Botanical Name(s): Azadirachta Indica
Family Name: Meliaceae
Species: A. indica
Popular Name(s): Indian Lilac, Margosa Tree
Parts Used: Leaves, Flower, Oil, Seed
Habitat: Grows throughout India
A fast-growing tree, neem (azadirachta indica) can reach a height of about 15 to 20 meters (115-131 ft). The trunk is short, straight and has a diameter of 1.2 m (about 4 ft), wherein the branches spread out widely. Young leaves are reddish to purple in color and turn into dark green pinnate leaves on maturity. The white and fragrant flowers are arranged auxiliary in drooping panicles, about 25 cm in length. The smooth olive-like drupe fruit is elongated-oval to nearly roundish in shape. Neem is grown in tropical and semi-tropical regions of India, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Pakistan. It is also known as ‘Divine Tree’, ‘Heal All’, ‘Nature’s Drugstore’, ‘Village Pharmacy’ and ‘Panacea for All Diseases’ in India.
(+)- azadirachtin, nimbinene, 6-desacetylnimbinene, nimbandiol, nimbolide, p-sitosterol, salannin, gedunin, azadirone, nimbin, nimbidine, nimbicidine, nimbinol, sitosterol glucocide1, quercetin, n-hexacosanol, nonacosane, moisture, proteins, fat, fiber, carbohydrates, minerals, calcium, phosphorus, iron, thiamine, niacin, carotene, gedunin, 7-deacetoxy-7a-hydroxy gedunin, 17p-hydro.xy-azadiradione, 17-epiazadiradione and nimbiol.
Uses & Benefits of Neem
- Neem products have medicinal properties that prove to be anthelmintic, antifungal, anti-diabetic, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fertility and sedative.
- All parts such of the tree, such as seeds, leaves, flowers and bark, are used in preparing various different medical preparations.
- Its oil is used for preparing cosmetics, like soap, shampoo, balms, creams, etc, which prove handy for skin care, such as in treatment of acne, for keeping the elasticity of skin, and so on.
- Patients suffering from chicken pox are recommended to sleep on neem leaves.
- It is known to neutralize more than 500 pests worldwide, including insects, mites, ticks and nematodes, by affecting their behavior and physiology.
- The gum of neem tree is used as a bulking agent to prepare special purpose food for diabetic patients. Its twigs are commonly used for cleaning teeth.
- A decoction can be prepared from the roots of neem tree and ingested to relieve fever.
- The paste of neem leaves is applied on skin to treat acne.
- Neem leaves extract is helpful in treating malaria and purifying blood.
- Various parts of the tree are used to protect stored roots and tubers from potato moth.
- Neem is used in vitiated conditions of pitta, hyperdipsia, leprosy, skin diseases, eczema, leucoderma, pruritus, intermittent fever, wounds, ulcers, burning sensation, tumors, tubercular glands, anorexia, vomiting, dyspepsia, intestinal worms, hepatopathy, cough, bronchitis, inflammation and fatigue.
- Fresh neem leaves are mixed with grains and cereals before storing them, ensure that the latter do not get spoilt.
- In Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, neem leaves are used to prepare a dish called Ugadi Pachhadi, a type of curry prepared with neem blossoms.
- The flowers of neem are mixed with and bella (jaggery or unrefined brown sugar) and offered to friends and relatives, as a symbol of sweet and bitter events in the upcoming New Year.