In the world of Ayurveda, neem is a popular medicinal herb that’s been part of traditional remedies that date back almost 5000 years. Also known as Azadirachta Indica in English or ‘Neemba’ in Sanskrit, the neem tree is a really good example of how nature holds both the problem and the cure. It’s home to more than 130 different biologically active compounds! No wonder it’s such an effective anti-viral and anti-bacterial, along with being a powerful immuno-stimulant.
Murli Manohar, author of the book 'Ayurveda For All: Effective Ayurvedic Self Cure for Common and Chronic Ailments' suggests that the primary purpose of neem leaves is the treatment of vaata disorders or neuromuscular pains. Then come the other benefits: purify the blood, prevent damage caused by free radicals in the body, remove toxins, treat insect bites and ulcers. Neem leaves have anti-bacterial properties which is why it works wonders on infections, burns and any kind of skin problems. It destroys the bacteria that causes infections, stimulates the immune system and encourages rapid healing. Here are some excellent ways in which we can use neem leaves:
1. Wound healer: Make a paste out of the neem leaves and dab it on your wounds or insect bites a few times a day till it heals. 2. Goodbye dandruff: Boil a bunch of neem leaves till the water turns green, allow it to cool. After washing your hair with shampoo, cleanse it with this water. 3. Eye Trouble: Boil some neem leaves, let the water cool completely and then use it to wash your eyes. This will help any kind of irritation, tiredness or redness. 4. Treat that zit: Grind a few neem leaves, make a paste and apply it daily till the acne dries out. The paste also helps any kind of eruptions, dark spots and chronic ulcers. 5. Ear ailments: Blend some neem leaves and add some honey to it. Use a few drops of this mix to treat any ear boils. 6. Other skin disorders: Turmeric combined with a paste of neem leaves can also be used for itching, eczema, ring worms and some mild skin diseases. 7. Boost immunity: Crush some neem leaves and take them with a glass of water to increase your immunity.
Most parts of the neem tree are awfully bitter, with the exception of its flowers. White and delicate, neem flowers with their off-white buds are almost too pretty to be eaten and unbelievably therapeutic. The flowers have a sweet, almost mystical jasmine like scent at night and blossom once in the afternoon and then again in the evening. During the monsoon, you’ll see a bunch of them scattered right under the tree. Also known as Vepampoo in Tamil, these neem flowers can be used fresh, dried or in a powdered form. They’re used commonly in the South to cook a number of dishes: flower rice, pachadi, rasam, lentils and more. They’re often dry roasted and sprinkled on top of the dish to garnish as well. Neem flowers can be used to treat anorexia, nausea, belching and intestinal worms. Ayurveda suggests neem leaves are good for the eyes and useful in treating skin disease and headaches. They’re used in aromatherapy because of their calming effect. A 2008 study also found the alcoholic extract of the neem flowers to be an effective contraceptive.
Neem Twigs & Bark
If you were born in India, you would have seen people chew away at a neem twig. For many years now, a neem twig is what people used as a make-do toothbrush. 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.
Neem oil that's extracted from neem seeds is rich in medicinal properties which are what makes it a great ingredient in cosmetics and other beauty products: soaps, hair oil, hand wash, soap etc. It can treat a bunch of skin diseases and is known to be an excellent mosquito repellent. You can mix it with coconut oil and apply it over your body as well. It is believed that in India, small children are fed neem oil as a type of cure-all. Besides being such a great Ayurvedic healer, neem oil can be used to protect other plants. It can also be used in creams, soaps and other cosmetic products. Here are some great uses of neem oil you may have missed:
1. Say no to blackheads: Take 2-3 drops of neem oil, dilute it with water and apply this mix on your blackheads. Apply this regularly to get rid of blackheads and prevent them from coming back. 2. Anti-ageing: Neem oil is extremely nourishing and can be added to your face packs. It also helps ageing skin, any kind of skin irritation and itching. 3. For great hair: Take some neem oil and rub it into the scalp, leave it in for a while and wash. Neem oil can strengthen your hair, prevent hair fall and treat dandruff.