As an organic and herbal medical treatment, Neem is becoming more and more popular than chemical medicines.

Jan 22 - 28, 2007

From pre-historic times of human history, people have been making use of the remarkable Neem tree. Ancient herbalists had discovered the analgesic qualities of the willow tree, from which aspirin is derived and Neem leaves, branches and fruit of which were used to cure many diseases. Its curative qualities are discussed in the earliest Sanskrit writings, Ayurvedic and Unani Hikmat. As these were and are still used frequently in rural areas, it is popularly called "Village Pharmacy". It cures diseases ranging from bad teeth, bed bugs to ulcer and malaria and even cancer and AIDS. According to the National Research Council (USA) : "Neem is a tree for solving global problems".

Over thousands of years, Neem is being used by hundreds of millions of people and no hazards have ever been observed for normal dosages. Moreover, as organic and herbal medical treatment, Neem is becoming more and more popular than chemical medicines. It enjoys a significant position in herbal school of medicines.

Modern scientists are finding more and more uses of this remarkable tree. Its seeds, bark and leaves contain compounds with proven anti-septic, antiviral, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer and anti-fungal uses. A brief account of Neem products as remedies for various diseases is given below:

Psoriasis: Skin diseases have become very common now-a-days due to excessive absorption of chemicals in food, medicines and environment because of environmental pollution. Neem seed oil and leave extract are wonderful cure for psoriasis (skin diseases). It relieves itching and pain while reducing the scale and redness of the patchy lesions. Simply, if Neem leaves are available, boil them in water and wash the affected area of the body with this water but as a caution use of soap and shampoo is not allowed.

Periodontal diseases: German researchers have proven that Neem extracts prevent tooth decay and periodontal diseases. Twigs of the Neem tree are used daily by about 600 million people as a "natural" tooth-brush.

Diabetes: Oral dose of Neem leave extracts reduce insulin requirements between 30 to 50 percent for nonkeytonic - insulin fast and insulin sensitive diabetes. People chew Neem leaves as a precaution for hypertension and diabetes.

Malaria: Leaves and seed extracts were tested for malarial activity. There is an active ingredient in Neem leaves called Irodin-A, which is toxic to various strains of malarial parasites.

Obesity: Obesity is very common now-a-days amongst males and females of all ages. Ancient Vaids usually recommend a bitter paste of leaves and Margosa oil as a cure for obesity.

Family planning (Birth control): Neem oil has contraceptive effect and is used as a vaginal lubricant. It proved 100 percent effective in preventing undesirable pregnancy. Neem extracts reduce fertility and is thus called spermicidal. Oral intake of Neem oil causes male sterility.

Heart diseases: Neem delays the coagulation of blood, calms erratic heartbeats and helps to reduce elevated heart-beat rates and high blood pressure. It has ingredients, which lower cholesterol level and clear arteries of fat.

Ulcer: Neem extracts give significant protection from discomfort and accelerate healing of gastric and duodenal lesions.

Cancer: Contents like polysaccharides and lemonades found in Neem bark, leaves and seed oil reduce tumors and cancers without side effects.

Stimulation: Oil extract from Neem seeds is a valuable stimulant. It is also antiseptic, bactericide and is usually used in chronic rheumatism, scrofulous, ulcer and many scaly diseases.

AIDS: According to the National Institute of Health, U.S.A. Neem extracts kill the AIDS virus and patents have been awarded for these extracts as an AIDS treatment.

Briefly, different Neem products are used to ward off different diseases and ailments, a brief account of which is given below in the interest of readers.

- Drinking two cups of Neem leaves tea or taking Neem capsules would enhance the immune system.

- The juice of leaves (5 ml) mixed with equal amount of honey reduces oozing from ears and also removes inflammation.

- The ash of Neem leaves taken orally is used to remove urinary stone.

- The bark of Neem is bitter and has the property of curing fever and is a tonic.

- Neem oil is used against ticks and lice, mosquitoes and flies. Burning of dried leaves provide vapour and smoke, which is fatal to insects. It has anti-septic and anti-bacterial property. Research about this was made in Germany and Brazil.

- Neem oil is also used in crippling limbs.

- The use of different parts of Neem are meant to cure constipation, diabetes, itches, pyorrhea, insomnia, stomach-ache, etc.

- Children are fed Neem leaves and Neem oil is applied to treat scabies, head lice, fungal infections and chicken pox.

- Oil extract from seeds is a valuable stimulant, anti-septic, bactericide and is usually used in rheumatism, serofulosis, ulcer and scaly diseases. Its flowers are eaten raw or are used in curries and soups, which are useful in dyspepsia and general debility.

- Neem leaves and oil are used in soaps, tooth pastes, lotions, shampoos, mouth wash, cosmetics and toiletries.

- Neem leaves and oil eliminates ecto-parasite in animals namely etenocephalites.

- The fruit oil is bitter and is used as anti-spasmodic and anti helminthic internally.

- Some Neem products are important potent against hookworm (nematodes) in animals and human beings.

- Burnt leaves are dusted on pox lesions. Green leaves have curing effect and are kept near the patients suffering from measles and typhoid

In view of Neem's innumerable medical benefits and as a pesticide for our crops, a full-fledged research is required to be carried out at our research centers - PCSIR's, Unani doctors, herbal doctors, environmentalists and ecologists. India, China and even West have made great research and prepared many commercial products for the benefit of patients in their countries and abroad as well as pesticides for agriculture. If any research has been made by Pakistani scientists, information about that must be made available on the Internet for the information of masses in Pakistan and international comity. It is needless to say that this plant should be popularized in rural and urban areas by Forests, Health, Agriculture and Environmental Protection departments. Oriental, Unani and Ayurvedic medical institutions like Hamdard, Qarshi and Ajmal must also come forward for research work in their laboratories on Neem and its products and for preparing commercial products as medicines for common people at affordable prices and also for export in the international market after conducting adequate tests and trials.