Neem or Azadirachta indica is an evergreen tree native to India and the Indian subcontinent. It holds an immensely important role in ayurvedic medicine and has been used for thousands of years to treat various diseases and maintain overall health. It is a rich source of antioxidants, vitamin E, alkaloids and liminoids, all of which possess great medicinal value. It not only treats skin diseases and infections, but also helps relieving ulcers, diabetes, controlling high blood pressure, lowering cholesterol and improving oral health.
The Medicinal Value of Various Parts of Neem Tree
Each and every part of the neem tree has certain medicinal value and can be used for treating specific diseases and health conditions.
Neem Leaf: Consumption of raw neem leaves have been shown to control diabetes, hypertension, blood pressure, improve digestion, treat lung diseases, purify blood and act as prevention against cancer.
Neem Seeds: The oil extracted from neem seeds is used from treating skin infections, ringworms, rheumatism, and leprosy. It also helps in controlling malarial fever.
Neem Bark: The anti-inflammatory properties of neem bark are used to treat asthma, tumors, and hemorrhoids. The extract of neem bark is also used for treating fever, jaundice, malaria, vomiting and diarrhea.
Uses of Neem for Health, Skin and Hair
The benefits of neem for treating diseases and preserving overall health need no new emphasis; no doubt it is called the “village pharmacy”-having complete solution for all kinds of aliments, right from bad breath to malaria.
Treating Gum Diseases (Gingivitis)
Neem has amazing anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties that provides protection against almost all kinds of micro-organisms. Regular use of neem leaf extracts has been shown to reduce plaque formation, gingivitis, periodontitis, bleeding gums, pustules discharge from gums and bad breath.
Gingivitis and periodontitis causes inflammation and damage to gum tissues which eventually leads to tooth loss. Azadirachtin, triterpenes and glycerides present in neem extract fights the bacteria and improves overall oral health.
Keep gum diseases at bay by brushing your teeth with a toothpaste containing neem extracts or make your own neem mouth wash by soaking 500gms of clean neem leaves in 2 liters of drinking water overnight. Grind the leaves in the water the next morning and strain it using a cheese cloth. Store the strained liquid in a bottle and use it to wash your mouth twice each day for 3 months to get rid of gum diseases, bad breath and plaque.
The extract of neem leaves and seeds has been used extensively in ayurvedic medicine to treat Type 2 Diabetes and high blood pressure. The active ingredients present in neem leaf extracts works in lowering the level of glucose in blood with no side effects. It reduces insulin dependence by 60 to 70% and also promotes insulin production in the Beta cells that helps the pancreas to distribute the sugar throughout the body.
Another major problem related to diabetes is poor blood circulation that leads to arterial damage, and increases the risk of stroke and heart attack. Neem extracts help in dilating the arteries and improves blood circulation through the system. But it must be kept in mind that all these remedies can function effectively only when combined with a well-planned diabetic diet.
The best way to maximize the benefits of neem for diabetes is to consume a tablespoon of fresh neem leaf paste first thing in the morning and in the evening before dinner. The neem leaves can also be consumed in the form of powder. For this, the leaves need to be dried and grounded into powder. 1 tablespoon of the powder has to be mixed with water and consumed twice daily.
Antioxidant play a vital role in boosting immunity and the extracts of neem leaf, seeds and bark function as powerful antioxidants that reduces inflammation, improves immune system and prevents cancer. Neem extracts kills pathogens and functions as a natural detoxifying agent that reduces the harmful effects of free radicals and oxidative stress. Regular intake of neem leaf extract reduces the occurrence of common cold, flu and persistent cough.
Being a natural immune booster it stimulates the generation of T-cells that helps in fighting disease causing bacteria and infections and keeps them at bay without posing any threat to the health benefitting bacteria and micro-organisms that is often caused by chemical antibiotics and prescription medicines.
The best way to boost immunity with neem is to consume it in the form of nourishing neem tea. Steep 5-8 neem leaves in a cup of boiling water and add 1 teaspoon of honey to it, let it stay for 5 minutes and drink it twice daily for best results.
Relieve Respiratory Diseases
The effective anti-inflammatory property of neem helps in treating respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and persistent cough. Bronchitis is caused by inflammation of the bronchial tube linings and can be aggravated by pollution, smoking and exposure to certain chemicals.
Neem leaf extracts helps in relieving cough and bronchitis by soothing the inflammation of the bronchial tubes, thinning the mucus and clearing the respiratory tract to improve breathing and restore respiratory health. The antioxidants present in neem extracts also promote healing.
