The neem tree is a tropical evergreen tree native to the Indian sub-continent. It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for more than 4000 years due to its medicinal properties. Neem is called ‘arista’ in Sanskrit a word that means perfect, complete and imperishable. Most of the plant parts such as fruits, seeds, leaves, bark and roots contain compounds with proven antiseptic, antiviral, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, antiulcer and antifungal uses. The Sanskrit name ‘nimba’ comes from the term ‘nimbati swasthyandadati’ which means to give good health. The benefits of neem have been listed in detail in ancient documents like Charak and Sushrutha Samhitas. The Persian name of Neem is ‘Azad-Darakth-E-Hind’ which means ‘Free tree of India.’ Neem tree is the most researched and is said to be the most promising tree of 21st century. It has great potential in the fields of pest management, environment protection and medicine.
Since time immemorial Indians are aware of medicinal properties of neem. Neem has been extensively used in Ayurveda, Unani and Homeopathy. Traditionally, many disorders like inflammation, infections, fever, skin diseases, dental disorders and others have been treated with different parts of neem tree such as leaves, flowers, seeds, fruits, roots and bark. Neem leaf exhibits a wide range of pharmacological activities like anti-inflammatory, anti hyperglycaemic, anti ulcer, antioxidant, antimalarial, anti fungal, antibacterial, antiviral, anti carcinogenic and immunomodulatory.
Ayurvedic literature lists various medicinal uses of neem. It describes neem bark to be cool, bitter, astringent. It is useful in tiredness, cough, fever, loss of appetite, worm infestation in the form of decoction. It can also be used in skin diseases and diabetes. Neem leaves are beneficial for eye disorders and insect poisons. It is a proven antileprotic. Neem fruits are bitter, antihaemorrhoid and antihelmenthic.
Neem is called ‘Sarvaroga nivarini’ meaning the curer of all ailments. In rural India, delivery chambers are fumigated with burning bark of neem. Dried neem leaves are burnt to repel mosquitoes. Neem leaf paste has been used to treat chicken pox, warts etc. Neem twigs are used as tooth brushes in rural India which helps in reducing the oral plaque index and bacterial count.
Neem is used to treat malarial fever in Ayurveda, generally decoction of the leaves is used. Neem oil is used as mosquito repellant over nets, mats etc.Studies are being carried out on the effect of administration neem solutions on cancer, diabetes, heart diseases and AIDS.Neem leaves are one of the best medicine for external application in most of the skin diseases including chicken pox, itching, rashes etc.
Religious rituals in many parts of India include the neem leaves. The most important one is the exchange of neem leaves and jaggery on the first day of the spring. This ritual especially increases the immunity of the body against all the diseases which may occur due to the sudden change in seasons.Owing to its versatile characteristics neem is rightly called the ‘Village Pharmacy” or ‘Doctor tree’ or ‘Wonder tree of India’ or ‘the bitter gem’.Neem is beneficial not only to humans but also to animals as well as our environment. The neem tree not only purifies the atmosphere but also is known to increase soil fertility and water holding capacity.
Neem leaf juice 1tsp along with 1tsp bilwa leaf juice twice a day empty stomach is said to be very effective for diabetes. For almost all kinds of skin disorders, neem leaf paste along with fresh turmeric paste can be applied for immediate relief. Suffering from skin allergies—put some neem leaves in your bathing warm water and be relieved. These are some of the common simple uses of neem. Therefore grow this beautiful tree around your house, breathe pure air, and be healthy.