THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF NEEM

Neem tree sometimes called “the village pharmacy,” and also called “dongoyaro” in Nigeria, is a unique medicinal plant in that all of its parts including its leaves, flowers, seeds, fruit, roots, and bark can be used.

In the world, neem is a popular medicinal herb that has been part of traditional remedies that date back almost 5000 years. The neem tree is a really good example of how nature holds both the problem and the cure. It is home to more than 130 different biologically active compounds, no wonder it is such an effective anti-viral and anti-bacterial, along with being a powerful immuno-stimulant. Its other benefits include: purifying the blood, preventing damage caused by free radicals in the body, removing toxins, treating insect bites and ulcers. Neem leaves have anti-bacterial properties which is why it works wonders on infections, burns and any kind of skin problem. It destroys the bacteria that causes infections, stimulates the immune system and encourages rapid healing.

Like earlier stated, all the part of the plant is of importance:

Neem Flowers

Almost all the part of the neem tree is bitter, with the exception of its flowers. Neem flowers are white and delicate with their off-white buds that are almost too pretty to be eaten and unbelievably therapeutic. The flowers have a sweet, almost mystical jasmine like scent at night and blossom once in the afternoon and then again in the evening. Neem flowers can be used fresh, dried or in a powdered form. The flowers can also be used to treat anorexia, nausea, belching and intestinal worms. They are good for the eyes and useful in treating skin disease and headaches. They’re used in aromatherapy because of their calming effect. A 2008 study also found the alcoholic extract of the neem flowers to be an effective contraceptive.

Neem Twigs & Bark

If you were born in India or Nigeria, you would have seen people chew away at a neem twig. For many years now, a neem twig is what people used as a make-do toothbrush. It fights germs, maintains the alkaline levels in your saliva, keeps bacteria at bay, treats swollen gums and also gives you whiter teeth. The twig also shreds into threads, almost like bristles that also destroy and prevent plaque.

Neem Oil

Neem oil, extracted from neem seeds is rich in medicinal properties which are what makes it a great ingredient in cosmetics and other beauty products: soaps, hair oil, hand wash and soap. It can treat a bunch of skin diseases and is known to be an excellent mosquito repellent. It is believed that in India, small children are fed neem oil as a type of cure-all. Besides being such a great Ayurvedic healer, neem oil can be used to protect other plants.

Potential health benefits of neem

Although scientific research into neem is in its beginning stages, it shows promise for several aspects of health, including blood sugar management, as well as benefits for skin, teeth, liver, and kidneys.

These potential benefits include the following:

May boost dental and oral health

Chewing neem bark to promote oral hygiene is a common practice in India and Nigeria. Neem’s antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immune-boosting properties may promote oral health. Although more research is needed, studies indicate that neem may relieve pain and help treat gingivitis, periodontitis, and tooth decay. Also test-tube studies that suggest that neem may minimize bacteria’s ability to colonize the surface of your teeth, thus reducing plaque formation. In a 21-day study including 45 people with gingivitis, neem mouthwash was found to be as effective as chlorhexidine mouthwash a heavy duty prescription mouthwash at reducing gum bleeding and plaque.

May aid liver and kidney health

Neem’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may help fight oxidative stress, which may in turn promote liver and kidney health. Oxidative stress is caused by a buildup of unstable molecules called free radicals. Although the body naturally produces free radicals as a byproduct of metabolism, external sources increase their presence. Some drugs, including cancer medication, painkillers, and antipsychotics, may contribute to oxidative stress, leading to tissue damage in the liver and kidneys.

May improve skin health

Neem seed oil is rich in fatty acids, including oleic, stearic, palmitic, and linoleic acids. Collectively, these fatty acids have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties that promote healthy skin.

Acne

Historically, neem has been used to treat acne, it reduce blemishes, and improve skin elasticity. There are also studies that suggest that neem oil’s antibacterial properties combat acne.

Ulcer and wound healing

In a 2013, 34-day case study applying 100 mg of neem oil topically twice daily completely healed chronic skin ulcers. In another study, 6 people with intestinal ulcers took 30 mg of neem extract orally twice daily. After 10 days, acid secretion had declined significantly, and after 10 weeks, the ulcers were almost completely healed

Other potential benefits

  • Anti-malarial effects: Neem contains active compounds called limonoids. A study found that limonoids may be as effective at targeting malaria-infected cells as conventional treatments using chloroquine.
  • Anti-fertility treatment: Neem has also been considered as an alternative to a vasectomy due to its anti-fertility effects. A vasectomy is a surgical procedure that sterilizes people with testicles by stopping the release of sperm. Animal studies show that neem may immobilize and kill sperm with no long-term consequences.
  • Diabetes management: Neem extract may help revive cells that produce insulin, the hormone that helps control blood sugar and thereby lower blood sugar levels.
  • Intestinal problems: The flower is used for reducing bile, controlling phlegm, and treating intestinal worms.

Some side effects of neem

Neem is possibly harmful for most adults when taken by mouth for up to 10 weeks, when applied inside the mouth for up to 6 weeks, or when applied to the skin for up to 2 weeks. Also, when neem is taken in large doses or for long periods of time, it is possibly unsafe as it might harm the kidneys and liver.

Below are some precautions and warnings for the use of neem tree products;

Children: For children, taking neem seeds or oil by mouth is not completely safe. Serious side effects in infants and small children can happen within hours after taking neem oil. These serious side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, drowsiness, blood disorders, seizures, loss of consciousness, coma, brain disorders, and even death.

Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers: Neem oil and neem bark are not completely safe when taken by mouth during pregnancy. They can cause a miscarriage. Not enough is known about the safety of its consumption during breast-feeding but to stay on the safe side, avoid the use.

Diabetes: There is some evidence that neem can lower blood sugar levels and might cause blood sugar to go too low. If you have diabetes and use neem, monitor your blood sugar carefully and see a physician regularly.

Infertility: There is some evidence that neem can harm sperm. It might also reduce fertility in other ways so, if you are trying to have children, avoid using neem.

CLAIMED EFFECTIVENESS OF NEEM AGAINST COVID 19

In March 2020, false claims were circulated on social media in various Southeast Asian countries and African countries including Nigeria, supporting the use of neem leaves to treat COVID-19. The Malaysian Ministry of Health summarized myths related to using the leaves to treat COVID-19, and warned of health risks from over-consumption of the leaves. There is no evidence for the effectiveness of neem leaves in the treatment of COVID-19.