Neem tree has been called a wonder tree & a sacred plant in India. Find out what this plant offers & what benefits it can give you for health, beauty & organic gardening.
Today we talk about the tree that has been called everything from the sacred to beautiful to divine to wonder tree! I am talking about the neem tree here and we will also discuss why it is so beneficial and how you can reap its benefits and also, help the planet with its use in organic gardening. Read on...
Biology & botanic name of Neem -
Neem is known as Azadirachta indica and is a member of the Mahogany family, Maliaceae. Neem trees are tall, and can reach height between 25-30 meters with wide, beautiful evergreen leaves. The branches of neem tree are wide and spreading. Neem tree is one that can grow and survive in drought conditions, needing very little to no water at all. This is why neem is considered a drought resistance tree. Neem is considered a weed in places like West Africa, Australia, Middle-East and even in some Indian states. A neem tree can live more than two centuries!
History of the sacred Neem tree -
Unlike what many arrogant & ignorant Indians might tell you, neem is NOT some Indian tree, that God or some 'Ayurveda' gifted to only the Indian land!!!! The truth is neem's origins are unknown with some ancient reference calling Assam and Burma its hometown while many citing India and other Southeast countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and even Iran as its home. Yes, neem is grown and used widely in India but it is also grown and used in other countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Iran, Nepal, Cambodia, Nigeria, Australia, and many more in the Middle-East as well as South Asian and African region. In India, neem has been used for medicinal reasons since over two millennia. All parts of this tree - from leaves to its roots to stems and bark are used for medicinal and commercial purposes (as in beauty products, etc).
As of now, in the U.S., neem has been planted in southern Florida, southern California & Arizona.
Ayurvedic properties of Neem -
In Ayurveda, neem is considered to be dry and light. This means that it is easy to digest and is therefore considered 'very digestible' and can be easily taken for many ailments. However, taking it for long duration internally can cause dryness in the body, therefore, it is best to take it for short time and then stop for sometime.
In Ayurvedic, Unani and Siddha medicine system, neem is highly respected and used for skin conditions as well as in cleansing and purifying the blood. In Sanskrit, neem is called 'arista' meaning something that is safe, divine...and perfect.
Also, it is best to take it with some healthy fats like organic coconut oil or olive oil or coconut butter and such. This is to help in off-setting the dry properties of neem and aid in better absorption by the body. It is best to take neem between 1-month to 4-month duration and then stop, at least for few months. This will also help maintain its efficacy in your body and at the same time, help with better results.
Neem taste and what dosha it serves best?
Neem is bitter in taste and all bitter foods are best for pitta doshas. However, in India, all people take it without ever knowing their dosha types! So, rest assured, that if neem is calling your name, you will get its benefits, irrespective of your dosha!
Take note here that neem oil does NOT smell like roses or lavender!! It is strong, pungent and is not something you would wear when going out! So, please, if you decide to buy neem oil, I request that you do NOT give any company, store owners or online sellers low ratings - it is frustrating and extremely unethical when I see this. Blaming a company for the scent of a product despite knowing that it does not smell great, by Nature's design, is a thoughtless act.
What you can do is mix neem oil with your favorite essential oil and apply, if the smell of neem oil bothers you that much.
Neem oil aroma has been often described as 'rotten garlic' or 'rotten onions'. Well, now you know!
Neem oil at room temperatures?
Another fact about neem oil that I want to point out is that neem oil can harden at cooler room temperatures and definitely during the winter, freezing months. Simply take the neem oil bottle and put in slight warm water and this should do it. There is NO reason to freak out that your neem oil is going bad, rancid or that the company/seller has cheated you.
Ethics goes both ways - I take my time to write all this so that you will not buy and then complain to a company for false product! Be thankful to the companies that work hard to bring us all these products.
Nutrition benefits of Neem -
Neem is one plant in which all parts are useful and nothing needs to be discarded - from it's leaves to bark to stems, all parts can be consumed or used externally. However, neem leaves are the ones most commonly used by the public as well as Ayurvedic doctors in preparation of neem products. Neem fruits and seeds are used for neem oil. Neem is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and fatty acids, due to which it is very useful for skin and hair conditions.
Neem benefits for you -
Neem Oil -
How to use Neem Oil:
1. For Organic Gardening - Simply put few drops of neem oil, some eco-friendly dish soap and fill with water in the spray bottle. Now, just spray this on your plants or wherever you see a problem with bugs, aphids, mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, etc.
