Botanical: Azadirachta indica
Family: Meliaceae (mahogany)
Other common names: Pride of India, Azadirachta, Nim, Margosa, Holy Tree, Indian Lilac Tree,
Bead Tree, Nimba
Neem Leaf is said to be India's best-kept secret, and for thousands of years this "Pride of India" has treated more than one hundred health problems! It is said to be one of the most important detoxicants in Ayurvedic medicine and is also believed to be an herbal parasiticide, a potent antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial that combats infections of all kinds. In addition, Neem is used to facilitate digestion, support heart health (helping to improve circulation and reduce cholesterol levels), regulate the bowels, help the urinary tract and treat fevers and pain. Important, new research claims that Neem may assist diabetics and combat malignant diseases.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Neem Leaf comes from the luxuriant Neem tree that is a native of India, where five-thousand-year-old seals, bearing the Neem tree, were excavated from the Indus Valley Civilization. It has also been widely cultivated and naturalized in the West Indies and southern United States. The thick trunk produces spreading branches that bear alternate, broad, bipinnate, dark-green leaves that can be three feet long, and numerous leaflets. This attractive evergreen also produces purplish, honey-scented, fragrant flowers, which grow in long panicles and bloom in early spring, and an olive-like fruit. The Neem tree grows widely throughout India, often reaching over one hundred feet in height, and it has been revered as the symbol of health in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Neem was mentioned in many ancient texts, including the Charaka Samhita, and today, Indian medical authorities place Neem at the pinnacle of their pharmacopœia as a treatment for a wide array of diseases and complaints, ranging from leprosy and diabetes to ulcers, skin disorders and constipation. Historically, Neem has been used by herbalists in Southeast Asia for hundreds of years to reduce tumors. Modern researchers are now studying its use internally for lymphocytic cancer; and scientists in India, Europe and Japan have found that the polysaccharides and liminoids in Neem may reduce tumors and malignancies and have been effective against lymphocytic leukemia. Another study claimed that the leaves prevented the adhesion of malignant cells to other body cells, thereby inhibiting its spread throughout the body and making it more easily destroyed. Two ingredients of Neem Leaf, namely nimbolide and 28-deoxonimbelide, have been shown to kill several diseased human cell lines when tested in the laboratory. The growth of the sturdy Neem tree is inextricably linked to the history of the Indian way of life, because it has been an important source of shelter, food, fuel and medicines, and it was venerated as a protector of the Indian villager (particularly women and children). Of all the plants that have been beneficial to humanity, few are as distinguished as Neem for its astonishing versatility. In Sanskrit, the Neem tree is called Sarva Roga Nivarini, "the curer of all ailments," and Muslims refer to it as Shajar-e-Mubarak, "the blessed tree." This hardy, fast-growing deciduous can tolerate poor soil and prolonged drought and generally grows in well-drained soil in sun at a minimum of about sixty degrees Fahrenheit. Neem's botanical genus, Azadiracta, is derived from the Persian words, azad, meaning "free" and dirakht, meaning "tree." Its botanical specific, indica, means "of Indian origin," and so, Neem (the "Pride of India "), has often been called The Free Tree of India, because of the abundant benefits it provides. Azadiracta indica is closely related to its hardier relative, Melia azadirachta, which is also called the "Pride of China," and the two have similar properties and are sometimes used interchangeably. Neem Tree is considered such an effective antibacterial and insecticidal that its leaves are often used in libraries to protect against insect damage, and when used in pest control, Neem is also mixed with stored grain to prevent insect damage. Furthermore, besides being hard and fast-growing, its chemical resistance to termites makes the Neem tree a valuable construction material. Even the twigs of this tree are used by millions of Indians as an antiseptic toothbrush (dentists confirm that this practice guards against periodontal disease and helps to reduce oral bacteria), and its oil is used in the preparation of antibacterial soaps and toothpastes. Neem's many medicinal virtues are attributable to its chemical constituents, and some of the components in Neem Leaf include protein, essential oil, carbohydrates, tannic acid, resin, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin C, beta-carotene, glutamic acid, tyrosine, aspartic acid, scopoletin, stearic acid, alanine, glutamine, rutin and quercetin (flavonoids) and nimbosterol (ß- sitosterol), as well as number of potent liminoids (nimbin, nimbidin azadirachtin, salannin, meliantriol and nimbinene).
Neem Leaf is a bitter tonic herb that helps to nourish and strengthen the digestive tract and is excellent for digestive disorders. Because it is believed to work wonders for the gastrointestinal tract (the passage along which food passes for digestion, including esophagus, stomach, duodenum, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, small and large intestines), Neem is often taken to correct problems of the stomach and bowels and is effective in easing nausea, indigestion, gastritis, intestinal distress, hyperacidity, and peptic and duodenal ulcers. It also appears to reduce gastric secretions and aids in eliminating toxins and harmful bacteria from the system, thereby reducing stomach discomfort.
In the treatment of constipation, Neem Leaf is thought to be an effective purgative, especially in larger doses, but because it is also a soothing demulcent, it is not a harsh laxative, and its use is thought to regulate bowel function. It has also been used as an anthelmintic, which destroys and expels intestinal worms, perhaps because of its effective laxative and parasiticidal properties.
