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Wonders of Neem
Wonders of Neem

Neem Omnipotent Tree

The Neem tree Azadirachta indica (Syn. Melia azadirachta L. ; Margosa tree; in French – le Margousier) is a tropical evergreen tree native to Indian sub-continent and is also found in other southeast countries.
It’s a common roadside and front yard tree bearing medium to dark green leaflets, small, white and sweet-scented flowers and glabrous olive-like fruits. The oil obtained by crushing the dried kernel has a garlic-like odour, and a bitter taste. The neem tree is noted for its drought resistance. Normally it thrives in areas with sub-arid to sub-humid conditions. Neem can grow in many different types of soil, but it thrives best on well drained deep and sandy soils. It is a typical tropical/subtropical tree and exists at annual mean temperatures between 21-32 °C. It can tolerate high to very high temperatures. It does not tolerate temperature below 4 °C.

Evergreen Neem

Nature Neem : A well grown neem tree in India

A well grown neem tree in India

Rediscovery of Neem in Modern World

In search of useful plants, especially the herbals, scientists use to explore the inaccessible hot-spots and the reserves of tropical rain forest. But one such plant, Neem, grows abundantly in the front yards and all along the road side throughout south Asia and Africa. This familiarity of neem should have hidden its real wonders until a few scientists took a closer look at this ancient tree of miracles. A series of research is now going on worldwide to discover the hundreds of active compounds it produces and try to determine the role of each of the chemical compound. In recent days, growing interest in organic agriculture has identified the importance of neem. That’s why most of the research studies were oriented in agriculture field.
Beautiful neem tree
Leave from naturel neem tree
Fruit of neem in wonderful tree
Seed from neem

Neem in Ancient History

Indian Ayurvedic texts have described the Neem tree by associating its remarkable healing properties from as far back as 5000 BC. Its leaves were first founded at the excavation of Mohanjo-Daro in the era of Australoid and Dravidian (2000 BC).

Ayurvedic texts in Sanskrit describes neem as ‘Sarva roga nivarini’ – (the universal healer or curer of all ailments), ‘Arishtha’ (perfect, complete and imperishable) and ‘Nimba’ from the term ‘Nimbati Syasthyamdadati’ which means ‘to give good health’. Even today, rural Indians refer neem as their ‘village pharmacy”. It’s a tree of unbelievable wonders that it is deeply imbued with spiritual meaning. Hindu mythology attributes its curative properties to the fact that a few drops of Amrita (the elixir of immortality, sacred nectar) was dropped or sprinkled by the celestial committee which gave rise to neem tree. There are many stories muttered in the past of Ancient India history that this tree should be of divine origin. A lot of records are available in the books that were accepted as the basis of the Indian system of natural treatment. Interesting..? Please refer to this page if you want them to know them in detail.

Nimba the village pharmacy of neem products

Nimba

The village Pharmacy !

The Azadirachtins

Neem is a bio-chemical factory that contains several thousands of chemical constituents that are attributable to its miracles. Of them, the terpenoids are of special importance. More than 70 terpenoids are available in different parts of the neem plants and living tissues.
Recently, a special type of “secretory” cells has been identified to be the site of synthesis and accumulation of these chemicals. These cells are abundant in the kernel and naturally the terpenoids are more concentrated in the seeds. Of all these terpenoids, Azadirachtin, the astringent is the most active and well-studied compound. Several kinds of Azadirachtin (A to K) have been isolated while the most abundant is the Azadirachtin-A. The concentration of Azadirachtin in neem kernels depends on the combination of environmental and genetic factors. The content may go as high as 10 g/kg of seed kernels and a single tree may yield about 2 kg of kernels each year.

Still today, the process of isolating Azadirachtin from the natural sources is too expensive that the scientists have made some attempts to synthesize the molecule. This process has frustrated several chemical labs and its eminent organic chemists. After 22 years of research, certain labs boast to have synthesized the molecule.

