Neem Tree and Neem Tree Oil
The Neem Tree Information about Neem Oil
The National Institutes of Health, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and a sister agency to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, has created a database of national and international research journals called MedLine. It includes more than 150 documents on neem. To search for neem and a specific question, type neem AND disorder, i.e., neem AND parasites or neem AND antiviral. MDChoice.com is a privately held company founded by academic physicians and backed by private venture capital. They have developed a unique, patent-pending technology that provides specific, content-focused information from MedLine at the click of a mouse button.
Neem-The Ultimate Herb Literature from Pure Gar Neem: A Tree For Solving Global Problems. Conrick, John. National Academy Press.
For centuries, the people of India have utilized the Neem tree (Azadirachta indica) for its variety of medicinal uses. The twigs, leaves, and bark of the Neem tree provide so many benefits that the Indian equivalent to the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) believes that "anything from Neem has to be good," according to R.O. Larson, a contributor to the book, Neem, A Tree For Solving Global Problems.
Perhaps Neem's most touted advantage is the effect it has upon the skin. Preparations from the leaves or oils of the tree are used as general antiseptics, according to a report of The National Research Council's Ad Hoc Panel of the Board on Science and Technology for International Development. Due to Neem's antibacterial properties, it is effective in fighting most epidermal dysfunction. Ancient ayurvedic practitioners believed high sugar levels in the body caused skin disease; Neem's bitter quality was said to counteract the sweetness.
Traditionally, Indians bathed in Neem leaves steeped in hot water. Since there has never been a report of the topical application of Neem causing an adverse side effect, this is a common procedure to help skin ailments or allergic reactions.
In India and Africa, people use the twigs of the Neem tree as toothbrushes. This practice has apparently influenced current dental products that incorporate Neem bark extracts in toothpaste and mouthwashes.
Several studies of Neem extracts in suppressing malaria have been conducted, all supporting its use in treatment. Scientists at India's Defense Institute of Physiology and Allied Science believe that they have found a Neem-oil extract that behaves as a spermicide. More research is being conducted in this area because of Neem's widespread availability in overpopulated countries unable to afford pricier birth control methods.
Even though millions of Neem consumers exist in India alone, the pharmacological effects have rarely been studied under controlled environments. Neem has never been reported to have an adverse effect when applied topically or for dental use.
Though the FDA has not approved Neem extracts as an acceptable compound in medicine, Neem is manufactured into many health and beauty care products from the leaves, oils, and extracts of the tree. These products include bath powders, soaps and shampoos.
Stix, Gary: "The Village Pharmacy,"Scientific American, page 132 of the May '92 issue. A review of the National Research Council report entitled, "Neem: A Tree For Solving Global Problems."
While the Neem tree has been used intensely for centuries wherever it grows, Western interest did not register until the 1920's. Real interest was peaked in 1959 when a German entomologist, Heinrich Schmutterer, noticed that Neem trees were not consumed by locusts during a plague in the Sudan; characteristically, all other vegetation was stripped to the ground. After Schmutterer's report, research on the Neem tree and its uses became a little industry of its own.
Neem is now gaining acceptance in the West. Neem extracts have been found to be extremely effective against more than 200 arthropod species including, but not limited to, the Mediterranean fruit fly, house flies, fleas, head lice, the Gypsy moth, the Colorado potato beetle, the boll weevil, and cockroaches. This list is a veritable Who's Who of super-resistant insects. As the National Research Council (NRC) points out, Neem has a complex chemical makeup, more than twenty compounds identified to date, which makes developed resistance unlikely. This smacks of 20/20 hindsight since no problem insects in the Orient, where the Neem tree has grown for thousands of years, are known to have developed resistance to it. Neem accomplishes this without committing "ecocide." Mr. Stix points out that birds and bats regularly eat the Neem fruits with no ill effects. They must see the killed insects as a wonderful windfall! He adds that Neem leaves are routinely added to grain stores in India to keep weevils out, with no effect to the grain or the people who eat it.
Medical benefits are vastly claimed but poorly researched. Neem paste is applied to the skins of victims of chicken pox (stops the itching among other benefits) and warts. Several reports document Neem's effect on oral bacteria.
Quietly balancing this very conservative approach is the legendary guru of miracle plants, Noel D. Vietmeyer. Dr. Vietmeyer is a program officer with, and spent 20 years on the Board of Science and Technology for International Development for the NRC. He has "shepherded" the debuts of such plant giants as the jojoba, and amaranth. In the foreword to the NRC's Neem report he insists: "I've never come across a plant with the potential the Neem has." Enough said.
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