Ayurveda is a 5000 years old healing system that “considers health as a reflection of proper balance of all life forces, in a person”. In ayurveda, Neem or Azadirachta indica is mentioned as “Sarva roga nivarini” (sanskrit) which means curer of all ailments.The first indication of neem being used medicinally was about 4500 years ago.
Neem is also known as Margosa (Azadirachta indica) which means Azad (free) and dirakht (tree) in Latin. In ancient scriptures like, Charaka Samhita (500 BC) and Susruta Samhita (300 AD), Neem is mentioned a lot for treating wide variety of diseases and symptoms.
Chemical Constituents of Azadirachta indica
Neem contains fatty acids like :
- Omega-6 (Linoleic acid)
- Omega-9 (Oleic acid)
- Omega-3 (Alpha linoleic acid)
- Palmitic acid (Hexadecanoic acid)
- Stearic acid (Octadecanoic acid)
- Palmitoleic acid (9-hexa-decanoic acid)
The seed kernel of neem contains Azadirachtins. There are about 12 azadirachtins which have been identified. It also produces oil of Margosa and Gedunin. The bark of neem produces Nimbidin and Nimbin along with Nimbinol and Sodium Nimbinate. The leaves of neem have Limonoid and Triterpenes within them. It has polysaccharides, phenolic compounds (Catechin), Quercetin and Salanin. The cake of neem (seed residue left after oil extraction) is composed of Limonoids, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Calcium and Magnesium .
Caution :When consuming in excess, neem will kill sperm cells. In the first four to five months of pregnancy, when the fetus is developing, pregnant women should not have neem. If a woman is planning to conceive, she should not consume neem because excessive heat will be produced in her body.
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Neem has many compounds which attribute not only health benefits but also environmental benefits.
- Treatment of AIDS
- Used as a Pesticide
- used as a Fertilizer
- Hepato Protective
The anti-inflammatory substances we commonly use during arthritis to relieve inflamed joints (aspirin and ibuprofen) irritate the stomach and lead to upper gastro intestinal bleeding (UGIB).Neem is comparably effective to phenyl butazone or cortisone as an anti-inflammatory substance. It has no negative effects on the stomach. The active constituents in neem leaves relieve pain by working on postaglandin mechanism (autocrine and paracrine mediators) and significantly reduce acute edema (excess fluid in lungs). The polysaccharides, phenolic compounds containing Catechin and antibacterial compound (Quercetin) in neem reduce the inflammation and swelling that occurs in arthritis.
Treatment of AIDS
The studies reported in 1992 and 1994 by Dr. Van Der Nat of Netherlands first claimed that neem is helpful in the treatment of AIDS. The chemical constituents stimulate production of T-cell (fight infection) and boosts immune system. Neem has the ability to enhance cell-mediated immune response because it contains immune modulating polysaccharide. These polysaccharides are responsible for increasing antibody production. This dual action can help the body ward off the frequent infections that generally accompany AIDS.
The extracts of neem leaf, neem oil from seed kernels are effective against certain fungi including Trichophyton, Epidermophyton, Microspor Trichosporon, Geotricum and Candida. This antifungal properties of neem have been appreciated from hundreds of years, for treatment of fungal infections and skin conditions.
Oil from leaves, seed and bark of neem or Azadirachta indica possesses a wide spectrum of antibacterial action against Gram-negative and Gram-positive microorganisms, including M. tuberculosis and streptomycin resistant strains. Antimicrobial effects of neem extract have been demonstrated against Streptococcus mutans and S. faecalis.
Cancer Curing Properties
The aqueous extract of Neem leaf effectively suppresses oral squamous cell carcinoma (mouth cancer) induced by 7, 12-dimethylbenz- anthracene (DMBA), as revealed by reduced incidence of neoplasm. Neem may exert its chemopreventive effect in the oral mucosa by modulation of glutathione and its metabolizing enzymes. Traditionally, slender neem twigs (called datun) were first chewed as a toothbrush and then split as a tongue cleaner. This practice has been in use in India, Africa, and the Middle East for centuries. It is still used in India’s rural areas. Neem twigs are still collected and sold in rural markets for this use. It has been found to be as effective as a toothbrush in reducing plaque and gingival inflammation.
Neem as an Insecticide
Numerous insect species are repelled by active ingredients in the neem seed. The insects find the taste and smell of neem unpleasant, they avoid the plants that have been treated with neem extracts. Other insects die some time after by eating leaves or other parts of the plant treated with these substances. Neem alter the behaviour in some insects or reduce their ability to lay eggs. Other pest species are affected minimally or not at all by the neem substances, probably as a result of their hidden biology.
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A sprayer can be used for this purpose.The rough particles must first be filtered out of the mixture to prevent clogging the nozzle. This is done by covering a bucket or similar container with a coarse cloth or gauze through which the mixture is poured. The sprayer is filled with the filtered solution to be used on the vegetable crops.
In first century B.C., Charak gave a detailed method of using neem as a contraceptive. Neem reduces chances of pregnancy without inhibiting sperm production. Neem or Azadirachta indica has shown to be relatively inexpensive birth control agent for both men and women. The intra-vaginal application of neem oil, prior to coitus can prevent pregnancy.
Neem leaves have often been used in India to treat viral diseases as it absorbs and eliminates virus. As a preventive measure, you can prepare a neem paste and apply it on the affected area. It is very useful for treating warts, chicken pox, and small pox. This is because neem absorbs the virus and prevents it from entering unaffected areas.
It is sometimes used to treat hepatitis A virus and hepatitis B virus, and “mono” or “the kissing disease” (mononucleosis), caused by the Epstein-Barr virus.
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