Neem - How An Ancient Herb Benefits Modern Life

Neem tree and its health benefits

Although relatively unknown in the US, neem is a cornerstone of the ancient Ayurvedic healing tradition and is one of the most widely used medicinal herbs in the world. In its native India and tropical countries around the globe, neem is called the “village pharmacy” for its wide-ranging medicinal properties. The neem tree has been described in Ayurveda’s prime text,  Charaka Samhita, as sarva roga nivarini (that which keeps all diseases at bay) or arishtha (reliever of disease).

Neem extracts have been used therapeutically for thousands of years for maintaining health and overall well-being. Every part of the neem tree is useful: the roots, fragrant flowers, bark, gum, leaves, fruit, seed kernels and seed oil are all used in medicinal formulas for both internal and topical use. It has been used therapeutically for thousands of years to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and ringworm and as an insect repellent.

Neem leaves vs. Neem Oil

It is difficult to summarize all of the healing properties of the neem tree because of its versatility.

Neem leaves have been used traditionally as a blood cleanser due to their antiviral, antifungal, antiparasitic, and antiseptic qualities. Neem leaves are also used to treat many eye disorders such as conjunctivitis, skin conditions such as acne and rosacea, stomach ulcers, poor appetite, diabetes, gum disease, fever, liver disorders, and arthritis. It is also beneficial for heart function and used to prevent blood clots.

The leaf can also be used for birth control because it has spermicidal qualities. If you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, you should NOT consume products with neem because it can result in abortions and toxicity to infants.

Neem oil is used in soaps, lotions, facial masks, shampoos, and toothpastes. It helps treat fungal infections, lice, dry scalp, dandruff, premature graying of the hair, gingivitis, and skin disorders. Neem oil relieves dry skin and soothes itchy, red, irritated skin.

It has also been used to soothe the associated skin irritation caused by the chickenpox virus. Neem has the ability to improve overall skin health by fighting the bacteria that causes pimples and acne. Unlike antibiotics, neem fights bacteria without causing bacterial resistance over time. Neem oil can also be used to treat arthritis and musculoskeletal pain by massaging it directly into the skin.

Given all the possible uses of neem, how will you incorporate this into your daily routine? Here are some suggestions:

Neem and Oral Care

Neem is traditionally called the “toothbrush tree.”  Neem tree twigs are traditionally used for tooth-brushing in India and Asia. In India, it is not uncommon to see people chewing on sticks from neem trees. Chewing on the bark releases juices directly to the teeth and gums to clean teeth, restore gums, repel plaque, and eliminate bad breath.

Replace harsh, detergent-based toothpastes and alcohol based mouthwashes which are harmful to natural ecology and and important bacteria that live in the mouth. Instead, switch to a natural, gentle toothpaste that contains neem oil. It keeps gums healthy and free of plaque build-up.

Preliminary reports from universities around the world indicate that oral care products made with neem bark help to brighten teeth and maintain good oral health. Dr. M. Oz featured neem on his program and said, “Neem bark has polysaccharides in it that have been found to have pH-balancing, anti-inflammatory properties that can prevent gum disease”.

Adding neem oil to toothpaste is NOT recommended and is widely considered unsafe. Using a toothpaste containing the bark and leaves of the tree, however, preserves its concentrated antioxidant and anti-fungal properties. Discover the difference, neem can make in helping to maintain healthy teeth and gums while safely whitening your teeth by trying one of the Organix South TheraNeem Toothpaste and/or mouthwash.

Neem and Facial, Body Care

Choose one of the excellent formulas of bar soap from TheraNeem by Organix South. These soaps offer the highest amount of neem oil and other pure, natural ingredients. After cleansing, use a cream with neem oil formulated for facial use and a neem-based lotion for the body. This not only hydrates skin throughout the day, but it also kills any surface bacteria that can cause skin breakouts. 

Neem has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties which are quite effective in clearing skin infections. It also soothes irritation and reduces inflammation without drying the skin. Use a neem facial mask once a week to keep skin clear, glowing and healthy.

Neem inhibits the growth of acne-causing bacteria such as propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) and staphylococcus epidermidis is also inhibited by neem.  The role of neem in acne is further supported by studies which have shown that it exhibits anti-inflammatory activity by suppressing P. acnes-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-a and IL-8.

Scientists have discovered that neem contains extraordinarily high levels of anti-oxidiants that soak up free radicals caused by exposure to environmental toxins and sun - a primary cause of aging skin. Neem also contains long-chain fatty acids that penetrate the outer layers of skin and provide long-lasting moisture where it is most needed.  High levels of antioxidants also make it a potent ingredient in anti-aging compounds.

