Neem leaf is loaded with numerous health and skin benefits. Consuming it in the form of a paste, in tea or just chewing a twig freshly plucked from the tree has reaped multiple benefits for people since time immemorial. For over two thousand years neem leaf has basked in the reputation of being magical, particularly in southeast Asia, and it is slowly gaining recognition in the West too.
Ayurveda for generations has professed the advantages of consuming neem leaves. Both bitter and pungent in taste, neem leaf, according to Ayurveda, has been especially significant in balancing our Vata or neuromuscular disorders. It further removes toxins from our blood and enhances activity of free radical scavenging. Chewing neem leaves can also nourish our hair and treat headaches.
Here is a list of benefits you can gain out of chewing a handful of these leaves -
1. Skin Benefits
In the book 'Ayurveda For All: Effective Ayurvedic Self Cure for Common and Chronic Ailments', Murli Manohar lists how consuming neem leaves can remove toxins, and purify blood to give us a clearer skin. Neem leaves have strong anti-bacterial properties which work wonders on infections, burns and any kind of skin problems. While a paste of neem leaves and turmeric can be used for treating insect bites, itching, eczema, ring worms and some mild skin diseases, chewing the leaves can also give you a nourished, purified and radiant skin. If the bitterness bothers you, mix them with honey and have or make a solution by boiling neem leaves and drink the strained water. It can also treat all your acne and dark spot problems.
(Also read:The Acne Diet: What to Eat and What to Avoid for Flawless Skin)
2. Good for Hair Nourishing
Chewing neem leaves can prove beneficial for your hair too, with its high levels of antioxidants. Neem protects the scalp from oxidative stress caused by the free radicals. Neem leaves also stimulate healthy cell division and support hair follicle growth around your scalp region. Washing your hair with boiled neem water has been a traditional method to combat dandruff and undernourished, damaged hair. Neem leaves have antifungal properties, which work effectively against a fungi called Malassezia, which causes dandruff. Its immense healing properties has earned neem the name of scalp saviour too.
(Also Read:Neem for Dandruff: A Natural Remedy to Get Rid of It)
3. Good For Your Eyes
Ayurveda also points out how neem leaves can be good for the eyes. Chewing neem can improve your vision. To treat any kind of irritation, tiredness or redness you can also boil some neem leaves, let the water cool completely and then use it to wash your eyes.
(Also Read:Yoga for Eyes: 5 Really Easy Exercises You Can do anytime)
4. Boosting Immune System
Rich in antimicrobial, antiviral and antioxidant properties, chewing neem leaves can prove very effective in strengthening your immune system. Murli Manohar talks about how these leaves can prevent the damage caused by free radicals, thereby bringing down the risk of many diseases ranging from common flu to cancer or heart disease. Neem leaves destroy bacteria and further stimulates the immune system.
5. Improves Digestion
Neem leaves are excellent for your liver, which automatically enhances your digestion. Apart from this, consuming neem on a daily basis also destroys excess bacteria in the intestinal region and cleanses your colon, further facilitating a smoother digestion.
(Also read:3 Simple Yoga Poses After Dinner That Can Boost Digestion)
6. Oral Health
As Indians we are very well versed with the idea of men and women stepping out in their balconies to brush their teeth with neem twigs. Even chewing neem leaves can bring forth multiple dental and oral benefits. Neem being antibacterial in nature fights germs and maintains the alkaline level of our saliva. It is also effective against plaque formation and gum infections. Chewing neem can also lend you a shiny set of pearly white teeth.
However. here is a word of caution: pregnant women, especially in the fourth or fifth month of their pregnancy, should not have neem. Consumption of neem produces immense internal heat, which could prove hazardous to the foetus. Even when a woman is planning to conceive she should steer clear from neem leaves, as the excess heat would begin to treat the foetus as a foreign body. This excess body heat can be brought down with adequate intake of water or a cooling drink like ash gourd juice.
Neem holds an immense importance in the traditional culture of India. We have all heard our parents and grandparents re-iterate the advantages of neem time and again. The neem tree is said to have over 130 different biologically active compounds. Each part of the tree, be it the leaves, twigs, bark, seeds, root, fruits or flowers, is used in traditional Ayurvedic treatment for multiple issues ranging from inflammation, fever infection, skin disease and dental disorders. Replete with antibacterial, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, antimalarial, anti-microbial and anti-viral properties, neem is a remedy for almost all your health concerns. People still sprinkle a bunch of leaves near the bed of a flu-infected patient,or hang a cluster of them over their doors in a belief that the air that crosses the neem leaf is filtered of disease causing bacteria and virus.