Take a tablespoon each of neem and tulsi leaf paste in a bowl and add a tablespoon of natural honey to it, mix well and consume it 2 to 3 times a day to get relief from cough, respiratory congestion and bronchitis.
Neem functions as an effective natural remedy in treating influenza, flu, fever, and malaria. Influenza or flu is often accompanied by headache, aching muscles, nasal congestion, fatigue and chills. The extract of neem leaves functions like aspirin and reduces the muscle ache, pain and inflammation accompanied with fever.
Gedunin, quercentin and Irodin A are the three active compounds found in neem that have effective anti-malarial property and helps in controlling and lowering fever and improving appetite which in turn helps in strengthening the body.
The best way to treat fever with neem is to turn the neem leaves in to a thick paste and take 1 tablespoon twice a day daily for 3 -5 days. Neem seed oil can be used as a powerful mosquito repellant against malaria but it is best to apply it externally on the skin rather than oral consumption.
The powerful antifungal and antibacterial property of neem leaves help in treating skin infections and various skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, ringworms, athlete’s foot, itching, redness and inflammation.
When it comes to problems related to skin, neem stands as the ultimate solution. Extracts of neem leaves and neem seed oil works magic against fungal and bacterial infections and has been found to battle 14 different types of fungi. It also helps in treating lung infections, skin infections caused due to Candida and vaginal infections.
The best way to use neem for skin infections is to apply a paste made of neem leaves on the affected areas, let it stay for 30 minutes and wash off with water. Urinary tract infection and skin infections caused due to Candida can be relieved by drinking 3 cups of neem tea daily. A neem based cream can be applied with cotton swabs to relieve vaginal Candida infection.
Healing Acne and Pimples
Neem is an age old natural remedy that has been used by our mothers and grandmothers to treat skin problems and it has withstood the taste of time to emerge as the ultimate natural remedy for glowing skin and treating acne and pimples.
The natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties of neem fight the bacteria that cause painful pimples and acne and also help in preventing further outbreak. The anti-inflammatory properties of neem sooths the inflammation, pain and redness caused by pimples and also help in removing blackheads, acne and pimple scars and pigmentation.
Add a handful of neem and tulsi leaves in 1 cup of water, boil it for 10 minutes, let it cool and mash it into a pulp, apply on the affected areas and let it stay for 1 hour, wash off with water. Regular use of the neem and tulsi paste will help in reducing the outbreak of pimples and also lighten the existing pimple and acne scars.
Natural Anti-aging Benefit
The immunity boosting properties of neem leaf extract also makes it a perfect natural anti-aging agent that helps in regeneration of new skin cells and rejuvenates the damaged cells. The anti-oxidants and vitamin E present in neem extracts protect the skin against oxidative stress and free radical damage.
Regular topical application of neem leaf extract as neem paste or skin creams with neem extract as an active ingredient helps in supplying moisture to skin, making it soft and supple and prevents the appearance of the signs of aging such as fine lines, wrinkles and age spots.
Cleanse your face with a cleanser and apply pure neem oil on face. Massage the oil into skin with fingertips in soft circular motion. Do it regularly before going to bed to make your skin appear youthful, supple and glowing.
Effective Skin Toner
Neem water works as an effective skin toner for both dry and oily skin. It reduces excessive oiliness of skin and the fatty acids and vitamin E also helps in nourishing dry and damaged skin. It acts as a natural astringent that reduces the size of open pores and removes dirt, impurities, dead cells and makeup residue from skin which tends to clog the pores.
Take a handful of neem leaves and add it to ½ liter of boiling water, let it boil for 10 minutes or till the water turns green. Remove from flame and let it cool, strain the liquid and store in a container. Use this toner to wipe your face 2-3 times a day to hydrate skin, remove excess oil and sebum and keep it squeaky clean.
The benefits of neem are not limited to skin only; it also functions as an effective natural remedy for dandruff, itchy scalp and rashes. The powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties of neem fight rashes, scalp infections, itchiness and flaking. It also helps in nourishing dry, rough hair by retaining moisture, prevents hair fall and promotes hair growth.
Make a paste of fresh neem leaves and apply it on scalp, let it stay for 30 minutes and wash off with water. Repeat this 2-3 times per week to get rid of dandruff, scalp irritation, itchiness and hair fall.
Include this centuries old natural remedy to your daily health and skin care regime and reduce the risk of chronic diseases and get naturally glowing and healthy skin.