Herb of the week: Neem

The neem tree (azadirachta indica) is native to India and has antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, and antiviral properties. The leaves of the neem tree are used to make teas, infusions, and supplements, while the whole nuts of the tree are cold pressed to make a nourishing oil. Neem can be used both externally and internally to promote the health of skin, hair, and nails.

The Benefits of the Neem Leaf
Taken internally as a tea, infusion, or supplement, neem leaves can improve the body’s immune system, acting as a natural detox. Neem leaves can also improve blood circulation, liver and digestive function (Ehow). This can be helpful for people who struggle with acne, as taking neem leaf supplements can improve skin.

The Benefits of Neem Oil
Due to its antiseptic properties, neem oil can be used to treat scalp aliments like dandruff. Neem oil should be diluted with a carrier oil and massaged into the scalp regularly to improve blood circulation and to slow hair loss (Ehow).

Since neem is also high in Vitamin E, applying neem oil to the skin can produce visible results. Neem oil can aid in healing cracked and dry skin as well as yellowing and brittle nails. What’s more, due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, applying neem oil topically can help in preventing acne.

How to Use Neem Leaf & Neem Oil

  • Neem should NOT be used by women who are pregnant 
  • Neem oil should always be diluted with a carrier oil (olive oil, coconut oil, etc) or butter, like shea butter before using topically.
  • Neem oil is for external use only, NOT for consumption.
  • Neem leaf can be consumed as a supplement or a tea. Always consult your doctor before trying new supplements.

Neem leaf is a bitter herb, so be sure to buy a commercially prepared tea in which the leaf is mixed with other herbs for a better taste.
Neem oil can have a strong smell that may be off-putting to some people. Dilute your neem oil in a carrier oil and add 6-10 drops of a strong-smelling essential oil like rosemary or lavender to help with the smell.

Source: Jones, Marlene. The Complete Guide to Creating Oils, Soaps, Creams, and Herbal Gels for Your Mind and Body: 101 Natural Body Care Recipes. Ocala, Fla: Atlantic Pub. Group, 2011. Print.

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