Essential Facts about Neem Leaf
- Botanical: Azadirachta indica
- Sanskrit: Arishta
- Hindi: Neem
- Other names: Nimtree, Indian lilac
- Rasa (taste): Tikta (bitter), Kashaya (astringent)
- Guna (qualities): Laghu (easy to digest), Rooksha (dry)
- Virya (action): Sheet (cooling)
- Vipaka (post-digestive effects): Katu (converts to pungency after digestion)
- Dosha (constitution): Balancing effect on Pitta and Kapha doshas.
Neem leaf is native to countries within the overall Indian subcontinental region, including Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, and India. Additionally, some Iranian islands are home to the neem tree, from which the leaves are derived.
Neem trees tend to grow very tall. It’s not uncommon for them to reach 20 meters in height. In some instances, they grow even taller, reaching 30 meters. Although the neem tree is technically evergreen, it tends to shed its leaves when periods of heavy drought strike.
The leaves are not the only part of the tree used in Ayurvedic medicine. Its bark, fruit, and flowers may also be used, although all the parts serve different purposes. They would not traditionally be considered substitutes for each other.
Neem leaves are high in nutritious proteins, as well as vitamin C, calcium, carotene, and carbohydrates.
Medicinal Uses of Neem Leaf
Neem, like many Ayurvedic ingredients, doesn’t offer just one health benefit. It can improve health in a variety of ways. The following uses, however, are those most typically associated with neem leaves’ role in Ayurveda:
Improving Skin Conditions
The leaves of the neem tree are often combined with other ingredients to create lotions and creams. That’s because they have a very soothing effect on the skin. In general, they can treat a range of skin conditions. They can also assist in the treatment of wounds, promoting faster healing.
Purifying the Blood
To some degree, the effects of the leaves on skin conditions are associated with their effects on the blood. Neem leaves can remove toxins from the blood, thereby purifying it and improving skin health as a result.
The leaves of the neem tree can have a regulating effect on blood glucose levels. Thus, they’re often used in the treatment of diabetes. Additionally, because they improve skin health, the leaves may also help in the treatment of related conditions, such as diabetic carbuncles.
While this may not technically qualify as a medicinal usage, it’s worth noting that applying the extract of neem leaf to the skin has been shown to repel various insects. This makes it a good alternative to chemical-based bug sprays.
Usage and Dosage of Neem Leaf
Neem leaves may be applied directly to the skin when treating skin conditions. It can also be consumed, but you should consult with an Ayurvedic expert before doing so.
Reviewed by Dr. Jayant Lokhande, MD (Botanical Drugs), MBA (Biotechnology)