And to conclude our series on the herbs and plants to be grown in your Ayurvedic herbs garden at home, what could be better than the king of medicinal plants – the Neem Tree? This Sarvaroganivarini (remedy for all maladies) has not only been a staple in Ayurveda for thousands of years, but also has been profusely used by the Indus Valley Civilization. It does not just cures illnesses, but also maintains overall health and well-being. Every part of this tree – roots, bark, stem, leaves, fruits, seeds and oil are used in preparations for internal and topical use, for health and beauty.
The neem or Indian Lilac (Azhadirachta indica) is a tropical, fast growing tree native to India and the Indian sub-continent. Beyond its medical use, the neem has also entered the cultural milieu of the Indian sub-continent with its use in several religious and cultural rituals.
Medicinal Uses of the Neem Tree:
As an antibacterial and antifungal agent:
Neem has proved time and again to be potent against some of the most harmful bacteria and fungi causing diseases to humans and cattle. They are also effective against some of the life threatening parasites, which cause diseases like malaria and encephalitis. They eliminate ringworms and other nematodes that cause gastric troubles. Neem leaves hung up in the room and using neem-based cleaner in rooms of the sick can prevent the disease from spreading.
As an antitoxic:
An effective blood purifier, neem protects the liver, improves its functioning and balances the level of sugar in blood. By purifying the blood, it also fights acne, psoriasis and the effects of eczema.
As a pesticide and insect repellent:
Burn dried neem leaves to drive away mosquitoes, boil the leaves in water to keep away crop destroying sparrows and other birds, and use dried leaves in cupboards and wardrobes to keep away destructive insects. Neem oil mixed in with coconut oil is effective against head lice.
As a tonic for hair and skin:
The detoxifying properties of neem have made it an active ingredient in the preparation of skin and hair treatment products. It fights dandruff, prevents itching and flaking of the scalp, relieves dryness and promotes healthy hair growth.
For the skin, it fights, acne causing bacteria, soothes itchiness, redness and irritation and heals without causing the wound to get septic or leaving scars and blemishes. It guards the face against environmental damages, harsh climactic conditions, prevents wrinkles, balances its tone and improves texture by rejuvenating the skin and retaining the skin’s elasticity. A mask with neem paste is the best solution for tightening skin pores and removing impurities.
As an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory:
Just a paste of crushed neem leaves is quite an effective treatment for wounds. The neem’s antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties make it an effective tool to treat wounds, scabies and other skin blemishes caused by chicken pox, shingles, ezcema etc. Neem attacks the bacteria at the root, eliminating the formation of scars and blemishes.
As a promoter of oral health:
An endearing image of village life in India is that of a farmer cleaning his teeth with a neem bark as the sun rises over the horizon. The astringent properties of the neem have been promoting good oral health by fighting tooth decay, bleeding gums and halitosis long before fancy toothpastes started making their appearance.
With all those health benefits from just one tree, it’s no wonder that the neem has been called the Village Pharmacy or the Protector of the Village. So much is the belief of the people in the neem tree that power against supernatural agents is also attributed to it. Now whether that last bit is true or not, we are quite sure that this is one sapling you would be rushing to buy from here, for all the goodness it provides.