Neem or Nimba in Sanskrit has a lot of importance in Indian mythology. Its scientific name Azadirachta Indica has been derived from the Arabic language Azadirach-E-Hind, meaning a free growing tree of India. Leaves as well as bark of the tree are used for various Ayurvedic preparations. Neem or Margosa tree is a member of the mahogany family, Meliaceae.
Neem has been referred to as a “wonder herb” for the many beneficial properties it possesses. It has as many as 130 different biologically-active compounds. It contains both alkaloids and liminoids, each with an array of medicinal properties. One liminoid (azadirachtin) has been found to be very effective when used as a pesticide and insecticide.
Another liminoid found in Neem leaves (gedunin) has been used to treat malaria in tropical countries. It is administered as a tea or herbal infusion. Two other alkaloids (nimbin and nimbidin) have antiviral and antifungal properties. The leaves, fruits, bark, and seed oil offer a wealth of benefits to the skin, nails, scalp, teeth, and gums.
Gita Ramesh, Jt Managing Director, Kairali Ayurvedic Group says, “Neem according to Ayurveda can be called as the controlling agent for pitta & kapha, balancing them so that they do not increase. We use Neem in many of our medicinal and herbal preparations at Kairali because of its anti-bacterial qualities. It is an excellent blood purifier. It helps fight skin problems. hairfall, gout and arthritis among many others. Almost all parts of the tree are utilised. The stick for cleaning teeth, the leaves for staving off mosquitoes, etc.”
Traditionally used in Ayurvedic remedies for its purifying quality, the neem leaves were crushed into a paste and applied directly to infected skin. Even today in India, people sprinkle fresh Neem leaf near the beds of patients with flu or fever and hang a cluster of the leaves outside their doors.
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In Ayurveda, Neem is typically used to balance pitta and kapha. Its cold, light, and dry qualities tend to aggravate vata. Because of its cold, light and dry qualities, neem is vata aggravating by itself. It is therefore often recommended in combination with other herbs that help subdue its vata-provoking nature. On a broader scale, neem supports natural cleansing of the channels in the body as well as the rejuvenation of healthy tissues.
Benefits of Neem
Promotes healthy Skin, treats acne and skin blemishes
Supports healthy Blood Sugar levels
Promotes healthy hair
Neem is a great insect repellent. Burn a few neem leaves to ward off mosquitoes. It is also used for treating early symptoms of Malaria. Neem is also an antiseptic.
Neem's anti-inflammatory properties help reduce inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract which in turn helps reduce constipation, stomach ulcer, flatulence, etc. Neem oil softens, moisturises and protects the skin and can also be used as a deodorant. The stem bark is an astringent as are the root bark and young fruits.
Because of its anti-fungal properties, Neem is excellent for reducing dandruff and is used in shampoos and conditioners. It is also effective for lice.
Neem promotes oral hygiene and healthy teeth and gums. Fresh Neem twigs are often used for cleaning the teeth. It fights germs, maintains the alkaline levels in your saliva, keeps bacteria at bay, treats swollen gums and also gives you whiter teeth. The twig also shreds into threads, almost like bristles that also destroy and prevent plaque. Many toothpastes containing Neem extracts are available in the market.