Scientifically known as Azadirachta indica, the neem tree belongs to genus azadirachta and family meliaceae of Mahogany trees. The tree is revered in the Indian subcontinent for its medicinal properties and that is where it was first planted. Did you know that the neem tree is called "nature's drugstore" in its native land? Yes, it is rightly called, because it is indeed one. It has medical properties you would have never imagined; and this article will make you aware of these properties. Scientific experiments have also confirmed that the various ingredients in neem leaves do have miraculous effects for overall body health.
How are Neem Leaves Useful?
The use of neem being very popular in India, it were Indian scientists who first began the research to discover the compounds in neem that have healing effects. There are over 135 compounds in neem that are classified into two broad categories - isoprenoids and non-isoprenoids. Some of the chief identified ingredients in neem leaves are - nimbin, nimbidin, ninbidol, gedunin, quercetin, salannin, azadirachtin and sodium nimbinate. All these compounds collectively impart neem leaves its blessed healing powers. As far the medicinal properties of neem leaves are concerned, they have remarkable anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-carcinogenic properties. These properties and others have been discussed in the coming paragraphs.
Neem leaves have commonly been used in Indian households since time immemorial. Regularly applying a paste of neem leaves on the face keeps it clean and fresh looking. Dried neem leaves can be added into grains to protect them from the attack of pests. The anti-inflammatory and antifungal effects of chemicals nimbin and nimbidin in neem leaves helps in treating skin infections and diseases. A massage with its oil reduces the inflammation that arises as the result of joint pain from disorders like arthritis. Neem has the power to treat common skin ailments like acne, ulcers, vitiligo and skin infections to complex skin diseases like psoriasis and leprosy. In the olden days neem was used for chickenpox and smallpox treatment in India. Neem based products for hair effectively cure dandruff and other hair worries. Beauty skin products with a neem base lighten marks on the face and also have a moisturizing effect on the skin. It also has properties that cure cough and cold in the person.
The chemicals in neem leaves also have properties that work against diseases like malaria, rheumatism, anorexia, epistaxis, biliousness and arthritis. The leaves also possess anti-pyretic properties, that is they can take the body temperature down from a high raised level. Degenerating lifestyle has left many people susceptible to heart disorders. Extracts of neem will make your heart strong, and keep it protected from blood pressure fluctuations, bad cholesterol and changes in the heartbeat.
Diabetes is a serious disease which affects many people the world over. People who suffer from diabetes depend on insulin injections for maintaining the normal sugar levels in the blood. The tablets prepared from various extracts of neem leaves reduce the insulin requirement of a person to a huge level. Neem is thus, a natural hypoglycemic; and it is believed that chewing a neem leaf every morning reduces the dependability of a diabetic person on the hypoglycemic drugs. Chemicals in neem also are bestowed with anti-carcinogenic properties, that is they reduce the risk of cancer to a certain extent. Research is still in progress to find ways to utilize these magnificent benefits of the leaves in cancer treatment.
Neem leaves can also be used to prevent tooth decay and gum problems (this is the reason it is used in many teeth care products). In the Asian continent, since centuries neem leaves have been consumed by people for treating intestinal worms, and also for conditions like eye problems like conjunctivitis and infection. The water distilled from boiling fresh neem leaves can be used as an effective eyewash for treating these eye problems. Neem leaves also have cooling effect and neem water can be used as a natural astringent. Chewing 10-20 neem leaves daily morning with water reduces the heat in the body.
Neem also purifies the blood and safeguards the body from resulting injuries. A juice prepared from its leaves is recommended for curbing thirst. It is thus a natural anti-diuretic. the leaves are safe for daily consumption and will keep you away from urinary tract infections and liver disorders. It is advised that pregnant women should consume the leaves under the supervision of a physician (this is because, some studies suggest that neem has contraceptive effects, thought the effects have not been proved).
The neem tree is also an excellent tree for the environment, as it absorbs carbon dioxide. Each important part of the neem tree is blessed with benefits, be its bark, stem, twig, seeds or leaves. Though the properties are much concentrated in the bark, the leaves too have same effects. So, harness the benefits of this 'sacred tree' and its leaves for a trouble free life ahead.