Neem benefits the immune system by delivering a multi-pronged attack against invaders, toxins and pathogens. It contains powerful phytonutrients that are highly beneficial to immune health.
A glycoprotein unique to Neem leaf has been identified (NLGP), and research is showing it has several immunomodulatory properties. It stimulates T-cells (white blood cells that mount a head on attack against infections). When triggered by NGLP, the number of these cells rise significantly, helping to attack incoming pathogens.
Nimbin is a plant chemical unique to Neem that has anti-fungal, antihistamine, antipyretic (fever reducing), and anti-inflammatory properties. Nimbidin and Ninbidol are additional plant compounds that are anti-bacterial, anti-ulcer, analgesic, anti-arrhythmic, anti-fungal, anti-tubercular, anti-protozoan (inhibits the growth of disease-causing organisms known as protozoans), and anti-pyretic.
Neem also contains Quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that boosts the immune system by removing toxins, reducing inflammation and decreasing cellular and tissue damage. Furthermore, it is rich in carotenoids which strengthen the immune system and overall health.1
Neem leaf extracts are used as an active ingredient in many medications for heart problems. Compounds such as Genudin have vasodilating properties which relax the blood vessels which allows the blood to flow more freely. This can help to keep high blood pressure in check which reduces the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Other compounds in these versatile leaves act as mild sedatives and reduce anxiety and stress which help to control the heart rate. Neem extracts have also been found to delay blood coagulation, calm erratic heartbeats and palpitations and reduce high blood pressure.
Neem helps to restore and maintain healthy gut flora – a healthy gut microbiome is essential to breakdown food, nutrient assimilation and toxin elimination.
In Ayurveda, Neem kindles “meda dhatu agni”, the metabolic/digestive principle within adipose tissue. This encourages proper metabolism and supports healthy blood sugar levels. It is also recommended to promote a state of balance in the digestive tract, liver and pancreas.
Its anti-inflammatory properties help to ease digestive discomfort and provide relief from stomach infections. It is also taken to treat stomach ulcers, the compound Nimbidin is known to inhibit the growth of the ulcer causing bacteria helicobacter pylori.
Neem has been extensively studied for its effects on gum disease, cavities and plaque reduction. It has been shown to prevent and heal gum disease, prevent cavities, eliminate the bacteria that causes cavities and gum inflammation, prevent bacteria from adhering to the teeth, enhance oral immunity and freshen the breath.3
A 2004 study took three groups of participants and gave one group a mouthwash containing chlorhexidine gluconate. (Chlorhexidine gluconate is the most common ingredient in antibacterial dental care products). The next group used Neem gel and the last group were given a placebo gel.
The Neem gum disease study lasted six weeks, the results were measured at zero, three and six weeks. After three weeks the users of Neem gel showed the lowest dental plaque levels. They also had the lowest levels of harmful bacteria that are associated with the formation of dental plaque and tartar. The result after six weeks was the same - the Neem gel clearly outperformed the standard oral care product.4
Neem Oil makes an especially effective insect repellent. It is rich in the bioactive compound Salanin which has been proven to be effective against mosquitoes, fleas, ticks and ants.
A 1994 study by the “Malaria Research Centre” in Delhi found that kerosene lamps containing 1% Neem Oil significantly reduced the number of bites on volunteers. The protection was greater against anopheles species (the ones that transmit malaria) than against culex.
In 1996 the Malaria Research Centre of Delhi conducted another trial with kerosene lamps in an Indian village. Kerosene lamps with 1% Neem Oil were kept burning from dusk to dawn in living rooms. They found that the lamps kept the mosquitoes out of the living rooms and that the malaria incidents of the population dropped dramatically (from about ten cases per thousand people to only one in thousand). Once the lamps were removed, the mosquitoes returned and so did the malaria.2
Neem Oil can also be diluted and made into a spray as a natural flea and tick repellent for your pets. It wears off more quickly than chemical repellents, so it is necessary to reapply Neem Oil or spray more frequently.
The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of Neem Oil make it an excellent remedy for skin complaints such as acne, eczema, psoriasis and itchy inflamed skin.
The vitamins and fatty acids in Neem Oil improve and maintain the elasticity of the skin, reduce wrinkles and fine lines, leaving skin feeling rejuvenated and youthful.
Neem is also known for its anti-aging properties. Due to its powerful antioxidants, Neem protects the skin from harmful UV rays, pollution and other environmental factors.
Neem promotes hair growth due to its high level of antioxidants; this helps to protect the scalp from free radical damage which can lead to hair loss. It also stimulates the hair follicles, promoting growth of thicker, stronger more luxurious hair.
Containing the fatty acids; linolenic oleic and stearic acid, Neem Oil helps to nourish and condition the hair and the scalp. It moisturises dry, undernourished hair and leaves it feeling shiny and smooth.
Its anti-fungal properties make Neem Oil effective against the human funghi candida – one of the main causes of dandruff. Additionally, its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties help to relieve a dry, inflamed and itchy scalp.
Neem Oil is one of the best home remedies to treat head lice and nits. It contains the insecticidal compound, azadirachtin, which prevents the growth and reproduction of lice. It also contains a hormone that mimics that of the lice and interferes with its life cycle whilst inhibiting its ability to feed. The best way to get rid of head lice is to massage Neem Oil thoroughly into the scalp on a regular basis.
Folklore and history
Currently, the oldest evidence for the use of Neem comes from the ancient Indus Valley Civilization known as the Harappan. Studies into Neem were performed by Medical Practitioners of this ancient culture which tells us that Neem was already a household medicine nearly 5000 years ago.
Neem has so many benefits that even ancient Indian mythology attempted to explain why. One legend has it that Indra, king of the heavens, was carrying a pot of the "elixir of life" that could turn anyone immortal, but some of it spilled all the way down to earth onto the Neem tree, thus granting the tree its potent healing powers.
The Neem tree has always been intimately connected with the everyday life of Indians; its antiseptic properties made it part of 'cradle to death' care. Babies were bathed with Neem water and given small doses of Neem Oil and neem leaves were hung over their cradles.
With its healing properties known for over 4,000 years in its native India, the Neem tree is sacred to the Indian people. The Sanskrit word is “Nimba”, meaning “good health” and it was called "Sarva Roga Nivarini" in the Vedas which means “one that cures all ailments and ills”. Other names for this distinguished tree include; “Divine Tree”, “Life Giving Tree”, “Nature’s Dispensary” and “Village Pharmacy”.
Neem holds a special place in the hearts of the local people, it offers welcome shade in the heat of the day whilst providing safety from biting insects due to its repellent action. The seeds, fruit, leaves, flowers, roots, bark and oil are all used for medicinal and beauty purposes.
Neem Leaf constituents include; isomeldenin, nimbin, nimbinene, 6-desacetyllnimbinene, nimbandiol, immobile, nimocinol, quercetin and beta-sitosterol. Two additional tetracyclic triterpenoids zafaral and meliacinanhydrid have been isolated from the methanolic extract of neem leaves.
Seed: Active constituents have not been determined with certainty. The Neem seed extracts vary in each batch in terms of stability and activity. Two new tetranortriterpenoids, azadirachtin H and azadirachtin have been isolated from Neem seeds.