In the world of Ayurvedic medicine, it is hard to find something else that is as popular and beneficial as Neem.
The neem tree, which originated in India, has an immense variety of benefits for us. Every part of the tree contains some active chemical compounds that are known to be useful.
Neem is regularly used in Ayurvedic medicines, natural cosmetics and even in agriculture where it again benefits the users in several ways.
The neem tree bears fruit from which neem oil is obtained. Both the neem leaves and neem oil are used commonly as they are both renewable. Neem oil is used in agriculture as it does not harm the crops.
Neem and neem oil have been used throughout the country since time immemorial, and it is now gaining acceptance throughout the world, where those looking for natural remedies are finding this ingredient nothing less than miraculous.
The Science Of Neem
For as long as one can remember, neem has been regularly used for its medicinal and other benefits. Scientists have now understood why neem is as useful as it is.
The neem, a tree, is protected from bacteria, fungus and other kinds of threats by the 150 natural compounds that work actively to take care of it. The complexity of these compounds is what makes it so beneficial.
Neem contains beneficial compounds like Nimbin, Nimbolide, Nimbin, Nimandial and other kinds of anti-inflammatory agents. There are also powerful anti-fungal agents present in neem that make it useful in getting rid of fungi that are associated with problems like ringworm, nail fungus, and athlete’s foot.
Studies indicate that neem is even beneficial to plants protecting the seedling trees from attack by pine weevil in their first year of development. Other studies indicate that neem ulcers can even treat ulcers successfully. The therapeutic role of neem is well established too, with studies recommending them for everything from their anti-bacterial to anti-fungal effects.
What Is Neem Oil?
The online world is flooded with articles and studies on the benefits of the neem oil which is extracted from the neem leaves and the seeds.
The Neem oils can be found in different colors:
- greenish brown
- bright red
- reddish brown
- dark brown
- yellowish brown
- golden yellow.
The Neem oil has a strong smell that will remind one of a combination of peanut and garlic.
It is made up of triglycerides, and the bitter taste comes from the triterpenoid compounds. Since the neem oil is naturally hydrophobic, it is formulated with surfactants so that it can be emulsified in water to be used for other purposes. It also contains several different kinds of sterols like stigmasterol, beta-sitosterol, and campesterol.
The way neem oil is processed will affect the composition of neem oil. This is because using the different methods such as expelling or solvent extraction will not remove the different components in the exact proportion. If the neem oil is being extracted from the seed, then it can vary, theoretically, from 25 % to 45 %.
To obtain the oil from the seeds, they are crushed through cold pressing or through varying the temperature levels from 40 to 50 degrees.
By carrying out the solvent extraction of the different products like seed, kernel, cake, and fruit, the neem oil can be obtained.
Hexane is used by a large number of people to extract the remaining oil from the seed cake. If you are worried about its consumption, don’t. Studies indicate that it is totally safe.
Top Health Benefits of Using Neem
Neem has several health benefits with a stronger immune system, better liver functioning, a healthy respiratory and digestive function just being some of them.
1. Helps fight viral diseases:
Since neem leaves can extract, absorb and eliminate viruses, they are often used to cure viral diseases. A neem paste can be made and applied to the affected area to bring about faster results and is often used in the treatment of warts, smallpox and chicken pox.
Since neem can absorb the virus and prevent it from entering the unaffected areas, it can be very helpful in such cases. Adding neem leaves to tea and applying a neem ointment can help fight herpes symptoms also.
If you are suffering from skin problems like chicken pox, then a common practice is to boil water with neem leaves in it and then using that water to bathe.
The anti-viral properties of neem turn out to be very helpful in such circumstances.
Itching and irritation problems get soothed, and the patient gets much-wanted relief. It can also help eliminate the parasites in the intestines and thereby improve its functioning.
2. Fights fungal diseases
A fungus can cause a lot of problems like mucous membranes, bronchi infection and neem leaves can help control such infections and oral thrush. Fungus can also attack the hair, skin, and nails where neem can prove to be very helpful.
3. Takes care of the heart
Neem leaves are a blood cleanser, and it is a common practice to drink water infused with neem as it helps regulate blood sugar levels.
Neem leaves extract is often used to keep the body healthy as it prevents damages caused by free radicals, purifies the blood and flushes out the toxins too.
It also dilates the blood vessels and improves blood circulation and controls high heart rates. It also helps control high blood pressure.
4. Treatment for Malaria
Gedunin is one of the main compounds found in neem, thus making it an effective treatment for diseases like malaria. The exposure to the smell of crushed neem leaves affects the breeding process of mosquitoes.
In fact, it is recommended that you chew on neem leaves and consume them to help stay away from malaria, which means that it is something you need to take with you outdoors.
