Azadirachta Indica, or neem as it is commonly called, is an evergreen tree originating from India. Most people in America have never heard of it, but you might want to pay closer attention. These trees are unique because they are used by people worldwide to boost wellness. That’s because everything from its roots to its bark, leaves, and flowers offers nourishment to the body.
So, what is this tree exactly, and what health benefits and risks can you expect when you take a neem supplement? We are sharing everything you need to know about Azadirachta Indica below.
What is Neem?
Azadirachta Indica trees are found throughout South and Southeast Asia and parts of Africa, the Caribbean, and South America. They can become relatively tall, growing upwards of 100 feet high with a spread of about 65 feet, on average. Its bark is thick and furrowed, and its leaves are long, thin, and rather pointed.
The roots grow deep into the surrounding soil, especially when damaged by resource harvesting. Neem flowers are small and white with a smell similar to honey. The fruit from a neem tree is small, only about 2 centimeters across. They are round and yellowish kernels filled with a sweet juice.
From traditional homeopathic remedies to research-based scientific medication, the health benefits from Azadirachta Indica trees have lasted the test of time. Traditional medicine relied on it for pains, fevers, infections, and even skin moisturizing. In fact, one of the original forms of the modern toothbrush was a neem tree twig.
Some of its properties include:
- Antidiabetic- blood sugar stabilization for Type II diabetes
What are the Benefits of Using Azadirachta Indica?
Today, several ready-made products, such as toothpaste and shampoo, contain Azadirachta Indica byproducts. So, it’s easy to incorporate this natural remedy into your diet and enjoy the following four benefits.
1) Dental and Oral Health
Neem has a reputation for being an oral health booster, even in traditional cultures. For example, chewing neem bark is common in its native subcontinent, India, because it limits the number of bacterial colonies in the mouth.
Dentists love neem for its anti-bacterial qualities that are ideal for fighting gingivitis. Don’t be surprised if your dentist recommends toothpaste and powder products containing neem on your next family dental care visit.
2) Hair Health
The seeds of the neem tree contain a compound called azadirachtin which is believed to combat parasites of the hair and skin such as lice.
Plus, the anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of the tree also make it a wonderful tool against dandruff. A reduction in itchiness, dry scalp, and irritation has been reported after regular use of neem oil. It is also possible that Azadirachta Indica can help increase hair growth.
3) Liver and Kidney Health
Azadirachta Indica is thought to improve liver and kidney function through its ability to fight oxidative stress. While prescription medications can overwhelm these organs and cause tissue damage, neem reduces inflammation and limits further damage. Since the liver and kidneys tend to work best without medicinal assistance, we only recommend temporary use to help combat oxidative stress.
4) Skin Health
The oil from neem seeds is full of fatty acids such as palmitic, stearic, oleic, and linoleic. These oils contribute to the overall antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nature of the plant, which is why it has been used to treat acne, psoriasis, and eczema.
Furthermore, studies in recent years have suggested that neem leaves promote wound healing by stimulating new blood cell formation.
What are the Risks of Using Azadirachta Indica?
As with all medications, supplements, and medical herbs, there are some precautions to be aware of before use. Consulting with a doctor is the best way to avoid potential negative side effects. However, here are some of the general guidelines for:
1) Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women
There has yet to be clinical research or trials on the effects of oral consumption during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. While topical use may be safe, avoiding neem overall will reduce any risk.
Furthermore, neem is thought to interfere with sperm, which can make it difficult to become pregnant. In fact, it has traditionally been used as a contraceptive. Doctors are also beginning to research this quality.
2) People with an Autoimmune Disease
Azadirachta Indica can trigger responses from the immune system, causing it to be more active. For those with an autoimmune disease such as multiple sclerosis or lupus, the extra hyperactivity could cause serious problems.
Occasional topical application may be safe depending on the condition, but be sure to talk to a doctor beforehand.
Topical use for children is usually perfectly fine. In fact, there are plenty of kids’ shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste that contain neem.
The danger lies in oral consumption. Serious side effects such as vomiting, drowsiness, seizures, and fainting have been reported.
4) Pre-Op Patients
Due to the blood sugar stabilization qualities of Azadirachta Indica, it might cause issues during surgery. We recommend staying away from it for at least 2 weeks before surgery. Also, be sure to consult with your doctor before resuming use, as it could interfere with medication.
Neem is an exceptionally versatile natural remedy for several ailments, including poor oral health, dry hair, and liver and kidney issues. While formal research is still needed to fully understand how it works in the body, neem has proven itself as a treatment that shows results for hundreds of years.
Keep in mind that the best results will depend on the dose you take. Like with most other medications, there are adjusted dosages for children. Each part of the plant has a different purpose, but here are a few general dosing recommendations:
- Leaves- 4 or 5 per day
- Capsule/Tablet- 1 or 2 twice a day, depending on the strength
- Juice- 3 teaspoons twice a day
- Syrup- 3 or 4 teaspoons twice a day with food
- Oil- apply topically as needed