Azadirachta Indica Neem Oil is used in natural skin care products for its anti-inflammatory, toxin removal and antimicrobial effects properties. Neem oil is expressed from the seed of the Azadirachta indica tree.
The tree is part of the mahogany family and it is one of two species in the genus Azadirachta, native to India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Pakistan. It is a very strange smelling oil – some people think it smells of garlic, others think it has an onion smell while others cannot really define the smell – but take note – it does have a smell. When using it for its therapeutic properties, the smell can be masked by adding other more fragrant smelling essential oils.
The internal medicinal uses of Neem include malaria, tuberculosis, rheumatism, arthritis, jaundice and intestinal worms as well as skin diseases. It also has alternative (increases vitality) properties. The oil is NOT normally taken internally – but as a decoction made from the leaves. The extract of Neem leaves has also demonstrated significant anti-diabetic potential.
Neem also enhances the immune system – making it a possible substance of use for AIDS and cancer patients, although more research on the efficacy and treatment protocol needs to be done. It also helps to decrease blood sugar levels and may possibly be used to reduce the use of insulin by 30%-50% – making it a possible effective compound for diabetic patients. The extracts are also beneficial for heart diseases, hepatitis, fungal infection, malaria, psoriasis, and ulcers.
Unlike the oil, the leaves have a pleasant odor and the extract made from them is either an alcoholic tincture or a tea.
Neem is used externally for ringworm, eczema, psoriasis, lice, fungal infection as well as for painful joints and muscles. The cosmetic use of Neem oil includes the fighting of acne and pimples as well as improving skin elasticity.
It is a bitter, cool, acrid, astringent, and refrigerant herb. Useful for fever, loss of appetite, tiredness, coughs and intestinal worm infestation. Helpful for healing wounds and to combat vomiting, excessive thirst and skin diseases.
Are used in the treatment of Vatik disorders (that is neuro-muscular pains) and is also reported to remove toxins, preventing damage from free radicals and purifying the blood as well as beneficial in eye disorders and insect bite poisons.
The fruit is bitter, purgative, anti-hemorrhodial and anthelmintic in nature.
The flowers are used in conditions of Pitta (balancing the body heat) and Kapha (cough formation) and by nature are astringent and anthelmintic.
They are bitter and have anthelmintic (vermifuge – destroys and expels intestinal worms) properties, as well as being anti-bacterial.
The oil derived from crushing the seeds is a powerful anthelmintic compound and has a very wide spectrum of action and is highly medicinal in nature, which includes being a spermicidal compound (this action is because of the volatile fraction coded as NIM-76) s as well as anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, etc.
A mixture of all five parts of the tree – bark, root, fruit, flowers and leaves – are used in diseases of the blood. It is also used to alleviate conditions of excess heat, itching, helps with wound healing, reduces burning sensation in the body as well as in skin diseases.
To keep insects, silverfish, beetles and moths away from your books – place a couple of fresh leaves in your books. This can also be used in herbaria to protect against insect damage.
Neem oil should only be used externally on the skin and has been therapeutically used as folk medicine to control respiratory disorders, constipation, leprosy, as well as a general tonic. It has been used for the topical treatment of rheumatism, eczema, ringworm, athlete’s foot, cold sores, psoriasis, warts, chronic syphilitic sores, infected burn wounds and slow-healing skin ulcers as well as controlling various skin infections.
It has anti-inflammatory, antipyretic (relieving fever) and analgesic (relieving pain) activity and possesses immunostimulant activity (increasing the body’s defense mechanism to fight infectious organisms and other foreign material) by selectively activating the cell-mediated immune mechanisms to elicit an enhanced response to subsequent mitogenic or antigenic challenge.
It has proved a very effective spermicide (killing sperm) in rhesus monkeys as well as human spermatozoa (because of the volatile principle coded as NIM-76). Studies showed that intra-vaginal application of a Neem oil mixture before coitus can prevent pregnancy. The mechanism of how it works seems to be non-hormonal – most probably mediated through its spermicidal effect and may have less side effects than steroidal contraceptives.
It is highly effective against human fungi, including trichophyton, epidermophyton, microsporum, trichosporon, geotricum and candida.
Furthermore, Neem oil is effective against a wide spectrum of bacteria – possessing antibacterial action against gram-negative and gram-positive microorganisms, including M. tuberculosis and the streptomycin-resistant strains, Salmonella typhora, S. aureus and in vitro tests showed that it inhibits Vibrio cholerae,Klebsiella pneumoniae, M. tuberculosis and M. pyogenes.
Its antimicrobial effects have been demonstrated against Streptococcus mutans and S. faecalis.
Application of Neem oil on the hair has been shown to kill head lice. A study was also done on various forms of cancer and tumors – and although the results were promising, this application needs more investigation.
The Neem tree is a fast growing, long-life tree popular in the tropics and is grown for its ornamental value, as well as for its therapeutic value and is used as fuel for its workable, but unpleasant smelling wood.
The Latin name of the tree is derived from the Persian word azaddhirakt – meaning “noble tree”. In Ayurvedic medicine Neem is the most important detoxicant and is a very potent febrifuge (reducing fever) and is used to treat intermittent fevers and has shown to contain effective anti-malarial (Plasmodium falciparum) compounds.
The seed (from which we cold press our oil) yields Margosa oil (other word for Neem oil) and is a non-drying oil with insecticidal and antiseptic properties.
Almost all of the tree can be used. In herbal application the leaves, flowers, bark, seeds and oil is used. It is a bitter tonic herb that is used for clearing toxins, reducing inflammation, lowering fever, promoting healing and in general promoting and improving body functions. It destroys a wide range of parasitic organisms and is also an insecticidal compound and studies have shown it to be a spermicidal (killing sperm).
In Indian tradition Neem is one of the most important herbal ingredients – not only to help fight certain health problems, but also used in the earliest cosmetics and skin care products. The women also used Neem to protect their stored grains and pulses throughout the year as it is a great deterrent for pests.
Although Indian women incorporated it into their daily beauty and hygiene regimen men used the oil to prevent baldness and graying of the hair, and decoctions and Neem oil were used to remove lice and to combat dandruff.
Skin allergies were sorted out by mixing a teaspoon of dried leaf Neem powder with a teaspoon of ghee (clarified butter) and placing it on irritated skin. The fine twigs of the tree were chewed until the fibers were open, and then used as a toothbrush.
The European Patent Office (EPO) in 1995 granted a patent on an anti-fungal product, derived from Neem, to the US Department of Agriculture and the multinational company – W. R. Grace and Company. This patent grant was challenged by the Indian government, because the process for which the patent had been granted had actually been in use in India for over 2000 years. In 2000 the European Patent Office made a ruling in India’s favor. However, the US company filed an appeal, claiming that prior art about the product had never been published in a scientific journal. At last, on 8 March 2005 the appeal was lost and the European Patent Office revoked the patent rights – keeping the Neem tree free of patent restrictions.