Neem – Azadirachta indica: Uses and Benefits
Have you heard about Neem yet? Neem (Azadirachta indica) is the name of a tree native to the Indian subcontinent. For almost 5000 years, the different parts of this tree have been used in Ayurvedic/ Ayurveda medicine, one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems. To be clear, it is a component of over 75% of Ayurvedic remedies, and for a good reason.
Research on this amazing plant finds that it contains more than 140 different biologically active compounds that have a beneficial response in the body! According to the US National Library of Medicine, in a journal post titled Medicinal Properties of Need Leaves: a Review; “Neem leaf and its constituents have been demonstrated to exhibit immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, antihyperglycaemic, antiulcer, antimalarial, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic properties.” WebMD says, “Neem contains chemicals that might help reduce blood sugar levels, heal ulcers in the digestive tract, prevent conception, kill bacteria and prevent plaque formation in the mouth.” In fact, it may even be good in the fight against prostate cancer.
Generally speaking, it is used both externally and internally. It is used for everything from scalp, hair, and skin conditions to boosting the immune system and slowing the aging process. This includes reducing inflammation, treating cancer, and even managing diabetes. However, while it begins to work as soon as you take it, for certain conditions, it may take as long as six weeks to become fully effective.
It usually comes in oil and leaf (either capsules or tea), but there are other products that use it in different ways. As stated before, it is used for a number of ailments and conditions. These include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Antibacterial Potential.
- Stimulate hair growth.
- Prevent male-pattern baldness.
- Body Detox.
- Acne Treatment.
- General Gastric Health.
- Cancer Fighter.
- Chronic Disease Fighter.
- Skin exfoliate.
- Fungal Infections; both internal and external
- Diabetes treatment.
- Reproductive Health: (natural spermicide and birth control agent)
- Anti-inflammatory Agent.
- Upset stomach.
- Breathing conditions.
- Head lice.
- Skin conditions and diseases.
- Heart disease.
- Urinary Issues.
- And Much More.
Research is always ongoing, but I thought I would provide just a few excerpts from different journal entries that I have found during my research. I believe these will help you understand that this is not your ordinary supplement or herbal treatment. Instead, perhaps this should be a powerful addition to your herbal medicine cabinet.
“Neem leaf ethanolic extract presented inhibitory effect on MRSA biofilm…” Effect of neem (Azadirachta indica A. Juss) leaf extract on resistant Staphylococcus aureus biofilm formation and Schistosoma mansoni worms. – Link
“Earlier finding confirmed that neem and its constituents play role in the scavenging of free radical generation and prevention of disease pathogenesis.” Therapeutics Role of Azadirachta indica (Neem) and Their Active Constituents in Diseases Prevention and Treatment. – Link
“The results indicate that NTE (Neem Tree Extract) is a promising candidate for the antitumor treatment with high efficacy and safety.” Neem tree (Azadirachta indica) extract specifically suppresses the growth of tumors in H22-bearing Kunming mice. – Link
“Neem leaf extract has significant antimicrobial activity against E. faecalis and thus opens the perspectives for the use of neem extract as an intracanal medication.” Antibacterial Efficacy of Neem (Azadirachta indica) Extract against Enterococcus faecalis: An in vitro Study. – Link
“The chemopreventive and anticancer therapeutic efficacy of A. indica (Neem) fractions and compounds could be explained by multiple cellular and molecular mechanisms, including free radical scavenging, carcinogen-detoxification, DNA repair, cell cycle alteration, programmed cell death (apoptosis) and autophagy, immune surveillance, anti-inflammatory, anti-angiogenic, anti-invasive and anti-metastatic activities as well as their ability to modulate several dysregulated oncogenic signaling pathways.” Potential of neem (Azadirachta indica L.) for prevention and treatment of oncologic diseases. – Link
The list of benefits and studies related to its benefits goes on and on. It is no wonder it has stood the test of time and is a component of so many Ayurvedic remedies. Is it right for you? Only you (and perhaps your doctor) can be the judge of that, but I can tell you that I have tried it myself and found it to be extremely beneficial for a number of different ailments.
Want to Learn More?
Neem: India’s Miraculous Healing Plant
Neem: The Ultimate Herb
Banyan Botanicals: Neem
Warnings and Side Effects
As with all good things, there are a few things that you need to be aware of.
Neem should not be used or consumed by infants or toddlers, and those with existing kidney or liver issues should definitely consult a doctor before using neem leaves, paste, or oil.
If you have diabetes and use neem, monitor your blood sugar carefully. It might be necessary to change the dose of your diabetes medicine.
Neem might lower blood sugar levels.
Neem might cause the immune system to become more active. People with “Auto-immune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions are encouraged to avoid it or to talk with your doctor before consumption.
In regard to pregnancy and breastfeeding: as listed above, it may have a direct effect on reproductive health. As a natural spermicide and birth control agent, it is best to avoid it if you are pregnant, are trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding. Neem’s spermicide and birth control attributes cease a few weeks after consumption stops.
Neem is safe for most adults when taken by mouth for up to 10 weeks, when applied inside the mouth for up to 6 weeks, or when applied to the skin directly for up to 2 weeks. If you plan on taking it longer, be sure to discuss this with your doctor. Avoid large doses and avoid taking it for very long periods of time. It is best to cycle it due to fatigue on the kidneys and liver.
Be sure to read my article titled “The N-acetyl Cysteine (NAC) Powerhouse.”
Dr. Robertson is a health researcher and educator, not a physician. The information provided here is not medical advice, a professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment, or service to you or any other individual. The information provided is for educational and anecdotal purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or professional care. You should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation, or the advice of your physician or other healthcare providers. Dr. Robertson is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis, or additional information, services, or product you obtain or utilize. IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY, YOU SHOULD IMMEDIATELY CALL 911 OR YOUR PHYSICIAN.