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Neem Health Benefits

Introduction

Neem is a natural herb. It's botanical name is Azadirachta indica. It is also called as Indian lilac. The extract comes from the seeds of the tree and has many different traditional uses. Neem is known for its pesticidal and insecticidal properties, but people also use it in hair and dental products. Neem products come from all parts of the Indian lilac tree.

In the past, people have used neem as a natural remedy for a variety of illnesses. Now, many people use neem as a natural pesticide. Some use it to support their hair and dental Health.  It is usually safe to use as a cosmetic product, but people should do a test patch first and speak to a doctor before using neem products on a child.

Etymology

Neem (नीम) is a Hindi noun derived from Sanskrit Nimba (निंब)

Ecology

The neem tree is noted for its drought resistance. Normally it thrives in areas with sub-arid to sub-humid conditions, with an annual rainfall of 400–1200 millimetres (16–47 in). It can grow in regions with an annual rainfall below 400 mm, but in such cases it depends largely on ground water levels. Neem can grow in many different types of soil, but it thrives best on well drained deep and sandy soils. It is a typical tropical to subtropical tree and exists at annual mean temperatures of 21–32 °C (70–90 °F). It can tolerate high to very high temperatures and does not tolerate temperature below 4 °C (39 °F). Neem is one of a very few shade-giving trees that thrive in drought-prone areas e.g. the dry coastal, southern districts of India. The trees are not at all delicate about water quality and thrive on the merest trickle of water, whatever be the quality. In India and tropical countries where the Indian diaspora has reached, it is very common to see neem trees used for shade lining streets, around temples, schools and other such public buildings or in most people's back yards. In very dry areas the trees are planted on large tracts of land.

Biotechnology

The biopesticide produced by extraction from the tree seeds contains limonoids. Currently, the extraction process has disadvantages such as contamination with fungi and heterogeneity in the content of limonoids due to genetic, climatic, and geographical variations. To overcome these problems, production of limonoids from plant cell suspension and hairy root cultures in bioreactors has been studied, including the development of a two-stage bioreactor process that enhances growth and production of limonoids with cell suspension cultures of A. indica.

Claimed effectiveness against COVID-19 

In March 2020, several claims were published on Facebook which included pictures of neem leaves and their use in treating or alleviating COVID-19 related symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, and shortness of breath.  There is no clear evidence of the effectiveness of the leaves in treating infections, and only limited clinical studies have been conducted in determining their antimicrobial properties.

Traditional medicinal use

  • Products made from neem trees have been used in India for over two millennia for their medicinal properties. Neem products are believed by Siddha and Ayurvedic practitioners to be anthelmintic, antifungal, antidiabetic, antibacterial, contraceptive, and sedative. It is considered a major component in Siddha medicine and Ayurvedic and Unani medicine and is particularly prescribed for skin diseases.
  • Neem oil is also used for healthy hair, to improve liver function, detoxify the blood, and balance blood sugar levels.
  • Neem leaves have also been used to treat skin diseases like eczema, psoriasis, etc.
  • Insufficient research has been done to assess the purported benefits of neem, however.
  • In adults, short-term use of neem is safe, while long-term use may harm the kidneys or liver; in small children, neem oil is toxic and can lead to death. Neem may also cause miscarriages, infertility, and low blood sugar.

References

Wikipedia, Divya Pharma, onlymyhealth site, Google search & self-study 

Written by : Roshan Vasantrao Pawar, Student - Indira Gandhi National Open University, Delhi, Department of Social Work



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