Neem is an amazing Ayurvedic herb used for thousands of years for inflammation, infections, antioxidant support, dental health, and skin health. It is a tall tree (Azadirachta indica) in the Mahogany family native to India and Burma but now also in the Caribbean and South America. There are millions of neem trees in India and surrounding countries, found in areas like road-sides and backyards. Neem oil is obtained from the seeds within the fruit. The kernel contains up to 50% oil. More than 100 constituents have been isolated from the neem tree, and all the parts are used medicinally: leaves, flowers, seeds, fruits, twigs, roots and bark.
Taste: Bitter, pungent, astringent
Traditionally, neem is a valuable herb used medicinally by local populations. This practice has continued into modern times.
- Neem oil and tea was applied on babies and toddlers for illnesses, cuts, rashes, eczema
- Neem leaves were boiled in water and used for washing wounds
- Neem leaves were given for children’s intestinal worms, malaria, and fever
- Neem is added to soaps
- Neem is added to shampoos for controlling dandruff, scalp issues, and healthy hair
- Neem is added to toothpastes and tooth powders for its antibacterial effects to support teeth and gum health
- Neem twigs have been used for centuries to clean teeth as natural toothbrushes.
- Neem is added to skin care products for psoriasis, eczema, and acne
- Neem is taken internally as a supplement
Studies in Germany have shown that neem extract prevents tooth decay and is anti-inflammatory on the gums. It helps reduce the risk of periodontal disease and studies show it inhibits bacteria that’s involved in creating cavities. Neem is now added to more toothpastes and you can do an infusion of neem leaves to use as mouthwash. I love neem so much that I made my own Tooth Powder with Neem!
Neem is antibacterial, antiviral, and healing agent, thus it is great to have as a first aid option.
- Cuts and wounds – Apply oil, or wash with neem soap. It increases blood flow and helps heal.
- Burns – Apply oil or cream to decrease pain, kill bacteria, and stimulate immunity for healing
- Sprains and bruises – Apply leaf tea, cream, or oil. It heals and increases blood flow
- Ear ache – Apply directly to the ear canal to decreases inflammation and kill bacteria
- Fever – Drink leaf tea to reduce fever
Neem has shown in studies to inhibit various microorganisms that cause diseases. It is antimicrobial against food-borne pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus/pyogenes, E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Bacillus cereus, and Salmonella, as well as various gram-negative bacteria. It kills sandflies causing Leishmaniasis. It inhibits the malaria parasite and chloroquinine-resistant malaria and reduce transmission of malaria. It is used to treat cholera and diarrhea especially traditionally in India. It inhibits Dengue virus. It reduces Chagas disease which affects millions of people in developing countries.
Skin and Hair
Neem has many skin benefits and applications. You can use neem oil, soap, cream or bath for healing eczema and psoriasis, while reducing inflammation. Neem lotion is good for dry skin and wrinkles. Neem in shampoos and hair products helps reduce dandruff, scaly flakes, and heal scalp issues. Neem is used in mosquito repellants and kills lice. Neem soap or cream is used to reduce acne and reduce acne-causing bacteria. You can do a neem powder paste for your hair as a hair mask to promote hair growth and quality.
Neem is a bitter herb! Bitters have many digestive benefits, including stimulating digestive juice secretions, detoxifying the body, are antimicrobial, and support the liver. Neem is also anti-inflammatory and helps against inflammatory bowel disease and ulcers.
Neem is a bitter herb, and like other bitters, it is known to support the liver detoxification pathways. It cleanses the blood and skin through its cooling properties (cooling pitta skin inflammation), removing toxins, providing antioxidant support, and supporting the immune system.
There are many studies showing anti-cancer effects of neem preparations and extracts. It works on various aspects of cancer such as antioxidant defenses, inhibition of proliferation, modulating various cell signaling pathways, tumour suppressor genes (e.g., p53, pTEN), angiogenesis (VEGF), transcription factors (e.g., NF-κB), and apoptosis factors (e.g., bcl2, bax).
I encourage you to get more neem into your life! Whether it is through herbal supplements or external uses, I’m sure you can benefit from its healing properties.
Neem: A Tree for Solving Global Problems Report, National Research Council 1992
Udeinya IJ, et al. Fractions of an antimalarial neem-leaf extract have activities superior to chloroquine, and are gametocytocidal. Ann Trop Med Parasitol. 2006. 100(1):17-22.
Mahfuzul Hoque MD, et al. Antibacterial activity of guava (Psidium guajava L.) and Neem (Azadirachta indica A. Juss.) extracts against foodborne pathogens and spoilage bacteria. Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2007. 4(4):481-8
Prashant GM, et al. 2007. The effect of mango and neem extract on four organisms causing dental caries: Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus salivavius, Streptococcus mitis, and Streptococcus sanguis: an in vitro study. Indian J Dent Res. 18(4):148-51.
Abdel-Ghaffar F, Al-Quraishy S, Al-Rasheid KA, Mehlhorn H. 2011. Efficacy of a single treatment of head lice with a neem seed extract: an in vivo and in vitro study on nits and motile stages. Parasitol Res.
Harish Kumar G, et al. 2009. Nimbolide a limonoid from Azadirachta indica inhibits proliferation and induces apoptosis of human choriocarcinoma (BeWo) cells. Invest New Drugs. 27(3):246-52.