Steven Ley, University of Cambridge, UK accepts that it’s by far the hardest molecule they have ever worked on and he ranks Azadirachtin has one of the very toughest syntheses so far reported. But the efficacy and stability of this synthesized molecule in its commercial formulations has been not yet proved. Also synthesizing the whole molecule is more expensive for now at least than isolating the product from the natural sources. This source happened to be the neem which contains several thousand of chemical constituents like Azadirachtin and a number of potent compounds from its root to its spreading crown. In most of the traditional preparations of neem, as a pesticide or as a medicine, a mixture of all these constituents is present and provides the necessary results.

The Azadirachtin molecule from Steven Ley (University of Cambridge)

The Azadirachtin molecule

"The hardest molecule
that I have ever worked on
and the very toughest
syntheses so far reported"

Steven Ley, University of Cambridge

Neem in the history

Even before ancient herbalists discovered the analgesic qualities of the willow tree, from which aspirin is derived, people used branches, fruit and leaves from the neem as home remedies.
A key advantage of using neem, as opposed to some medical treatments and other herbs, is its compliance with the first tenant of the Hippocratic Oath taken by all physicians: "First, cause no harm." Over thousands of years, neem has been used by hundreds of millions of people and no hazards have been documented for normal dosages. Only at very high levels may neem be toxic, something each of us understands can be true of anything taken internally.

Neem and India

Neem and India

Neem in the Indian Vedas

Neem is also called 'Arista' in Sanskrit - A word that means 'perfect, complete and imperishable'.

The Sanskrit name 'Nimba' comes from the term 'Nimbati Syasthyamdadati' which means 'to give good health'. 'Pinchumada' another name of Neem in Sanskrit means the destroyer of leprosy and healer of skin infections.

Its medicinal qualities are outlined in the earliest Sanskrit writings and its uses in Hindu medicine that dates back to very remote times.

The earliest authentic record of the curative properties of Neem and is uses in the indigenous system of medicine in India is found in Kautilya’s "Arthashastra" around 4th century BC. Neem's medicinal properties are listed in the ancient documents 'Carak-Samhita' and 'Susruta-Samhita', the books at the foundation of the Indian system of natural treatment, Ayurveda.

Ayurveda is the ancient Indian system of medicine, which emphasizes a holistic approach to human health and well-being. It is described in the Ayurvedic texts as ‘ sarva roga nivarini ’ (a universal reliever of all illness). Neem has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for more than 4,000 years due to its medicinal properties. Records show that the non-edible Neem oil was perhaps the oldest known medicinal oil.

Almost every part of the Neem tree has been documented for some medicinal use. They are: Tonic and anti-periodic (root bark, stem bark, and young fruit), antiseptic and local stimulant (seed, oil, and leaves), stimulant tonic and stomachic (flowers), demulcent tonic (gum), and refreshing, nutrient, and alternative tonic (toddy).

Neem bark leaves, and fruits have been used in Ayurvedic medicines for a long time and are described in ancient writing of Sushruta.

 

The ‘ Upavanavinod ’, an ancient Sanskrit treatise dealing with forestry and agriculture, cites neem as a cure for ailing soils, plants and livestock. Neem cake, the residue from the seeds after oil extraction increases soil fertility.

The ‘ Brihat Samhita ’ of ‘ Varahamihira ’, dated about 6th century AD, contains a chapter of verses on plant medicines. It recommends that the neem tree be planted near dwellings. Smallpox and chicken pox were cured or staved off with the use of neem leaves.

Unani scholars knew Neem’s properties beneficial to human health and named it as ‘ Shajar-e-Munarak ’, or the blessed tree. Persian scholars called Neem “Azad dirakht-I-Hind,” meaning the noble or free tree of India

Sarva Roga Nivarini

Neem, a universal reliever
of all illness


Neem in Hindu Mythology

Neem is deeply imbued with spiritual meaning. Its curative properties were attributed to the fact that a few drops of heavenly nectar fell upon it. A lot of stories had been muttered in the past of Ancient Indian History consider Neem to be of divine origin. Few are here:

Few drops of Amrita (Ambrosia, the elixir of immortality) was dropped on the Neem trees which was carried by The Garuda (part human and part bird: creature from Hindu Mythology) to the heaven.

