Neem: Uses & benefits
Azadirachta indica, or Neemtree is popularly known across India and the world for its infinite medicinal and anti-microbial properties. Generally, the leaves, seeds and bark of neem are made use of, but the flowers, fruit and roots are also used often. Here, are few of its uses medical and otherwise:
Neem as medicine:
- Neem leaves are used for leprosy, eyedisorders, bloody nose, intestinal worms, upset stomach, loss of appetite, skin ulcers, cardiovascular disease, fever, diabetes, gum disease (gingivitis), and liver problems.
- The bark is used for malaria, stomach and intestinal ulcers, skin diseases, pain, and fever.
- The flower is used for reducing bile, controlling phlegm, and treating intestinal worms.
- The fruit is used for hemorrhoids, intestinal worms, urinary tractdisorders, bloody nose, phlegm, eye disorders, diabetes, wounds, and leprosy.
- Neem twigs are used for cough, asthma, hemorrhoids, intestinal worms, low sperm levels, urinary disorders, and diabetes. People in the tropics sometimes chew neem twigs instead of using toothbrushes, but this can cause illness; neem twigs are often contaminated with fungi within 2 weeks of harvest and should be avoided.
- The seed and seed oil are used for leprosy and intestinal worms. They are also used for birth control and to cause abortions.
- The stem, root bark, and fruit are used as a tonic and astringent.
- Some people apply neem directly to the skin to treat head lice, skin diseases, wounds, and skin ulcers; as a mosquito repellent; and as a skin softener
- Neem leaves are also used for birth control and abortions.
- Neem with tulsi( basil) and giloy is said to have increased immunity in the times of Corona Pandemic.
Neem as Food:
While we are familiar with neem juice/kada and chutneys that are made from neem, Not many of us would be aware neem is consumed directly as food around different cultures. For example: A souplike dish called Veppampoo charu (Tamil) (translated as “neem flower rasam “) made of the flower of neem is prepared in Tamil Nadu. In Bengal, young neem leaves are fried in oil with tiny pieces of eggplant (brinjal). The dish is called neem begun bhaja and is the first item during a Bengali meal that acts as an appetizer. It is eaten with rice.
Neem is used in parts of mainland Southeast Asia, particularly in Cambodia aka sdov—Laos (where it is called kadao), Thailand (where it is known as sa-dao or sdao), Myanmar (where it is known as tamar) and Vietnam (where it is known as sầu đâu and is used to cook the salad gỏi sầu đâu). Even if lightly cooked, the flavour is quite bitter and the food is not enjoyed by all inhabitants of these nations, though it is believed to be good for one’s health. Neem gum is a rich source of protein. In Myanmar, young neem leaves and flower buds are boiled with tamarind fruit to soften its bitterness and eaten as a vegetable. Pickled neem leaves are also eaten with tomato and fish paste sauce in Myanmar.
The anti-microbial property of neem makes it essential in treating acne and other skin allergies. Water with Neem leaves boiled in it works magically as a conditioner— it’s proven to cure the dandruff problems. The neem oil based soaps and face-wash have been popular since a very long time.
As pesticides and fertilisers:
- Traditionally, neem seeds are put inside grain storages and wardrobes to save them from pests.
- Neem coated urea, a layer of neem is put over the plain urea that increases the land fertility capacity and leads to the higher production of crops. The oil coating of neem in Neem coated urea mixes up slowly with the land and the crops soaks it according to the need.
- Neem seed oil is also known for its mosquito repellent action.
Safety caution: Although, neem is said to have a truckloads of benefits yet it should be used be very cautiously around little children, diabetes patients and pregnant women.
- Doses of up to 60 mg daily for up to 10 weeks have been safely used in humans. Neem is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in large doses or for long periods of time. It might harm the kidneys and liver. When applied to the skin: Neem leaf extract gel is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied inside the mouth for up to 6 weeks.
- There is a concern that neem might decrease the effectiveness of medications that are used to prevent organ rejection. Do not use neem if you have had an organ transplant.
- Neem might lower blood sugar levels. There is a concern that it might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop using neem at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
- Since neem may increase activity in the immune system, it’s crucial for people with autoimmune disorders (such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis) to take caution when using neem. People who are taking lithium or immunosuppressants should not take neem.