Neem leaves come from the evergreen Neem tree (Azadirachta indica) which is native to India and the subcontinent countries. Neem is a member of the mahogany family and has been used for medicinal purposes for over 4,000 years.1,3
Neem trees are tall, averaging up to 80 feet high and have broad green leaves that spread thickly from the branches. Although Neem trees are evergreen, which means they keep their leaves year round, the trees are very responsive to drought conditions. In dry times, Neem trees drop their leaves and then regrow them when the rains return.1,2
Virtually all of the Neem tree can be used for herbal home remedies. Primarily, the leaves are used to make topical pastes, the white, fragrant flowers are eaten as culinary garnishes, the seeds are compressed for oil, the fruit is consumed and the twigs are chewed for oral care.1,3
Neem trees are commercially grown in India and are considered a leading source of herbal remedies, although Neem products are not well known in most other parts of the world.4
Neem Leaves Health Uses and Health Benefits
Neem is a very powerful herb. Neem leaves health benefits range from pastes and extracts for skin treatments and for hair rejuvenation. Internally, neem has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that are beneficial for the blood, liver, gastrointestinal tract, immune system and the kidneys. 4
Neem benefits also include acting as an insect repellant and for agricultural pest control.1,2,3
Other Neem leaves uses and health benefits include:
- Vitiligo (Skin Depigmentation) - Vitiligo is a chronic disease of the skin where pigment cells die and create a blotchy appearance of light and dark. There is no known cure, however Neem leaves made into a paste and applied topically to the infected areas have shown to reduce the variance in colors. The fatty acids and Vitamin E in Neem leaves are the active agents in treating skin depigmentation.
- Chickenpox (varicella) - Chicken pox is a common and highly contagious childhood disease that presents as small, red sores across the entire body. It’s caused by a virus but not particularly dangerous. It results in itch and discomfort which can be relieved by ingesting Neem leaf mixtures or applying a Neem paste or oil to the skin. The anti-inflammatory compounds nimbidin and quercetin found in Neem leaves help relieve the swelling and redness caused by varicella.
- Folliculitis - Also known as hot tub rash and barber’s itch, folliculitis is the inflammation caused when hair follicles become infected. Neem leaves for skin conditions are an excellent natural remedy because they contain antiseptic and antifungal agents that can be topically applied or internally taken for treatment of folliculitis.
- Dandruff - Dandruff is flaking skin which is shedding of dead cells. It usually occurs on the scalp and is caused by a lack of moisture in the skin. Neem leaves for hair conditions such as dandruff are extremely effective at restoring natural moisture.
- Cheilitis - Cheilitis is cracking of inflamed lips and often results in the corners of the mouth splitting open. Neem leaves benefits include acting as an antimicrobial solution which is effective in stopping the inflammation and healing the lips.
- Kidney Stones - Kidney stones are caused by calcium buildups in the kidneys and can be excruciatingly painful. Ingesting a liquid extract made from Neem leaves is known to dissolve kidney stones before they are passed in whole.
Neem Leaves Side Effects and Precautions
Caution must be used when taking Neem internally. There is insufficient scientific information to establish what a safe dosage is and a doctor should be consulted if taking Neem in addition to prescribed medications. 3
Infants and toddlers should not be fed any Neem products, nor should pregnant or breastfeeding mothers use Neem without a doctor’s consultation. 1
Topical application of pastes, creams or oils made from Neem leave is considered safe. 4