Plant-based therapeutics are in demand due to the influence of Eastern medicine. Patients seek out alternative medicinal products to heal. Neem, Azadirachta indica, is a plant whose leaf, bark, seed, fruit, and flower have been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat various diseases, including infections and dental and gastrointestinal problems. In this article, you'll learn the potential health benefits of neem.
Neem (Azadirachta indica) is a versatile medicinal plant with a long history of use in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.
Neem may help improve diabetes symptoms, hypercholesterolemia, skin, and oral health, but further evidence is needed for a comprehensive understanding.
Neem may exhibit antimicrobial properties and can be effective against certain bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections, but caution is needed due to side effects and limited research.
You should consult your doctor before using neem products for therapeutic purposes.
Neem (Azadirachta indica) is a tree used as a medicinal plant in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for centuries. Different parts of the neem tree, such as leaves, bark, seeds, fruit, and flowers, are used to create therapeutic products. Let's learn the potential health benefits of neem.
Neem powder may improve diabetes symptoms
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the US, 96 million adults are struggling with prediabetes, and more than 37 million have diabetes. Many of those people don't even know they have abnormal blood glucose levels.
Diabetes patients with uncontrolled blood glucose levels may experience polydipsia (excessive thirst), polyurea (excessive urination), polyphagia (feeling of extreme hunger), tiredness, sweating, burning feet, itching, and headache.
A study investigated the effects of neem leaf powder extract on diabetes symptoms. Thirty patients were given 2 grams of neem powder supplementation daily for three months. Participants experienced significantly reduced diabetes symptoms of polydipsia, polyphagia, and headache.
Neem extract may improve hypercholesterolemia
Hypercholesterolemia is a medical condition characterized by elevated blood low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and non-HDL cholesterol.
LDL cholesterol is commonly called "bad" cholesterol because it is associated with the buildup of fat in the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis, which increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
HDL cholesterol is commonly called "good" cholesterol. Non-HDL cholesterol is considered a comprehensive measure of atherogenic cholesterol particles in the blood.
Abnormally elevated LDL levels and decreased HDL levels can cause health problems. Therefore, maintaining healthy blood lipid levels is important for cardiovascular health.
Animal studies have investigated neem's effects on blood lipid levels. Several rat studies showed that neem may improve blood total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides. However, human studies are scarce; therefore, studies showing neem's short and long-term effects on human lipid profiles are needed.
Neem may show antimicrobial effects
Neem has been shown to have antimicrobial effects, particularly against bacterial pathogens, which is becoming increasingly significant due to the rise in antibiotic resistance.
Neem has been shown to inhibit bacterial growth and eradicate biofilms. Several compounds present in neem contribute to its antimicrobial properties. Some of the key antimicrobial effects of neem are:
- Antibacterial. Neem contains compounds such as nimbin, nimbidin, and genuine, which exhibit strong antibacterial properties. These compounds can help inhibit the growth and reproduction of bacteria, making neem effective against some bacterial infections, including S. aureus and H. pylori.
- Antiviral. Studies have suggested that neem may have antiviral properties. It may help inhibit the replication of certain viruses and reduce viral load, though more research is needed to understand its potential antiviral effects fully.
- Antiparasitic. Neem's active ingredients can also exhibit antiparasitic effects, helping to eliminate and control various parasites. Neem extracts have demonstrated significant antiplasmodial activities against Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium berghei strains, indicating its potential as a treatment for malaria.
Neem may improve skin health
Traditionally, neem has been used to treat various skin conditions, including acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
Neem extracts have shown anti-inflammatory properties, which can help in reducing skin redness, swelling, and irritation. It may be beneficial for soothing conditions like eczema and psoriasis. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties can aid in wound healing by preventing infections and promoting the regeneration of skin cells.
Neem is known to possess antioxidants that can help eliminate free radicals. This antioxidant activity may help prevent premature aging and maintain the skin's health and appearance.
However, it's important to note that much of the research on neem is still based on in vitro or animal models, and there may be limited human studies. Challenges related to toxicity, contamination, and regulation of neem-based products may affect their safety and efficacy.
Neem may improve oral health
Poor oral hygiene causes dental plaque and problems. Preventive dentistry is as important as treatments for present dental diseases. It can save patients from pain, loss of time and money.
Neem extract's antimicrobial properties can inhibit the growth of caries-causing organisms. Some oral hygiene products contain neem. Neem contains active ingredients called azadirachtin, nimbidin, and nimbinin, which have been shown to eliminate oral bacteria.
Consumption of neem products can cause side effects, including vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, nephrotoxicity, and hepatotoxicity.
It is essential to recognize that neem is not extensively studied across all its potential applications. While research highlights its antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, much of the evidence is based on in vitro or animal models.
Considering these uncertainties, it is strongly advised that individuals consult their healthcare professionals before using neem or neem-based products for therapeutic purposes.
- Indian Journal of Dermatology. Neem in Dermatology: Shedding Light on the Traditional Panacea.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes Fast Facts.
- Journal of Functional Foods. An overview of Neem (Azadirachta indica) and its potential impact on health.
- Natural Oral Care in Dental Therapy. Azadirachta indica (Neem)- An Ancient Indian Boon to the Contemporary World of Dentistry.
- Studies on Ethno-Medicine. Effect of Supplementation of Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) and Neem (Azadirachta indica) Leaf Powder on Diabetic Symptoms, Anthropometric Parameters and Blood Pressure of Non Insulin Dependent Male Diabetics.
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- Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences. The protective effect of Azadirachta indica (neem) against metabolic syndrome: A review.