Neem Leaf is thought to support heart health in several ways. Recent studies have shown that the leaf extract, nimbidin, significantly lowers serum cholesterol levels, which helps to reduce blood clots. Nimbidin also causes blood vessels to dilate and may be responsible for helping to reduce blood pressure and improving blood circulation. These actions are thought to reduce the risk for arteriosclerosis, stroke and heart attack. Moreover, it is also thought to slow rapid heartbeat and inhibit irregularities of the rhythms of the heart (arrhythmia).
Neem Leaf is said to improve many urinary tract disorders, especially burning urination. The leaf extract, sodium nimbidinate, acts as a diuretic, promoting the flow of urine, and this action helps to relieve phosphaturia (excess phosphates in the urine) and albuminuria (excess albumin in the urine), which can be caused by chronic congestion of the kidneys. The increased urine helps to flush the kidneys and further cleanse toxins from the system.
The tannin in Neem Leaf acts as an astringent, and as such, it has been used to remedy diarrhea and dysentery.
Neem Leaf is said to be one of the finest detoxicants available that clears pollutants from the body. Neem's herbal antiseptic and detoxicant qualities are said to cleanse the blood of harmful bacteria that cause infections. Moreover, cleaner blood is invaluable for improving skin conditions, and Neem Leaf has been famous for its beneficial effects in cases of skin diseases and problems, including eczema, psoriasis, septic sores, infected burns, boils, acne and scrofula.
Supporting Neem's traditional role as an antibacterial (twig) toothbrush, modern studies confirm its important role in total oral hygiene. Neem's antimicrobial and oral antiseptic properties are effective in reducing plaque, caries, gingival scores and pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria in the mouth. A mouthwash prepared from Neem extract was found to inhibit the growth of Streptococcus mutans, an oral pathogen (bacteria) responsible for dental caries and was effective in reversing mouth ulcers (incipient carious lesions).
Research is currently being conducted into the use of Neem Leaf for diabetes. A study indicated that a number of insulin-dependent diabetics were able to reduce their insulin considerably when treated with Neem Leaf extract and Neem oil. The general impression is that Neem may enhance insulin receptor sensitivity and may work well on Type-2 diabetics.
Neem Leaf is a virtual living pharmacy and is a powerful antibacterial and antifungal. Its quercetin content (a polyphenolic flavonoid) helps to combat and reduce infections and certain fungi. Neem is believed to destroy the fourteen most common fungi that infect the human body, such as athlete's foot, nail fungus, intestinal tract fungi and a fungus that is part of the normal mucous flora that may get out of control and lead to lesions in the mouth, vagina, skin, hands and lungs.
As an antiviral, Neem Leaf has been used to combat smallpox, chicken pox, and recent tests have shown that it may be effective against herpes virus and the viral DNA polymerase of hepatitis-B virus.
Neem has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat malarial fevers, and recent experiments have shown that one of the Neem's components, gedunin, is as effective as quinine against malaria. It is also used to control trypanosomiasis (African sleeping sickness or Chagas' disease), caused by a parasite that lives inside nerve and muscle cells. Neem is also considered effective in reducing fever, relieving pain and reducing inflammation.
Neem Leaf is said to be an expectorant that loosens and expels phlegm and congestion from the respiratory system and has been used to relieve dry cough, nasal congestion, bronchitis, laryngitis, pharyngitis, tuberculosis, pleurisy and other respiratory disorders.
In ancient Indian medicine, Neem has been used effectively as a contraceptive since the first century B.C., when an eminent Ayurvedic physician wrote of its use for this purpose. It is a highly potent antibacterial, spermicidal, parasiticide, antifungal and antiviral; and in cases of sexual contact, current studies claim that it may help to prevent AIDS, gonorrhea, trichomonas, chlamydia and other sexually transmitted conditions. Whether ingested or used topically in the vagina, the leaves and oil have been said to be effective in killing human spermatozoa. Many women in Madagascar chew Neem leaves every day, which is believed to prevent pregnancies; and in cases of unwanted pregnancies, it is thought to be capable of inducing a miscarriage (it is a uterine stimulant that has also been used to stimulate suppressed menstruation). Neem Leaves have been used as a vaginal douche to heal wounds caused during delivery and disinfect the vaginal passage.
When used externally, Neem Leaf is used as an eyewash for the treatment of night blindness, in shampoos for hair loss and premature graying. Used topically, its antiseptic, insecticidal and antiviral properties are believed efficacious against septic sores, warts, infected burns, ringworm, lice, boils, ulcers, indolent ulcers, glandular swellings, wounds, smallpox, syphilitic sores and eczema. Its anti-inflammatory qualities will also relieve painful joints and muscles.
With regard to malignant diseases, we'll repeat several historic applications associated with Neem Leaf (cited above in the History of the herb): Neem has been used by herbalists in Southeast Asia for hundreds of years to reduce tumors. Modern researchers are now studying its use internally for lymphocytic malignancy; and scientists in India, Europe and Japan have found that the polysaccharides and liminoids in Neem may reduce malignant growths and malignant diseases and have been effective against lymphocytic leukemia. Another study claimed that the leaves prevented the adhesion of malignant cells to other body cells, thereby inhibiting its spread throughout the body and making it more easily destroyed. Two ingredients of Neem Leaf, namely nimbolide and 28-deoxonimbelide, have been shown to kill several diseased human cell lines when tested in the laboratory.
Neem Leaf Herbal Supplement should not be given to the weak, the elderly or children under twelve years of age.