There are Polysaccharides, and limonoids in the neem bark leaves that help fight cancer and tumor cells.
Neem leaf seeds and bark have some properties that help minimize the pain and reduce inflammation in arthritis patients. Massage the area where you have muscle ache and joint pain with neem oil to help reduce the pain brought about by osteoarthritis, rheumatism and lower backache.
7. Fight poison and insect bites
Neem leaf extract contains anti-clotting agents which make it a suitable remedy in case of poisoning or insect bites.
Neem leaves can help fight cancer and inflammation thanks to their anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer properties.
How Does Neem Benefit the Skin?
Now that we have discussed how beneficial neem is for our health, there are several other skin remedies that neem can be a cure for and thus give you a healthy, clear skin.
1. Keeps your skin soft and supple
Neem can keep your skin moisturized and thus retain its softness. Moreover, for those suffering from scars and pigmentation, neem, with its beneficial properties, can help lighten them.
A neem leaf decoction can be applied to pimples on the face to get rid of them effectively, and this decoction can also be used to handle minor wounds. To take care of any kind of skin infection, just make a paste of neem and turmeric and apply it on the infected area regularly to see some visible results.
2. Say goodbye to acne
While many of us spend our hard earned money on expensive products that make false promises to get rid of acne, it can be achieved through neem. Add some neem leaves to water and boil it until the water turns green and the neem leaves get discolored.
Strain it and store the water and add it to your bucket everytime you have a bath. This should help you get rid of body odor, acne, and other minor infections.
One of the best ways in which you can use neem to get rid of your pimple and acne problems is to make a smooth paste of it with some water and apply it on your face regularly.
3. Tones your skin
The benefits of neem are never-ending. The water which you boil with neem leaves can also be saved and used as a toner. Dab some of this natural toner on a cotton ball and wipe your face with it. This simple practice can help minimize scars, pigmentation, blackheads, and acne.
This water can also be used while rinsing your hair as it will treat dandruff and hair fall problems.
Neem can be used in several ways to make excellent face packs that not only brighten up your skin and get rid of spots but can also help reduce the appearance of pores. Several age-old remedies that promise clear and moisturized skin have neem as an important ingredient.
How Do You Use It?
First, look to boil water with neem leaves it in – you can use it for different purposes.
While you can use this water as a toner as mentioned earlier, you can also wash your hair with it to get rid of problems like dandruff that plagues so many of us. The anti-bacterial properties of this plant can impart innumerable benefits to your skin and hair.
If you have burned your skin, gently wash the affected area with this water as it will help the skin to re-generate faster and its properties will help save it from developing any kind of allergy or infection in that area.
Whether you are suffering from some skin irritation or eye irritation, or even sore throat, washing the affected area with this water is known to provide relief.
The Top Benefits of Neem Oil
Neem oil, just like neem, in general, has several benefits, and in the earlier times, it was a common sight to see a neem tree in the backyard of every Indian house which was more than enough to meet most of their medical needs.
The anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties of the neem oil are imparted from a group of triterpenoid compounds which are also known as limonoids that are commonly found the citrus family.
Most of the benefits of neem pass on to neem oil. It can be used for your skin, hair and even at home.
1. Helps those suffering from dry skin
Many of us suffer from dry patches on our face, hands, and feet as they are most exposed and washed parts. Neem oil is extremely helpful as it is hydrophobic in nature and does not get washed away with water. It holds on to the skin while deeply moisturizing it.
Just applying neem oil on the skin directly can become too strong for the delicate organ, and can also give off a pungent odor. If you have to apply neem oil, try diluting it with some coconut oil and add a few drops of lavender or lemon essential oils so that it doesn’t harm your skin and olfactory organs.
2. Helps achieve and acne-free skin
While acne pops up due to the overproduction of sebum by the skin glands due to the reproductive hormones, the problem gets much bigger when bacteria proliferate inside the hair follicles.
Even if you use a very tiny amount of neem oil, it will help stop bacterial action and is also a cheaper alternative to the expensive creams, face washes and toners that are available in the market.
Acne also causes redness and itching, and the anti-inflammatory nature of the oil helps in minimizing such problems that accompany acne. The oil also contains the fatty acid that helps heal the skin faster from the damages and scarring that acne causes.
If you are thinking of using neem oil for your acne issues, then take a teaspoonful of warm coconut oil or even olive oil and add a few drops of organic cold-pressed neem oil. Apply this on your face and wash it off after an hour or you could even let it stay on for the night if your skin can handle that.
