Neem tree (Azadirachta indica) is native to the Indian subcontinent, and some parts of Southeast Asia. In these regions, this tree has been used for a very long time, for its medicinal properties. While the twigs were used for cleaning teeth, crushed neem leaves were applied on insect bites and other skin problems. It is said that neem has antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, antiviral, antihistamine, and spermicidal properties. It has been used in the traditional medicine of India, called Ayurveda, for thousands of years. Neem and neem oil are widely used for various purposes, including health care, beauty care, and pest control.
Neem oil, which is extracted from the seeds of the neem tree, is also believed to possess certain health benefits. It is used as an ingredient in various products, like soaps, shampoo, organic pesticides, herbal medicines, and other cosmetics. The oil is extracted through cold pressing or solvent extraction. Neem oil produced through cold pressing is of higher quality, as compared to that of solvent extraction. Neem cake, a byproduct of neem oil production, is highly valued as a fertilizer. The oil is usually light to dark brown in color, with a very strong odor. Bitter in taste, this oil is not usually used for culinary purposes. Neem oil does not dissolve in water, unless it is formulated with certain surfactants.
Benefits of Neem Oil
This oil is extensively used in Ayurveda, for treating various medical conditions, like skin diseases, inflammation, rheumatic conditions, malaria, and leprosy. The following are some of the common uses of neem oil.
- This oil has excellent moisturizing effects, and is used for dry skin. It is used for repairing damaged skin, and to restore its natural elasticity. With strong antibacterial properties, neem oil is said to be beneficial for oily skin, as it prevents acne.
- Neem oil is also used for relief from skin irritation, itching, redness, etc., and for lightening scars and pigmentation. Skin infections caused by fungus and other parasites are treated with neem oil. It has been suggested that this oil can be effective in treating psoriasis, scabies, and eczema.
- Neem oil is also used for hair care. You might have heard about the use neem for relief from dandruff and itching of the scalp. Some people use it for controlling and preventing hair loss, hair thinning, and premature graying. It is also used to treat conditions, like scalp psoriasis.
- You can also get rid of head lice by using neem oil, which is also beneficial for nails, as it prevents cracking and peeling. Nail infections, like toenail fungus, are treated with this oil.
- Neem oil is also useful for maintaining the health of your pet dog. This neem product can ward off fleas, ticks, and mites. You may either use a neem dog shampoo, or add a few drops of neem oil to your regular brand. A neem oil spray can also be used instead of a neem shampoo.
- You might have heard about the use of neem oil as insecticide. This oil is very widely used in organic farming for the purpose of pest control, and is said to be highly effective against aphids, flies, Japanese beetles, locusts, mites, mealy bugs, spider mites, etc. Even powdery mildew and black spots can be controlled with neem oil. For this purpose, neem oil is diluted with water, and a small amount of mild dish washing soap. The ratio is one teaspoon of neem oil and ¼ teaspoon of liquid dish washing soap, for one quart of water.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.