2. For Eczema, Skin & Hair Conditions - Apply neem oil either directly or by diluting it with some carrier oil like coconut, olive, almond, avocado, and such and massage daily onto your skin. Many people use it directly on their skin and apply directly on eczema rashes. Same way you can use on your acne and other skin problems like ulcers, rashes, redness, and so on. Hair massage with neem oil few times a week is highly beneficial for cleaning the scalp, getting rid of build-up grease and germs, dandruff and acne. It is not necessary to dilute neem oil for hair massage but your choice.
3. To Keep Bugs & Ants Away in Closets, etc - Soak cotton in neem oil and keep near windows and in closets. In India, neem leaves are plenty everywhere and these leaves are burnt to ward off insects during mosquito seasons.
4. For Toothpaste & Internally - Despite the Western world's 'fears' of neem oil toxicity from being consumed internally, the absolute truth is that since time immemorial, Indians as well as Pakistanis, Iranis, Sri Lankans, Nepalese, etc have been consuming neem oil internally and with NO toxic effects! Goodness! The Western world!!
Neem oil is basically concentrated neem leaves extract (as explained below) - not much different from the neem leaves powder! So, yes, you can add a drop of neem oil to your toothpaste and reap its benefits. You can also buy some organic neem oil and take a drop or two daily to clean your digestive tract from germs, parasites and bacteria. If you have very weak digestive system and are still scared to try it for some reason, then just start first with neem leaves powder and go from there.
How is Neem Oil made? - Neem oil is made by adding neem leaves and boiling them in water (decoction). Then you boil it in sesame oil. As all the water evaporates, neem oil will be the end result. So, this is neem oil decoction in sesame oil base. You can also use another carrier oil like olive oil or (as in India) mustard oil. Coconut oil will work great too but as I have written many times in other article (Oil Pulling), according to Ayurveda, sesame oil is the most revered and is the one used for all herbal bases.
Neem Powder & Neem Leaves-
How to use Neem Powder (Capsules or Powder):
1. For Acne & Blood Cleansing - Neem leaves are grind into powder and sold in capsule form in India and Indian stores worldwide. You can buy these neem capsules and take 2 daily or as suited to your needs. Take neem capsules for maximum of 4 months and then stop. This tip was by Ayurvedic doctor Dr.Vikram Chauhan and actually, is practiced by general public in India as it is well known that to maintain this herb's efficacy, it should be only taken for short period of time like 4 months. Just make sure you take it with some healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, etc or take with your food. Also, you can buy just raw, fresh neem leaves and have them this way as a tea and also for bath.
2. For Diabetes, Cholesterol and other health conditions - Same directions as in #1 above. Take 2 capsules with some healthy fat like coconut oil or just take with food and reap the benefits! You can also buy neem leaves powder and make it into warm tea and have it this way. This is much better option as that reduces more plastic (capsules) going in your body.
Neem Soap, Neem Butter, Neem Toothpaste, Neem Shampoo -
You can use neem soap and neem butter for skin and hair conditions. Also, you can find neem toothpaste as well as neem shampoo bars. Buy from ethical, organic companies so YOU get the highest quality products without the artificial colors, smells and chemicals.
DO NOT buy neem soaps and shampoos from Indian stores! unless they have an organic brand OR specialty handmade item. Your best bet is to buy your neem soaps, toothpaste, shampoo bars, butter, etc from a health store or online. Neem oil is OK from Indian store as it is pure and unrefined.
Great! Now, where will I buy Neem oil or capsules from?
You can buy from any Indian store (if living outside India) or from online health sites. A side note - please make note that when ordering online, to reduce wastage, bulk up your orders and request minimum packaging. We all are creating too much wastage and let this be a new decade where we completely transform the state of this planet we call home!
Thoughtful Thoughts - Plz. order ALL your items in 1 bulk order and not one-by-one. Also, request they all be packed together at checkout and do NOT choose 2-day shipping since it requires large empty trucks running across the country to deliver packages. Choose standard shipping always - save money, go green.
So, this is it for today! Now, you can reap the benefits of neem right away! Ref (1). Ref (2). Ref (3).
Help Your Loved Ones! - If this article has helped you, then please share with your loved ones! They can only be thankful that you shared! Post on FB and send via email and ask them to join the newsletter.
Questions or Comments? - Plz. do NOT e-mail me with any questions or comments regarding this article - post it in the comment section below and I will reply there only.
To ' The Wonder Tree - The Beloved Neem Tree' - till next article.
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