Known by different names in different parts of the world such as Nim in Bengali, Need in Arabic, Dongoyaro in parts of Nigeria and Mwarubaini in East Africa, Neem is a tropical and sub-tropical fast growing tree that can grow up to a height of 20 meters. A drought resistant tree, it sheds most of its leaves during severe drought. It produces pinnate leaves that measure up to 16 inches long. It also produces white flowers. Neem fruits are small, smooth and oval-shaped. Neem tree is poisonous to animals with birds the only animals that feed on the fruits. From studies conducted on Neem, it has been found to contain varied beneficial substances. Neem tree products contain various medicinal properties, including antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral and sedative properties. This has made Neem tree the oldest herbal plant known to humankind. Neem tree products are used both as medicine and for beauty.
Health Benefits of Neem / Nim
- Neem oil is one of the most valuable products of Neem. The oil is not only effective in eradicating such skin conditions as acne but is also very useful in the cosmetics industry. Neem oil is widely used as an ingredient in the making of soaps, shampoos, balms, and creams. In areas where malaria is common, the oil is used as a mosquito repellant. In addition, Neem oil is effective in treating such skin conditions as eczema, dry skin, boils and ulcers.
- Neem tree produces gum, which is traditionally used as food. Those suffering from diabetes have traditionally been given Neem gum as a special food that is very effective in managing the condition.
- Neem leaves are very effective as teeth cleaners. The leaves have traditionally been chewed for teeth cleaning. The leaves contain anti-bacterial properties thought to make them that useful. Chewing Neem leaves also treats varied gum diseases and other periodontal problems. The leaves are also made into a paste and smeared on the skin of those suffering from chicken pox and measles. Concoction obtained by boiling the leaves is also effective in alleviating varied diseases.
- Neem roots have traditionally been boiled with the resultant concoction ingested. Such is effective in relieving fever and flu.
- Neem oil is very effective on hair. It prevents dryness on the scalp, premature graying of hair and hair loss.
- Concoction made by boiling Neem bark is traditionally drunk as tea and is effective in treating and managing various diseases and illnesses, including malaria.
Because of the varied Neem benefits, many research studies are currently underway to establish its capability in treating or managing other serious diseases and health conditions. Such include HIV/AIDS, malaria, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, heart disease, nerve disorders and ulcers amongst others. Neem tree is now commercially cultivated in many regions of the world, supplying pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries with the necessary ingredients for the productions of medicines and cosmetics. The agricultural sector is also benefiting, with Neem pesticides proving environmentally friendly compared to chemical sprays. With different research studies still underway, it is certain that more benefits of Neem tree are to be discovered.