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Neem Health Benefits

The neem tree (Azadirachta indica) has been the subject of numerous research studies. Its various medicinal and pesticidal properties prompted western companies to seek and obtain patents on its extract. Extracts of various components of the neem tree have been indigenously used in India for centuries. So what exactly are the various benefits of this tree that has been called the healer of all diseases in Ayurvedic medicinal texts. The predominant active ingredient in Neem is Azadirachtin with more than 35 other biologically active principles - however new compounds are still being discovered

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Neem and skin care:

Neem is well known for its ability to treat skin problems. Its antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic properties help keep skin infections at bay. Boiling neem leaves and dabbing acne with the water has been known to reduce breakouts. Neem leaf has an Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of 357, Neem oil has an ORAC of 430 and Neem bark has an ORAC of 476. In comparison the ORAC value of blueberries is 62 and that of spinach is 26. The ability to scavenge free radicals lends to its usefulness as an anti-ageing herb.

Neem oil either on its own or in combination with coconut oil is a very effective topical remedy for skin rashes and itching.

Mashed neem leaves are applied to boils during chicken pox to soothe and clear the skin.

Neem extract has also been demonstrated in research studies to be an effective wound healer.
In studies in Germany first conducted in 2011 and then followed up in 2014, the effectiveness of neem in healing post-surgical scalp wounds was shown. Fifteen patients between 59 to 90 years were analyzed. They had wounds of upto 16 cm in length with exposed bone. A dressing containing neem oil and hypericum oil was applied. It was observed that there was quick generation of granulation tissue which covered the whole exposed bone surface after 4 weeks in 73% of cases. This treatment was found to be more effective in terms of healing time and costs as compared to other conventional treatments methods like fascia lata, negative pressure therapy, or collagen matrix followed by skin grafting

In another study published in the Journal of Wound Care, it was shown that burn wounds in children were effectively healed with a neem oil dressing. 9 Children between the ages of 1 to 11 years were administered a wound dressing containing a mixture of neem oil and hypericum oil. The wounds ranged between partial to full-thickness burns. Granulation tissue was observed to form rapidly along with new epithelial cells. Complete healing took between 10-22 days. Children older than 5 years also reported total relief from pain within the first week of treatment.

Neem is also a well known traditional remedy for scabies and eczema. In a study published in the Tropical and Geographical Medicine journal, it was reported that a paste made of Neem and Turmeric (Curcuma Longa) was used to treat 814 people with scabies. Within 3-15 days 97% of the patients were cured. No toxic or adverse reactions were noted.

Neem for detoxification:

All parts of the neem tree including leaves, bark and flowers are bitter. It is this bitter property that makes it an effective detoxifying and cleansing agent. It improves liver function, digestive function and purifies blood.

Neem is also considered cooling. So it is common in India to consume Neem in the form of leaves and flowers during the summer months. Like Karela (Bitter melon) - another herb/vegetable consumed in summer, it helps to cool the body and stimulate digestion.

References:

Forsch Komplementmed. 2014;21(2):88-93. doi: 10.1159/000360782. Epub 2014 Mar 17.
A plant-derived wound therapeutic for cost-effective treatment of post-surgical scalp wounds with exposed bone.
Läuchli S1, Vannotti S, Hafner J, Hunziker T, French L.

J Wound Care. 2013 Dec;22(12):681-2, 684-5, 688-9.
An experience with paediatric burn wounds treated with a plant-derived wound therapeutic.
Mainetti S1, Carnevali F2.

Trop Geogr Med. 1992 Jan;44(1-2):178-81.
The use and efficacy of Azadirachta indica ADR ('Neem') and Curcuma longa ('Turmeric') in scabies. A pilot study.
Charles V1, Charles SX.

Pubmed.org

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