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Neem – A Green Treasure

Health Talk By Dr Chander Shekhar Sharma, MD (Ayu.)

Azadirachta indica, commonly known as neem, has wide range of medicinal properties. The neem tree  is a tropical evergreen tree  native to Indian sub-continent . It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for more than 4000 years due to its medicinal properties. The Sanskrit name ‘nimba’ comes from the term ‘nimbati swasthyamdadati’ which means ‘to give good health’.Neem is also called ‘arista’ in Sanskrit a word that means ‘complete and imperishable’.Neem is called ‘Sarvaroga nivarini’ meaning ‘the curer of all ailments’.

The Neem tree has been known as the wonder tree for centuries in the Indian subcontinent. It has become important in the global context today because it offers answers to the major concerns facing mankind. Azadirachtin and other active ingredients in the neem seed have insecticidal properties that are effective against a broad spectrum of insects, many mites and nematodes, and even snails and fungi, and do not seem to generate resistance in the pests they affect. Nowadays, neem and its extracts are used in numerous herbal and allopathic medicines. Neem is used in Dermatitis Eczema, Acne, Bacterial, Fungal infections and other skin disorders. It has demonstrated its effectiveness as a powerful antibiotic. Neem also has shown antiviral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. It helps support a strong immune system and is used in cases of inflammatory skin conditions. Traditionally Neem has been used for skin and blood purifying conditions. Neem not only helps in curing diseases, but it also provides us with the strength of fighting diseases by enhancing our immunity. The earliest Sanskrit medical writings refer to the benefits of Neem’s fruits, seeds, oil, leaves, roots and bark. Each has been used in the Indian Ayurvedic and Unani systems of medicines, and is now being used in the manufacture of modern day medicinals, cosmetics, toiletries and pharmaceuticals.The Neem tree has been known as the wonder tree for centuries in the Indian subcontinent. Chemical constituents and properties Neem contains a bitter fixed oil, nimbidin, nimbin, nimbinin and nimbidol, tannin and can be used as  antiinflammatory (nimbidin, sodium nimbidate, gallic acid, catechin, polysachharides). Antiarthritic, hypoglycemic, antipyretic, hypoglycemic, diuretic, anti-gastric  ulcer (nimbidin) , antifungal  (nimbidin, gedunin, cyclic trisulfide) ,antibacterial (nimbidin, nimbolide, mahmoodin, margolone, margolonone, isomargolonone), spermicidal (nimbin, nimbidin). antitumor (polysaccharides) , immunomodulatory (NB-II peptoglycan, gallic acid, epicatechin, catechin) , hepatoprotective (aequeous extract of neem leaf), antioxidant ( neem seed extract ). Neem needs no introduction in today’s world. Neem is known as free tree of India as it is found almost everywhere in India. It is considered as a magic tree, which has properties that not only relieves but also cures from illness. Neem is an herb that has been a great assert to human species since thousands of centuries. Neem is extremely useful to humans and this is the reason it is being worshiped in India and is considered as the place where Gods resides. Neem is especially good for those with skin disorders such as eczema. As a natural eczema remedy, neem when applied on the skin relieves you from itching and the painful symptoms arising from your disorder. You can also take a warm bath with neem leaves in it. In fact, this is a very common custom in India. It is also highly suitable in the instance when you have some minor infections. Acne causing bacteria are killed by neem. It heals wounds and vitiated conditions of kapha, vomiting, skin diseases, excessive thirst, and diabetes. Neem leaves are reported to be beneficial for eye disorders and insect poisons. It treats Vatik disorder. Its fruits are bitter, purgative, antihemorrhoids and anthelmintic.It is claimed that neem provides an answer to many incurable diseases. Traditionally neem products have been used against a wide variety of diseases which include heat-rash, boils, wounds, jaundice, skin disorders, stomach ulcers, chicken pox, etc. “Neem preparations are reportedly efficacious against a variety of skin diseases, septic sores, and infected burns. The leaves, applied in the form of poultices or decoctions, are also recommended for boils, ulcers, and eczema. The oil is used for skin diseases such as indolent ulcers and ringworm. Rural inhabitants in India and Africa regularly use neem twigs as tooth brushes. Neem twigs contain antiseptic ingredients. That explains how these people are able to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Ayurveda describes neem as herbal drug which is used to clean the teeth and maintain dental hygiene. Neem in the form of powder is also used to brush teeth and massage gums. Recent reports focus on antibacterial activities in the mouth, specifically in gum disease and cavities. The current research proved its antifungal properties which control fungi that can cause athlete’s foot, ringworm and candida, the organism that causes yeast infections and thrush. Nimbidin, a component of Neem, has been showed anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritis activity. Nimbiden suppresses the functions of macrophages and neutrophils involved in inflammation.  The process through which free radicals are created, is a normal function of the body but the resulting molecules are unstable and can damage other cells. A series of disorders, including cardiovascular disease, eye health, cataracts and macular degeneration, age-related neuro-degeneration (decline of the brain cells and nervous system) and even cancer occurs due to high levels of free radicals. Neem protects against chemically induced carcinogens and liver damage by boosting antioxidant levels. Recent studies have focused that Neem’s hypoglycemic effect. Immuno stimulating properties of neem is most important benefit. It boosts both the lymphocytic and cell-mediated systems.It helps to protect the liver from damage, which in turn helps to cleanse the blood. Neem leaf minimize, chemically induced liver damage by stabilizing levels of serum marker enzymes and boosting levels of antioxidants, like those found in vitamin C and E and in natural carotenoids, which neutralize free radicals and prevent damage.  Antioxidant compounds in neem help to prevent brain damages, who had suffered a stroke by enhancing lipid peroxidation and increasing ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) in the brain. Another traditional use of neem has been to chew the neem sticks. It is still used to clean teeth in rural parts of India. Antimicrobial properties that help to reduce plaque and gingivitis.People used Neem twigs as tooth brushes for centuries. Neem twigs contain antiseptic ingredients necessary for dental hygiene and prevents tooth decay, periodontal diseases, Infections, tooth decay, bleeding gums and sore gums. Neem has a long history of relieving inflamed joints. Neem not only helps in reducing inflammation but also suppress the pain. It is also useful in Rheumatism.Malaria is quite common in India and throughout the tropics. Neem leaf extracts helps to prevent normal development of the malaria virus. Neem has been highly successfully against harmful fungi, parasites, and viruses. In all areas of tropics, much of the harvested food is lost during storage because of worms, beetles and other infestations. People do not prefer to use chemicals insecticides on stored grains in general and more specifically for food stored for their own consumption. For centuries, Neem oil has provided farmers with an effective remedy against such insects. Neem has been extensively used in Ayurveda, Unani and Homeopathic medicine. Traditionally, many disorders like inflammation, infections, fever, skin diseases, dental disorders and others have been treated with different parts of neem tree such as leaves, flowers, seeds, fruits, roots and bark. Neem leaf exhibits a wide range of pharmacological activities viz., anti-inflammatory, antihyperglycaemic, antiulcer, antimalarial, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, antimutagenic anticarcinogenic and immunomodulatory . Owing to its versatile characteristics neem is rightly called the ‘Village pharmacy’. Medicinal properties of neem help the mankind to prevent and cure various diseases but it should be used for medicinal purpose after consulting a qualified physician.

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