In other story, Amrita was sprinkled by ‘ Indira ’ (the celestial kind) on the earth, which gave rise to the neem tree and thereby bestowing upon it numerous of much properties of much use to humans better than those of ‘ Kalpa-vriksha ‘, the wish-fulfilling tree.

In another instance neem tree is related to ‘ Dhanmantri ’ (the Aryan god of medicine). The ancient Hindus believed that planting neem trees ensured a passage to heaven. It was believed that the goddess of smallpox, ‘ Sithala ’, lived in the neem tree.

Amrita was sprinkled by 'Indira'
(the celestial kind)
on the earth,
which gave rise
to the neem tree


Neem and Rural India

A neem tree in the front yard brings a lot of benefits. It gives out more oxygen than other trees. It purifies the polluted air. Even today, rural Indians refer to the neem tree as their village pharmacy because they use it for so many ailments.

Access to its various products has been free or cheap. There are some 14 million neem trees in India and the age-old village techniques for extracting the seed oil and pesticidal emulsions do not require expensive equipment.

Its leaves are tied on the main entrance to remain away from the evil spirits, infact it purified the air from air born viruses. Brides take bath in the water filled with the Neem leaves.

Newly born babies are laid upon the Neem leaves to provide them with the protective aura. The neem tree is also connected with the Sun, in the story of Neembark 'The Sun in the Neem tree'.


Neem Industry in India

Neem is a mature and organized industry in India with a well-laid out system of collection, processing and marketing. In the last couple of years, products made out of Neem are gaining greater acceptance in certified organic farming. In the last 70 years, there has been considerable research upon the properties of neem carried in institutes ranging from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute and the Malaria Research Centre to the Tata Energy Research Institute and the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC).
A number of neem-based commercial products, including pesticides, medicines and cosmetics, have come on the market in recent years, some of them produced in the small-scale sector under the banner of the KVIC, others by medium-sized laboratories.

Neem, still the holy tree for rural Indians

In Andhra Pradesh, south of central India, Neem in Telgu language is known as  ‘ Vepa ’ or the purifier of air.

Mere presence of the Neem tree near human dwellings is believed to materially improve human health and even act as a prophylactic against malarial fever and even cholera.

In Uttar Pradesh in northern India, village surrounded with Neem trees, were frequently cited as proverbially free form fever, when the neighbouring villages without Neem suffered severely (Mitra 1963). Belief in curative properties of Neem in some population in India is so strong that it defies explanation.

In south India, people lay a patient suffering from smallpox, chickenpox, or even syphilis on a bed of Neem leaves and fanned with a Neem branch. The medicinal properties of neem help him to suffer less and regain his health sooner. 

The Khasi and jaintia tribes in northeastern India use Neem leaves for curing diarrhoea and dysentery, while leaves and fruits are used in treating tuberculosis and heart diseases.

Because of such diverse curative properties, Neem is appropriately known as “ The Village Pharmacy ” in rural India and has secured a place in the Indian Pharmacopoeia. The common preparations are the powdered bark, the fresh leaves, a decoction and tincture of powdered bark, and a poultice of Neem leaves.

The bark is said to be astringent, tonic and anti-periodic, while the leaves are said to act as a stimulant application to indolent and ill-conditioned ulcers.

The Rural Pharmacy

Neem, a universal reliever
of all illness

Neem in other countries

Neem’s reputation as a reliever of sickness has travelled to far off countries in tropical Africa where it was introduced a century ago and even Latin America, where it was introduced in the past decade.

In Kenya and neighbouring countries in eastern Africa, Neem in Kiswahili language is known as ‘ Mwarunaini ’ meaning the reliever of 40 human disorders.

In Niger in West Africa the most often usage of Neem oil also is for medicinal purpose. 

Nature Neem all over the world
Nature Neem Wonders of Neem
Wonders of Neem
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