Neem and Hair Care

Neem has antifungal and antibacterial properties, making it effective in treating dandruff by relieving dryness and itching of the scalp. Traditionally, neem paste or oil has been used to condition and strengthen the hair and increase blood circulation to the scalp which promotes hair growth. Neem has regenerative properties which help in reducing hair fall. You can mix neem oil with any of your favorite carrier oils (olive, almond, coconut, jojoba etc) as well.

Neem also soothes irritation, prevents dryness and flaking. For dandruff control, apply a mixture of neem powder and water on your scalp and leave it for an hour before you shampoo your hair or simply use one of the shampoos and conditioners in the TheraNeem products by Organix South.

Neem and Garden and Houseplants

Americans gardeners are likely to recognize neem as an EPA-approved pesticide that is non-toxic and has no adverse effect on beneficial insects including bees.  

Neem oil contains a high amount of a substance called azadirachtin which gives the tree its anti-fungal and pesticide properties. Neem seed cake (residue of neem seeds after oil extraction) when used for soil amendment or added to soil,  not only enriches the soil with organic matter but also lowers nitrogen losses by inhibiting nitrification.

Neem oil has been used for centuries as a nematicide to protect plants from insects. It is approved for organic gardening and is a safe, effective, biodegradable plant spray.

Every two weeks, spray your vegetable garden with a homemade, natural pesticide with neem oil. There are many online sites that provide information on how to prepare and use the spray. 

Neem oil preparations can be used on all vegetation, including houseplants, flowers, roses, fruit trees, shrubs and ornamentals. It is environmentally compatible, non-toxic to mammals and birds, and does not affect beneficial insects and bees.

Neem and Pet Care

Neem also offers significant advantages for pets, especially dogs, cats and horses. Its immune-boosting properties, combined with liver-protecting compounds, are particularly important for older pets. Neem promotes a shiny, healthy coat, strong immune system and healthy skin. It is an extremely effective repellent of ticks and fleas.

Be aware when choosing which neem products to use - the oil should not be ingested by animals and while neem oil may be used safely on dogs in diluted form, the use of the oil is not recommended for cats. Check with your vet or purchase products formulated with neem that is appropriate for your pet.

Organix South offers an excellent shampoo for use on dogs or cats. The product should not be used on animals that are nursing or pregnant.

Neem and Internal Detoxification

Many people do a seasonal whole body cleanse once or twice a year that includes using a standardized dose of neem leaf in vegetarian capsules to help cleanse accumulated toxins from the body, remove any parasitic organisms, strengthen the immune system and return the body to a healthy balance.

Parasites are organisms that feed on other organisms. If you contract them they feed not only on what you eat, but also on your body. They feed on your cells, your blood, the food you eat, the supplements you take, and your energy. There are many types of parasites. The microscopic single cell protozoa cause diseases such as malaria, dysentery, and giardiasis. Another type of parasitic infestation are worms which come in many shapes and sizes, from hookworms measuring only a few millimeters to tapeworms that can grow to lengths of 37 feet. No matter the size of the parasite, they cause problems that can be overlooked by your physician.

Liver health is often compromised in parasitic infections because it is the organ responsible for removing waste products from your blood. Parasites release toxins into your bloodstream after they feed as well as when they die. The waste material emitted from these parasites is toxic to your system and, over time, the liver gets overworked, the immune system is compromised and most people feel flu-like symptoms.

If you are suffering from a chronic condition such as fatigue, digestive issues, malnutrition, or skin eruptions that have not responded to aggressive treatments, ask your physician to order a simple test to evaluate for parasites.  Even if the test is negative, which can be a false-negative result, using a natural parasite treatment could be potentially beneficial to you.

Since killing off parasites often results in a release of toxins into your bloodstream and colon, it is a good idea to take another herb to help remove the toxins. Triphala is a natural herbal supplement that supports digestion, the immune system, and helps your body detox.  Taking probiotics is also helpful in the cleansing process to maintain the proper flora balance in your digestive tract.

Neem can be taken in capsule form or as tea. removes the toxins that they leave behind as they are dying. Neem also supports proper liver function, so it helps the liver to recover from being over-worked from the parasite infection.

Disclaimer: Tao of Herbs does not sell products which are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or kill or repel any insect on humans, animals or plants, excepted as noted on individual product labels. The research presented on this page is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Warning: Neem oil, including the certified-organic oil, should NEVER be used internally. Neem leaf and bark are recommended for internal use. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take neem because it is an abortive herb and can be toxic to small children.

Always consult with your healthcare professional before starting any nutritional, herbal, homeopathic or dietary supplement program.

  Thera Neem Toothpaste  
  Thera Neem Toothpaste by Organix South, Mint Herbal Toothpaste, 4.23 oz. (120g)  
  TheraNeem Organix Mouthwash Cinnamon  
  TheraNeem Organix Mouthwash Cinnamon by Organix South, 16 fl. oz.  
  Thera Neem Shampoo  
  Thera Neem Shampoo by Organix South, 12oz