For centuries millions of people have benefited from using
various parts of the neem tree. Its recognized traditional uses are
being confirmed by modern research findings. During the last 20
years more than 2000 research papers have been published on neem in
journals, books and proceedings of international congresses.
Neem tree in totality has been a village
dispensary and a qualified plant by itself. Every part of this plant finds use as medicine for itching,
skin disease, leprosy, blood disorders, worms, diabetes, piles,
dysentery, jaundice, vomiting, wounds, eye disease, paraplegia,
female genital diseases and all kinds of fevers.
More than 150 compounds have been so far isolated from neem.
Out of these seed accord for 101 including 43 from the malodorous
fraction, the leaves 37; and flowers, bark and root furnish the rest
(Dhan Prakash et al, 1996).
Neem products are used for treatment of a whole gamut of
diseases, including skin infection, cardiovascular disorder,
diabities and cancer (Govindachari, 1992). It has important
fungicidal and Antimalarial properties. Nimbidin from neem oil is
effective in various skin diseases. Neem oil inhibits the growth of
all the three strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and M. pyrogensn
var. aures ( Chopra et al., 1956). The water extract (10%) of leave
shows antiviral activity. The gum from bark is a stimulant and
demulcent tonic. It possesses anti-leprosy, antispirochaetal, and
immenagogue properites (Nadkarni, 1954; Dastar, 1970; Satyavarthi et
al., 1976 ; Subramanian, 1986).
Some of its multiple applications are:
Psoriasis: In clinical studies Neem extracts and oil
were found to be as effective as coal tar and cortisone in treating
psoriasis. However there were none of the usual side effects
accompanying the use of Neem as there was with Coal tar and
cortisone. When applied to the skin, Neem extracts and oil removed
the redness and itching while improving the condition of the skin
for the duration of the treatment.
Diabetes: Whether drinking a simple cup of tea out
of the leaves or taking extracts of the Neem leaf, Neem
significantly and consistently reduced insulin requirements for
nonkeytonic, insulin fast, and insulin sensitive forms of Diabetes.
Because of the numerous and successful clinical studies with Neem on
Diabetes, the Indian equivalent of the FDA has approved the
manufacture and sale of Neem tablets, by Pharmaceutical companies,
for the treatment of Diabetes.
Dental disease: In the old days, the people in India did
not use neem toothpaste. They used neem toothbrushes instead.
Chewing on a neem twig has for many centuries been the commonly
preferred way to prevent gum disease and maintain healthy teeth.
In a study to determine the most
effective method for reducing plaque formation and the level of
bacteria on tooth surfaces researchers compared antibiotics to a
number of plant materials with known antibacterial properties,
including neem. They found that microorganisms found in inflamed
gums and resistant to penicillin (44%) and tetracycline (30%) but
were not resistant to antibacterial plant extracts like neem. And
unlike antibiotics, antibacterial plant extracts produced no allergy
in the gingiva that could inhibit their effectiveness.
Cancer: For centuries in India and Southeast Asia
Ayurvedic practitioners and herbalists have successfully used Neem
to reduce tumors. Clinical research performed in Europe and India
using the polysaccharides and limonoids found in Neem bark, leaves,
and seeds demonstrated some remarkable effects against cancers.
These compounds not only reduced tumors and cancers but were also
effective against lymphocytic leukemia. An amazing reduction in
tumor size was reported when Neem extracts were injected around the
Herpes: Recent tests in Germany show that Neem is
toxic to herpes simplex viruses. Neem exhibits antiseptic,
anti-inflammatory, and astringent properties. The leaf and oil of
this tree has been used for centuries in Southern Asia for
maintaining beautiful and healthy skin.
Kidney stone: Taking neem tea is not only good to
prevent kidney stone, but also for the treatment against this
disease, helping to dissolve the stones.
Dermatology: Neem's antibacterial and antiallergic
properties make it effective in tackling skin problems such as acne,
psoriasis and eczema. In Ayurveda, epidermal problems were believed
to be caused by raised sugar levels in the body and Neem's bitter
taste was said to balance out excess sugar. Besides, Neem cream is
an excellent anti-wrinkles.
Allergies: Although Neem boosts immunity, Neem
doesnt over - stimulate the immune system. Indeed, it may help
regulate an overactive immune system, minimizing allergic response
Ulcers. The traditional use of neem seed oil against
ulcers is well supported by in vivo laboratory evidence, both for
the protection of gastric and duodenal mucosa against stress-induced
or chemically induced lesions, and for the enhancement of the
healing process in chronic gastric lesions induced by acetic acid (Pillai
& Santhakumari 1984). Blockade of histamine receptors is suggested
as a possible mechanism for this effect.
Hepatitis: Hepatitis is another disease helped by
neem. This often-deadly disease can be transmitted through blood or
by ingesting contaminated food or water. Recent studies indicate
that neem extracts can block infection by the virus that causes hepatitis
Fungus: Scientists have recently discovered that
alkaloids, nimbin and nimbidin found in Neem leaves, have
properties, which is why they have been effective in treating
athelete's foot, ringworm and yeast - like fungus infections.
Malaria: There is significant phytochemical evidence
for the efficacy of neem leaf and seed extracts, and isolated
compounds, in the treatment of malaria, as reviewed by Van der Nat
et al., (1991a) and Willcox & Chamberlain (2003).