Botanical Name: Amdirachta Indica
Indian Name: Neem
Origin, Distribution and Composition
Margosa is a very common tree in India. It is a large evergreen dense tree growing some 10 to 10.5 metre tall with a girth of about 2 to 3 metres. The leaves of this tree are divided into numerous leaflets, each resembling a full-grown leaf. The tree has small, white flowers in auxilIary bunches and 1.2 to 1.8 cm long green or yellow fruits with a seed in each.
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The margosa tree has played a key role in Ayurvedic medicine and agriculture since time immemorial. It is indigenous to South Asia, where up to twenty million trees line the roads. The tree occurs naturally in the Deccan peninsula, but is cultivated all over India. It is also common in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Pakistan, Japan and tropical regions of Australia and Africa.
The seeds contain substantial amount of essential oil, known as margosa or neem oil. The bitter constituents separated from this oil are nimbin, nimbinin and nimbidin. The main active constituent of these is nimbi din which contains sulphur. The blossoms yield a glucoside, nimbosterin and a highly pungent essential oil, nimbosterol nimbecetin and fatty acids. The flowers contain a bitter substance and an irritant bitter oil. The fruits contain a bitter principle, baka yanin and the trunk bark yields nimbin, nimbidin, nimbinin and an essential oil.
Healing Power and Curative Properties
Neem tree is generally considered to be an air purifier and a preventive against malarial fever and cholera. All parts of the tree possess medicinal properties. The leaves are useful in relieving flatulence, promoting the removal of catarrhal matter and phlegm from the bronchial tubes, and in increasing secretion and discharge of urine. They also act as an insecticide. The bark is a bitter tonic and a stimulant. It arrests secretions and bleeding besides counter-acting any spasmodic disorders. The root bark has the same properties as the bark of the trunk. The gum discharged by the stem is a stimulant and tonic with a soothing effect on the skin and mucous membranes.
An infusion or a decoction of the fresh leaves is a bitter vegetable tonic and alterative, especially in chronic malarial feveI1 because of its action on the liver. It should be taken in doses of 15 to 60 grams.
The use of 3 grams of the inner bark of neem with 6 grams of jaggery every morning, is very effective in' piles. To cheek! bleeding piles, 3 or 4 neem fruits can be administered with water.
The sap of the neem tree has been found effective in leprosy, when taken in daily doses of 60 grams. Simultaneously the patient's body should be massaged with the sap. This regimen should be continued for 40 days. If the sap is not available, 12 grams of neem leaves and three decigrams of pepper can be ground in water and taken.
The leaves, applied externally, are very useful in skin diseases. They- are especially beneficial in the treatment of boils, chronic ulcers, eruptions of smallpox, syphilitic sores, glandular swellings and wounds. They can be used either as a poultice, decoction or liniment.
An ointment prepared from neem leaves is also very effective in healing ulcers and wounds. This ointment is prepared by frying 50 grams of the leaves in 50 grams of pure ghee and mashing the mixture thoroughly in the same ghee till an ointment consistency is obtained. A paste prepared from the bark by rubbing it in water can also be applied on wounds.
If there is any hair joss or it has ceased to grow, washing with the decoction of neem leaves may help. This will not only stop hair from falling but also help their growth. Frequent application of neem oil also destroys insects in the hair.
Neem is very useful in eye diseases. Application of the juice of neem leaves to the eyes every night is highly effective in the treatment of night blindness. The leaves should be pounded and made into a thin paste with water. The juice€ should then be pressed out through a clean piece of cloth and applied to the eyes with an eye rod.
The juice obtained by rubbing a few neem leaves with a little water and strained through a clean piece of cloth is useful in pain in the eyes caused by conjunctivitis. It is warned, and a few drops put into the ear opposite the ailing eye~ to give relief. Eyes are cured after a few applications.
Steam fomentation with neem decoction provides immediate. comfort in cases of earache. A handful of neem leaves should be boiled in a litre of water and the ear fomented with the steam thus produced. The juice of neem leaves mixed with an equal quantity of pure honey is an effective remedy for any boils in the ear. The juice is to be warmed a little and a few drops fused in the ear. Regular application for a few days will provide relief from such ailments.
In case of an insect fluxing in the ear the juice of neem leaves, with some common salt, is warmed and few drops injected in the ear, kill the insect. Two drops of lukewarm neem oil put in the ear twice a day can cure deafness.
Cleaning the teeth regularly with a neem twig prevents gum diseases. It £inns up loose teeth, relieves toothache, evacuates the bad odour and protects the mouth from various infections.
Post-Parturition Disorders: Neem is very useful at the time of child-birth. Administration of the juice of neem leaves to the woman in labour before childbirth produces nornal contraction in the uterus and prevents possible inflammation. It corrects bowel movements and checks onset of fevers, thereby facilitating the normal delivery. The use of a tepid decoction of neem leaves as a vaginal douche heals any wound caused during delivery and disinfects the vaginal passage.
Neem is a powerful insecticide to kill soil nematodes and other plant parasites and is useful as a mosquito repellant. Neem twig is also used as a toothbrush, and its juice in toothpastes and contraceptives.