Used in India for thousands of years, neem is gaining recognition in the west for its many medicinal properties. Neem is anti fungal, anti-bacterial, antiviral, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. With so many health benefits, adding neem to your diet and daily skin care can improve health inside and out.
Neem leaves have been used for their medicinal properties for centuries in India. The leaves can improve overall health, strengthen the immune system and act as a blood detoxifier. It improves circulation, liver function, the digestive system and is often used as a malaria treatment. Neem leaves can be used fresh, if you have access to a neem tree, or dried and made into teas and infusions. The leaves are bitter, making capsules a popular alternative to the dried herb.
Hair and Nails
Hair and nails benefit from a topical application of neem oil. Diluted and rubbed into the scalp, it improves dandruff and general scalp condition and, with regular use, can help slow some hair loss. On nails, neem oil can improve condition and appearance, while reversing signs of cracking, brittleness and yellowing.
Teeth and Gums
Used as mouthwash, diluted neem oil can improve gum disease, oral infections and tooth infections. In India, the twigs from the tree are used as a toothbrush. Its anti fungal, antibacterial and antiseptic properties make neem an excellent remedy for gum and mouth problems. Of course, prevention is preferred over cure and neem oil is preventative as well.
Neem is high in Vitamin E and is nourishing and healing for the skin. It can heal cracked dry skin and improve the skin cell structure. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of neem oil make it a beneficial treatment for acne. External use, combined with the blood cleansing and immune-strengthening benefits of neem leaf supplements, can have a positive effect on acne-prone skin. Neem is also used in the treatment of chronic inflammatory skin diseases, such as eczema and psoriasis.
As an internal medicine used in Ayurvedic healing, the neem leaf rather than the neem oil is used. Neem oil pressed from the seeds can be used topically but should not be used internally. Traditionally, neem oil was mixed with coconut oil or shea butter and used as a skin cream. It is generally a good idea to dilute neem oil for topical application. Increasingly, specialized products containing neem are being introduced for skin care and skin ailments. Pregnant women should avoid neem; it has some contraceptive properties and may interfere with pregnancy. Neem leaves and teas are generally safe to consume, but tinctures and extractions should be avoided unless prescribed by a trained Ayurvedic healer.