Neem or Margosa tree, the legendary medicinal tree, has been an integral part of Indian culture. For ages, people have been using this tree to fortify their health and as a herbal remedy against various diseases.
Neem has been declared as ‘Tree of the 21st century’ by the United Nations. Many sacred Indian texts have outlined the remarkable qualities of the Neem tree, which have been proved even by modern researches. Neem is present in almost 75% of Ayurvedic formulations. Each part of Neem has therapeutic properties. Let’s learn more about this incredible herb.
Neem – all you need to know
Neem tree is called ‘Nimba’ in Sanskrit, which means ‘maintainer of good health.’ Neem is a large tree and is a native of India. It has incredible adaptability to a wide range of climatic and geographical conditions and hence is distributed widely all over the world.
The Neem tree has a rough, scaly, blackish-brown stem. Long, serrated leaves are clustered at the end of the branches, which also bear bunches of lilac flowers. Neem leaflets have got disagreeable odor and are very bitter. Fruits are small berry-like with one seed. Bark exudes a clean, bright, amber-colored gum. Every part of Neem – bark, root, fruit, seed, flowers, leaves, gum and sap have medicinal value. Mainly, bark and leaves are used most in Ayurvedic medicines.
Properties of Neem
As per Ayurveda, Neem has bitter and astringent rasa or taste. It is light to digest, dry, absorptive. After digestion, the taste changes to pungent and is cold in potency. These qualities of Neem pacify pitta and kapha dosha.
Root and bark of Neem act as general tonic and antiperiodic. The fruit is purgative, anthelminthic, and emollient. Neem oil is a local stimulant, insecticide, and antiseptic. Neem also possesses anti-viral and emmenagogue properties.
What are the benefits of Neem?
The miraculous healing powers of Neem are now known globally. But Ayurveda describes all the benefits of various parts of the Neem tree.
- It improves eyesight and skin complexion
- It acts as a blood purifier and removes toxins
- It heals wounds and insect-bites
- It is beneficial in neuro-muscular pains, cough, and respiratory disorders
- It is useful in worm infestations, skin disorders, anti-bacterial, chronic fever, diabetes
- It is an excellent blood purifier and alleviates swelling
- It relieves loss of appetite, thirst, vomiting, and fatigue
- It is beneficial in piles, diabetes, tumors, skin diseases
- It is an excellent purgative and anti-hemorrhoidal
- It is anti-helminthic and anti-toxic
- It balances increased pitta and kapha dosha
Neem seeds are anti-viral, anti-helminthic and cure skin diseases
Neem oil is an excellent remedy for skin disorders and powerful anthelminthic
How to use various parts of Neem?
Neem has been used in India and other parts of the world to maintain health and beauty for time immemorial. You can use it as a paste, cold or hot infusion, powder, decoction, medicated oil, and ghee. Here are some ways you can use Neem –
- The decoction of Neem bark along with coriander seeds and ginger powder or cloves or cinnamon powder relieves from chronic fever, general debility, loss of appetite, and skin diseases
- The decoction of Neem bark made with black pepper and the bitter stick is a popular remedy of malaria, intermittent, and periodic fevers
- You can make a decoction of 1.5 g of Neem bark and 3 g of long pepper to treat rheumatism and low back pain
- You can use Neem oil as a dressing for foul ulcers, rheumatic affected joints, headache, and all skin diseases. Neem oil also used to cure mange in dogs. It is a natural pest repellent and non-toxic for dogs.
- You can apply Neem oil on your scalp and get relief from dandruff and hair lice. You have to massage your scalp with a mixture of Neem oil and coconut or olive oil. Leave for one hour and thereafter shampoo your hair. You have to do this once a week
- If you have sinusitis, instill two drops of Neem oil in each nostril in early morning and evening. You will get systemic relief within a couple of days
- Boil 10 fresh Neem leaves in one liter of water for 15 minutes. Let the water cool and thereafter you can use this water as eyewash in conjunctivitis, itching, eye infections, etc.
- You can apply Neem leaf powder or crushed Neem leaves mixed with water on your face or skin for getting rid of acne, pimple, small-pox, or any other skin infections
- If you are suffering from hyperacidity and diabetes, chewing 2-3 Neem leaves daily will help in purifying the blood
- A teaspoon of dried Neem leaf powder mixed with the same quantity of ghee and honey controls skin allergies
Cold infusion of dried flowers is used as a tonic in heartburn, fever, and general weakness after fever
What is the recommended dose of Neem?
You can consume 10-20ml of Neem leaf juice orally. Alternatively, you can take 10-20g if you are consuming it in the paste form. If you want to take dried Neem leaf or bark powder, then you can take 2-4g of Neem powder.
If you are using Neem oil for internal consumption, then you can take only 5-10 drops. 50-100 ml is the ideal dose of decoction of Neem leaves or bark. All these doses are prescribed to be taken in a whole day.
Side effects of Neem
f you are fasting or taking anti-diabetic medications already, then you can avoid taking Neem orally as it may cause very low blood sugar. You can only use Neem during childhood, pregnancy, and breastfeeding under qualified ayurvedic medical supervision.
Oral consumption of Neem oil may cause miscarriages in pregnant ladies. If children consume Neem oil orally, it may cause side effects like vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, loss of consciousness, and blood disorders.
In Vedas, Neem is called ‘Sarva roga nivarini’ which means the one that cures all ailments. The Ayurvedic seer, Caraka, says that one who uses parts of Neem to take a bath, in food, and for preparing the bed to sleep for a year will never suffer from skin diseases.
The powerful antiseptic, anti-microbial, anthelmintic, anti-cancerous, anti-diabetic, anti-oxidant, and wound-healing effects of Neem inarguably makes it a unique and indispensable medicine.