Thursday, June 19, 2008

Looking at Neem - The Star

Ancient remedy for healthy skin in the new millennium.

THE ancients, as well as modern science, acknowledge neem, also known as nimba or margosa, as a powerful healing herb with diverse applications.

Described in Ayurvedic texts as sarva roga nivarini – that which keeps all diseases at bay, or arishtha – reliever of disease – neem has been used in the Ayurvedic tradition for thousands of years to maintain health.

The roots, bark, gum, leaves, fruit, seed kernels and seed oil are all used in therapeutic preparations for both internal and topical use.

Neem and skin diseases

This remarkable tree has over 135 biological compounds – making it effective for a wide range of ailments. The neem leaf is renowned for having an almost magical effect on the skin. It works as an antifungal, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.

A neem sapling ... The roots, bark, gum, leaves, fruit, seed kernels and seed oil of neem are all used in therapeutic preparations for both internal and topical use.

Like the leaves, the oil (obtained by crushing neem seeds) is used for skin problems.

Neem preparations are reportedly efficacious against a variety of skin diseases, septic sores, and infected burns. Neem is toxic to several fungi that attack humans, including the causes of athlete’s foot and ringworm. It ca be used against candida, which cause yeast infections and thrush.

Experiments with smallpox, chicken pox, and fowl pox show that although neem does not cure these diseases, it is effective for purposes of prevention.

According to a report from the National Research Council’s Ad Hoc Panel of the Board on Science and Technology for International Development, neem preparations from the leaves or oils can be used as general antiseptics. Because neem contains antibacterial properties, it is highly effective in treating epidermal conditions such as acne, psoriasis and eczema and other persistent skin problems.

It is also used for treating septic sores, infected burns, scrofula, indolent ulcers and ringworm.

Even many medical practitioners believe that smallpox, chicken pox and warts can be treated with a paste of neem leaves – usually rubbed directly on the infected skin.

Stubborn warts can be cleared up when a high-quality neem product is used. Unlike synthetic chemicals that often produce side effects such as rashes, allergic reactions, or redness, neem doesn’t seem to have any of these side-effects.

Early Ayurvedic practitioners believed high sugar levels in the body caused skin disease. Neem’s bitter quality was considered to counteract the sweetness.

Indians historically bathed in neem leaves steeped in hot water. This is still a common procedure for curing skin ailments or allergic reactions.

Neem oil can help with the symptoms of psoriasis. The oil moisturises and protects the skin while healing the lesions, scaling and irritation.

Experiments have shown that patients with psoriasis who have taken neem leaf orally, combined with trpical treatment with neem extracts and neem seed oil, achieve results at least as positive as those who use coal tar and cortisone, the more traditional treatments.

Coal tar products are messy and smelly and cortisone can thin the skin when used repeatedly. Neem has neither side effect.

It can be used for extended periods of time without any side effects, is easy to apply and is relatively inexpensive.

This article is courtesy of Pharmaniaga. For more information, e-mail The information provided is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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