Neem, described as one of the five sacred trees in Vedic texts, has been used for its medicinal properties for as long 3,500 years. It abounds with so many therapeutic properties that our ancestors called it Arista meaning ‘that which is complete, imperishable or perfect’. In Sanskrit, it is often referred to as Sarva Roga Nivarini, which translates to ‘curer of all ailments’.
Other Sanskrit monikers for neem are Pichumarda, Pichumanda, Yavenshta, Sarvatibhadra, Neta, Hinguniryasa, Shukhaprya, Subhadra, Prabhadra and Sutikta.
From the tip of its leaves to its mighty roots, each part of the neem tree brims with healing properties, all of which can be found in neem oil.
In Ayurveda, neem oil is used to balance Kapha and Pitta Doshas because of its cooling properties. It is also used in many medicinal blends to treat skin conditions.
Neem oil boasts close to 135 bioactive compounds that give it anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, antiseptic, insecticidal, antidiabetic, antioxidant, analgesic and healing properties. These compounds include azadirachtin, nimbin, flavonoids, carotenoids and vitamin E.
How neem oil benefits hair
Lice infestation causes hair fall. Hair turns brittle and lustreless because it does not receive sufficient blood supply and thus nutrition. If you suffer from head lice, you can apply neem oil to your scalp and hair. Azadirachtin and nimbin in neem kill lice and after two hours, you can comb them out with a knit comb. Since the oil has strong antifungal and antibacterial properties, it can also help dandruff triggered by fungi and bacteria. Applying neem oil to patchy bald spots caused by fungal overload can induce hair regrowth.
How neem oil benefits skin
Neem oil cures many skin related conditions including, ringworms, rashes, sunburn, fungal infections and insect bites. Its antiseptic and healing properties promote wound healing on a minor scale as well. Since it is an oil, it is naturally replete with moisturizing fatty acids like linoleic and oleic acid.
How neem oil benefits the face
If you massage your face with neem oil and wash it off after 10 minutes, you will see a marked reduction in pimples, acne, whiteheads and related inflammations. Along with reducing inflammation, it increases cell turnover and elasticity. The synergistic effect of antioxidants like carotenoid and vitamin E as well as moisturising triglycerides make it a great anti-ageing oil. Continuous use of neem oil reduces hyperpigmentation and treats micro-tears in the skin.
How neem oil benefits other plants
Neem oil is a terrific insecticide. It can be used as a pesticide against mites, grasshoppers and insect larvae. Additionally, it works against fungi that cause diseases such as black spot, rust, scab and leaf spot.
Using neem oil to repel insects
You can add a few drops of neem oil to a diffuser to keep your house free of mosquitoes. Alternatively, you can mix it with a base oil and apply it at night to prevent insect bites. It is especially effective against the malaria spreading Anopheles mosquito.
Note: Neem oil is potent; therefore, it needs to be mixed with a carrier oil like sesame oil, coconut oil or sweet almond oil before it is applied to skin or hair. It was once used as an effective contraceptive and hence, pregnant women or those trying to conceive are advised against the use of it.
With a myriad of benefits, it isn’t difficult to understand why neem still holds its position as one of the strongest medicinal herbs.