What’s In a Neem?
Quite a lot, in the case of this tree! Neem is known as sarva roga nivarini, or ‘the cure for all diseases’. In different forms – as powder, oil, and infusions – neem is seen as a magic ingredient for health and beauty in India. It is mixed into masks, imbibed as a tea, and even used to protect clothes from infestation. And now, scientists have proven what Ayurveda already knew – that neem has potent antifungal and antibacterial properties, along with being a strong insecticide.
More than 140 components from the neem tree can be used for therapeutic purposes and every part of the tree – the leaves, the bark, the root, the flower and the fruit – have been employed in traditional medicines for centuries. With a dizzying array of possibilities, where to start making use of neem? We have a few suggestions for you.
If you take fresh neem leaves and grind them into a paste – alternatively, add some water to neem powder – you can use neem to effectively treat skin problems like eczema and psoriasis. Spread the paste evenly and allow it to stay on for at least an hour, twice weekly. Alternatively, slather on some neem oil as it is a bit easier to use on-the-go.
For acne and rosacea, make neem water to wash your face with daily, as it will kill bacteria and fungus and reduce the intensity of pimples. Make neem water by boiling 5 quarts (about 4.7 Litres) of water, then add 1 teaspoon of dried neem leaves powder. Let it boil for another 5 minutes until the water turns brown. Let it cool and keep your stock to the side to use as a face wash for the next few days.
When you already have the sniffles, neem is a great way to speed up your recovery as it supports the immune system in fighting bad bacteria. Yet, remember to take neem wisely! Neem is a very potent plant and must not be consumed daily for more than a month. When taken over a short period it can kill bad bacteria, but when taken too frequently, might also disturb your gut bacterial balance. Using neem tea is not advised for pregnant and lactating women, or couples looking to conceive, as it has a slight (temporary) effect on fertility.
Still, nothing works better than a cup of neem to restore the body back to balance when ill. Neem tea tastes incredibly bitter on its own, so it is typically blended with other herbs and ingredients to offset the bitterness. We have one suggestion here that, in our opinion, is pretty palatable:
- 1/2 tsp of neem powder
- 1/2 tsp of green tea
- 1/2 an amla – if not available, add a pinch of amla powder
- 1-2 peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon honey (optional)
Take the neem powder together with amla, peppercorns and green tea. Boil this in 200ml of water. After the water comes to a boil, take it off the heat and let the ingredients steep for 5 minutes. Strain and add honey, if required. In summer leave out the peppercorns, as it will generate more heat in the body.
Don’t want to take any caffeine? Swap the green tea for a chamomile.
If you have any experience with neem products or any other suggested uses, please let us know in the comments!