3. Fights eczema and Psoriasis
External irritants can cause skin reactions like eczema while psoriasis is an autoimmune problem. Although these problems cannot be cured by neem oil, it can certainly help minimize the inflammation. Moreover, it further protects the skin by keeping it moisturized by forming a protective layer around it.
When these problems happen, the skin gets very itchy, and frequent scratching can lead to open wounds thereby causing all kinds of unnecessary infections. Such complications can be avoided by using neem oil.
4. Reduces pigmentation
Sometimes, excess production of melanin in some areas makes them appear darker than they are. Since neem oil can regulate melanin secretion, it can help lighten up the skin and help in achieving a more uniform skin tone. Dip an earbud in neem oil and apply it to small areas where the problem has occurred. However, if you are planning on applying full strength oil on your face or anywhere else, then a patch test is always recommended first.
5. Protects from the harmful effects of the sun
The harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun can cause severe damage to the skin and also cause inflammation. These rays can pass through the outer layer of the skin and damage the collagen that lies beneath. This process causes the appearance of fine lines or wrinkles and causes photoaging or the normal aging process.
Not only that but UV rays can also create free radicals in the skin which are known to cause cancer. No matter how much you protect yourself from these harmful rays, somehow, the always manage to penetrate into your skin. Applying neem oil can help keep the skin moisturized and restore the collagen to a certain extent, the antioxidants can limit the creation of free radicals, and the anti-inflammatory property can reduce redness and swelling.
6. Neem oil makes a good antiseptic agent
Although neem oil is a common ingredient in antiseptic soaps, liquid mouthwashes, and toothpaste, it is not used in dental hygiene due to its bitter taste. It is also used as a hand rubbing agent and a surface cleaner. Sometimes, it is also used to help stop children from putting dirty fingers in their mouths and thus avoid falling ill. Just dabbing a little bit of neem oil on minor cuts and wounds can prevent infection from developing in the vulnerable area.
7. It is a good pest repellant
Are you sick of pests like cockroaches, ants, and other pests? While there are different chemical repellants available in the market, the high price and toxicity mean that you may think twice about buying it.
Wiping the corners of the house and the area around windows, doors and other entry points with neem oil can help keep the pests away. You can also dip cotton balls in neem oil and leave them lying around the kitchen and store room to chase them away.
You might wonder that if it can repel insects and pests, it might harm humans as well. This is because unlike the common insecticides, it does not kill the insects as soon as it comes into contact with them. It just interferes with their metamorphic cycle, thanks to the mechanism of the action of the neem oil. It reduces their feeding and almost causes them to starve to death. This is the effect that it also has on the intestinal worms.
8. Keep the house away from mold and mildew
When mold and mildew appear in the house, it’s bad news for the inhabitants as it can cause serious respiratory issues and can be deteriorating to health. Since neem oil is anti-fungal in nature, mix a little bit in liquid cleansers and wipe the areas that are vulnerable to molds. Even add some neem oil drops to your leather cleanser if you are polishing your leather sofa or luggage.
9. Takes care of indoor plants
There are several people who like having plants inside their house. After all, a little bit of greenery indoors only adds more beauty to the decor. But plants can develop fungal and other kinds of infections and while chemical insecticides can be used to look after plants outdoors, doing so indoors, can degrade the quality of air, and thus become harmful for your health as well as that of your loved ones.
Mix two teaspoons of neem oil in a bucket of water. You will need a liquid dishwasher or a detergent which will act as a surfactant since neem oil won’t easily dissolve in water. Pour some of this in the root zone if you think the problem lies in the roots, or just spray it on the plants to control rust, fungal problems, and other infections.
10. Keeps your pets free of parasites
Your pet dog, cat, and other animals may carry several different kinds of parasites that would not only harm your pet’s health but also pose a threat to your family members.
Neem oil has different kinds of anti-parasitic activities that works against fleas, ticks and ear mites that are commonly found in pet dogs. If your pets are being troubled by internal parasites, then the anthelminthic properties of neem can be very helpful.
However, direct consumption of neem oil can harm the animals if consumed in large quantities. So try feeding them neem leaves instead of neem oil to get rid of the parasites within their bodies.
Apart from all these benefits of neem oil that make it a useful ingredient that can help you achieve a better house, health and also look after the health of your pet animals, it has several other uses. You can use it to treat fungal infection of the skin and scalp, heal dandruff problems and also that your nail infections.
Both Neem and neem oil is more useful than you would think. The anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties of these two make it an extremely popular herb and rightly so. It is rare to come across another plant that is as beneficial as neem. It originated in India, but seeing the benefits that it has to impart, it has developed a big following throughout the world.
While using neem, especially neem oil, it is important that you carry out a patch test if you will be using it on your skin as it can be very harsh if used all by itself.