The Power of Neem
What is Neem?
Neem oil is a vegetable oil pressed from the fruits and seeds of the neem (Azadirachta indica), an evergreen tree which is endemic to the Indian subcontinent and has been introduced to many other areas in the tropics. It is the most important of the commercially available products of neem for organic farming and medicines.
The Neem tree can thrive in climates that range from hot, or tropical (45 degrees Celsius) to altitudes of semi-temperate, higher altitude regions, with temperatures slightly above freezing. Used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for more than 2,000 years, the Neem tree’s bark, Neem leaves, Neem seeds, and roots can be made into various medicinal remedies for a wide range of ailments, ranging from anti-hemorrhoids and loss of appetite, to leprosy and other skin disorders.
Uses For the Human Body
– Used widely in India as an antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiseptic, antiparasitic agent in toiletries, soap, toothpaste and skin/hair care products.
– It is used to treat skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, ringworm, scabies, syphilitic sores, chicken pox etc.
– It can be used to get rid of lice and control dandruff. In toothpaste in helps relieve swollen and bleeding gums and kills the bacteria that cause gingivitis.
– Neem powder can be used in a foot bath powder to kill fungus and bacteria. Mixed with clay, it makes a great facial for those with acne and other skin problems. Add to liquid soap base for an anti-bacterial hand soap.
– Use in bug repellant lotion bars to keep the bugs away. Use in pet soaps to kill and repel fleas and to treat hot spots. Neem oil can be sprayed on plants to keep insects from devouring the leaves.
– Traditional Ayurvedic uses of neem include the treatment of acne, fever, leprosy, malaria, ophthalmia and tuberculosis.
– Various folk remedies for neem include use as an anthelmintic, antifeedant, antiseptic, diuretic, emmenagogue, contraceptive, febrifuge, parasiticide, pediculocide and insecticide.
– It has been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of tetanus, urticaria, eczema, scrofula and erysipelas.
– Traditional routes of administration of neem extracts included oral, vaginal and topical use.
– Neem seed oil has also been found to prevent implantation and may even have an abortifacient effect similar to pennyroyal, juniper berries, wild ginger, myrrh and angelica
Uses for organic farming and gardening
Neem trees are now grown commercially in more than 30 countries, and have even been successfully introduced into warmer regions of North America. Because of its climatic versatility, Neem trees are being used in many reforestation projects around the world. A worldwide foundation, known as the Neem Foundation, helps make people aware of the values of the Neem and other natural “green” products for a better and healthier lifestyle. The use of Neem tree pesticides, as noted above, is creating a greater awareness of the benefits of natural, non-chemical solutions for our environment.
Formulations made of neem oil also find wide usage as a biopesticide for organic farming, as it repels a wide variety of pests including the mealy bug, beet armyworm, aphids, the cabbage worm, thrips, whiteflies, mites, fungus gnats, beetles, moth larvae, mushroom flies, leafminers, caterpillars, locust, nematodes and the Japanese beetle.
Neem oil is not known to be harmful to mammals, birds, earthworms or some beneficial insects such as butterflies, honeybees and ladybugs if it is not concentrated directly into their area of habitat or on their food source.
It can be used as a household pesticide for ant, bedbug, cockroach, housefly, sand fly, snail, termite and mosquitoes both as repellent and larvicide (Puri 1999). Neem oil also controls black spot, powdery mildew, anthracnose and rust (fungus).
Neem oil has an extensive history of human use in India and surrounding regions for a variety of therapeutic purposes. Puri (1999) has given an account of traditional uses and therapeutic indications and pharmacological studies of this oil, in his book on neem.
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