There is no short supply of myths about the neem plant. The curative nature of the neem plant is said to have begun when a drop of nectar (amrita) fell onto it from the cup of immortality. If you’ve ever tasted neem you will remember how bitter it tastes; the bitter principles indicate the plants use in treating inflammations and infections of the skin and digestive tract.
The neem tree is a robust and fast-growing plant that can live for up to 200 years. A mature tree can reach heights of 20m and spreads of 10m. The tree will produce yellow fruits after four years of growth and its flowers are white and have a wonderfully sweet scent. Its leaves are narrow and lanceolate in shape, compound and comprise of 15 leaflets arranged in alternate pairs. Neem thrives in well-drained soils all over India at altitudes of up to 1000m. All parts of this plant are highly regarded in medicine.
All around the world the actions of traditional medicines were understood by their immediate sensory impacts. Click on each of neem’s key qualities below to learn more:
Neem contains two chemical constituents known as azadiractin and nimbin which are responsible for the anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory activities of the plant. These constituents are fast-acting, potent and bitter enabling it to target and fight infections incredibly efficiently. Neem can alter the environment within which invading pathogens thrive, effectively fighting infection in the digestive system and in the skin. Its strong anti-inflammatory properties ensure a healthy inflammation response providing symptomatic relief to infection.
Neem is a primary herb for dealing with all manner of infection caused by bacteria, fungi and parasites. It can effectively treat inflammatory conditions that have become rooted within the body and require strong bactericides and fungicides.
The strong medicinal activities of this plant are most prominent within the digestive tract and the skin, proving it invaluable for characteristic irritated, inflamed and infected conditions of both systems. Neem also provides protection for the delicate mucous membranes of the mouth, keeping it healthy and vital.
Neem has the ability to fight infection and also encourage a strong and healthy inflammation response giving this plant the ability to fight infection but also provide symptomatic relief.
Neem has cooling, drying and bitter qualities which have made it effective where cleansing and detoxification of the blood is indicated. Its purifying actions within the blood also ensure that the skin and digestive tract are supplied with a healthy flow of blood, encouraging a rejuvenating and rapid healing response in previously infected or damaged tissues and also preventing a recurrence.
Skin: Neem is most effective in inflammatory skin conditions characterised by aggravated rakta and pitta with itching, oozing, burning and infection. Therefore it is indicated in eczema and psoriasis when active with auspitz sign, bleeding, acne, urticaria, ringworm, scabies and lice. The oil is especially effective with fungal and bacterial infections when used externally at 2–5% dilution. The constituent azadarachtin gives neem its intense bitterness and renowned anti-bacterial and fungicidal activity. These properties, plus its chlorophyll content, adds to its potential as a deodorant for putrid smelling sweat.
GIT: Neem is used in intestinal inflammation and is specific for hyperacidity, ulcers, colitis and Crohn’s disease with high pitta and kapha. Neem also clears mucus and bleeding from the GIT and is useful in fissures, fistulas and haemorrhoids influenced by local congestion in the lower bowel. Neem is effective at fighting and clearing the intestines of parasites and worms and is very useful in chronic intestinal dysbiosis such as with Candida albanicans, protazoal infections and bacterial infestation.
Lungs: The bitter and dry qualities of Neem are very useful for clearing kapha and pitta accumulations from the respiratory passages.
Metabolic: Neem has an affinity for medavahasrotas and is utilised in Diabetes mellitus to support the system and regulate blood sugar levels. It clears kapha accumulations from the pancreas and activates medavdhatuagni which rectifies the compromised fat and water metabolism that is so common in diabetes.
Mouth: Neem has a traditional usage for toothache, gingivitis and general oral hygiene. An infusion of the leaves can be used as a mouthwash and the young twigs are traditionally used as toothbrushes in India.
Fevers: Neem is useful in high fevers from pitta and accumulations of ama; especially in the intermittent fevers of malaria-like diseases.
Reproduction: As with many bitter herbs, Neem reduces shukra dhatu and lowers the sperm count. However, it does have an affinity for the uterus and can reduce any inflammatory disorders affecting the reproductive system.
In Indian traditions, the Neem tree is also known as the ‘toothbrush tree’ because its branches were traditionally used to clean the teeth and protect the mouth and gums from infection. Neem is also a very infective insecticide/fungicide in the garden; spray an infusion on to affected plants for excellent results.
Traditional Ayurvedic characteristics are
0.5–5g/day or 1–15ml/day of a 1:5 @ 25% tincture