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Neem or Margosa (Azadirachta indica) is considered to be a miracle tree in India, where every bit of the tree has a beneficial use. Its use is steadily growing in alternative and organic applications around the world. The neem tree is believed to have originated somewhere in the Myanmar-Bangladesh-Assam region, and later spread almost all over India. It is now found in around 30 countries of Asia, Africa, Central and South America.

The neem tree is middle sized with a billowing, cumulous crown. A short trunk and dense canopy make it wind-firm and an excellent shade tree. Its leaves are easily identifiable – compound leaves with 8-10 pairs of pointed and serrated leaflets. They are intensely bitter and have a lovely clean aroma. The small round fruit (2cm) is green and later ripens to yellow. The bark is thick, rough and grayish-brown with vertical furrows (see Trees of Delhi, by Pradip Krishen)


[edit] Therapeutic Uses

Neem Oil
Neem Oil
  • Neem has been used in Ayurvedic and Unani medicine since ancient times. Its leaves, fruits, seeds, oil and bark are the ingredients of several traditional medicines.
  • Neem has excellent antiseptic and disinfectant properties. Its oil is used directly, or added to ointments to cure skin diseases, eczema, ring-worm, ulcers, boils, septic sores and burns. Neem oil is also used to treat leprosy.
  • Laboratory tests have shown that neem ointment can cure fungal infections of the skin, hair and nails, as well as Athlete’s foot and thrush.
  • A common home remedy to relieve itching during chicken pox and measles, is to boil neem leaves in water and have a bath in it, or to use a twig of dry neem leaves to lightly go over the area that is itching.
  • Recent experiments are being conducted to use neem as an anti-malarial medicine. Neem has a limonoid called gedunin, which could be an effective quinine substitute. In fact it is already being used in China in an anti-malarial formulation called “Quinahausa”. (
  • Margosa oil has been tested and proven to be an effective spermicide that could be used by women as an external contraceptive.
  • Neem leaf juice significantly reduces insulin requirements for non-insulin dependent diabetes patients.
  • Neem is traditionally known to be a blood purifier – a home remedy for acne is to have a spoonful of raw neem leaf juice everyday.

[edit] Household uses

  • Neem is excellent for dental hygiene. One of the most common natural toothbrushes in India (and some parts of Africa) is a twig of neem, stripped of its leaves. Each morning village people just step out into their courtyards and break a twig and chew on it, using the fibres to brush their teeth.
  • In Indian villages dried neem leaves are often burned to drive away mosquitoes.
  • Neem oil massaged into the scalp effectively kills lice and nits.
  • Dried neem leaves can be kept in linen and woolen clothes to keep away moths.
  • Tender neem leaves are cooked and eaten as an appetizer at the start of a meal. They enhance appetite and sharpen the taste buds.

[edit] Organic farming

Neem is a wonderful renewable source of bio-degradable, non-toxic and highly effective fertilizers and pesticides.

  • The kernel of the neem seed is powdered and pressed into cakes, which is later soaked in water to make a broad spectrum pesticide.
  • The outer coating of the seed is crushed and used as fertilizer.
  • Neem oil (mixed with water) or the juice of neem leaves diluted with water is sprayed on leaves for pest-control.

[edit] References

  • The Benefits of the Neem Tree
  • Neem Foundation
  • Neem

[edit] See Also