Remember the times when neem leaves were an unmatched remedy for every problem of the body and beyond? Irrespective of the advent of new age products and medicines, neem still holds a strong place in the world of medicine and wellness. Particularly, neem oil, extracted from the very seed (or fruit) of the tropical neem tree, also called as Azadirachta indica or Indian Lilac. The list of benefits of neem oil is not just long but also backed by various studies and research. So let’s take a tour-de-neem oil by the end of which, I assure, this magic potion would have become an inseparable part of your life.
Here’s a peek into the things discussed in this article…
What Is Neem Oil?
Neem oil is a type of vegetable oil extracted from the fruits of the evergreen neem tree. Its botanical name is Azadirachta Indica. Neem trees are predominantly found in the Indian subcontinent. Neem oil comprises two major compounds named Azadirachtin and triterpenoid which gives neem oil its antiseptic, antifungal, antipyretic and antihistamine properties. Based on the method of extraction, Neem oil takes different colors like stark red, green-brown, yellow-brown, golden-yellow and dark-brown.
Neem tree oil, with its strong and pungent aroma, is extremely bitter in taste because of the presence of phytochemicals Azadirachtin and triterpenoid. These two phytochemicals are the major contributors to neem oil’s therapeutic and medicinal value. Other than sterols like campesterol, beta-sitosterol, and stigmasterol, pure neem oil is loaded with fatty acids and alkaloids (1).
The History Of Neem Oil
The history of Neem oil use goes back to ancient times and its medicinal properties are glorified in India for over 4000 years. In Sanskrit, the word for Neem is ‘nimba’ which also means ‘Good Health.’ This medicinal tree is referred in old scriptures as ‘a curing agent for ills and ailments.’ There are many other strong references to Neem as ‘Nature’s Drugstore,’ ‘Live Giving Tree’ and ‘Diving Tree.’ Throughout history, Neem was the symbol of health as every part of this tree was of some or the other use – the bark, seeds, fruits, flowers, leaves, roots, and most importantly, oil. It is believed that people also interacted with Neem trees planted in their gardens.
Is Neem Oil Safe?
Neem oil is non-toxic in nature and is absolutely safe for not just humans but also for plants, mammals, birds and bees. Azadirachtin present in neem oil could be moderately toxic to aquatic animals though (2).
How Is The Oil Processed? (or) How Is Neem Oil Extracted?
Neem oil is pressed or extracted by crushing the seed kernel. The process could be cold pressing or 40 to 50 °C temperature control pressing. Neem oil can also be extricated by solvent extraction of the neem fruit, cake, seed or kernel. As solvent extraction lowers the product quality, cold pressed oil is a preferred mode of neem oil extraction. Solvent extracted neem oil is used in soap manufacturing (3).
The composition of the neem oil is based on the processing method as the proportions and the mix of components vary during extraction.
Benefits Of Neem Oil For Skin
What is neem oil good for? Time and again, medics and doctors have listed the innumerable benefits of neem oil for health, wellness. That’s not all; there is a reason many beauty cosmetics boast of neem based products. Neem oil is loaded with medicinal properties associated with skin care.
1. Smoothes Wrinkles
With its regenerative properties and immune-boosting compounds, neem oil enables the skin to fight pathogens that are present below the skin surface. This keeps the skin smooth and fights wrinkles. Using neem oil for face or including neem powder in face packs soothes the skin thereby reducing the effects of aging (4).
2. Stimulates Collagen
Here’s another addition to benefits of neem oil for skin. Neem stimulates collagen production which slows down the aging process of the skin. (5) Regular usage of neem oil not just smoothens wrinkles and fine lines but also makes your skin look young and supple.
3. Relieves Dry Skin
According to The Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), neem oil is rich in essential fatty acids (EFAs), triglycerides, vitamin E and calcium (6) Vitamin E and EFAs enable neem oil to seep deep into the skin thereby healing cracks caused by dryness.
4. Reduces Eczema
Neem oil is an age old natural remedy for eczema symptoms like itchy, dry skin. Though it soothes the skin, neem oil does not cure the root causes of eczema. These causes could be hereditary or acquired. Regular use of neem oil helps a great deal in treating eczema irritation and red rashes (7).
5. Treats Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a painful skin disease which leaves your skin looking sunburnt. Dryness and scaling are the two leading symptoms associated with Psoriasis. Vitamin E rich Neem oil is incredibly helpful in soothing the itchiness and irritation caused by Psoriasis. Neem, with its antibacterial properties prevents the development of any further skin infections (8).
Skin itching is usually caused by moisture loss in the skin. As neem oil is particularly high in fatty acids and Vitamin E, it penetrates easily into the outer layer of skin repairing the protection barrier thereby slowing the moisture loss. Using neem oil on itchy skin retains moisture and helps in healing dry and damaged skin.
7. All Types Of Dermatitis
Neem has antiseptic properties, which are known for keeping infections at bay. It is loaded with compounds like Nimbidin and Nimbin, which prevents redness and swelling thereby retaining the skin moisture. Neem oil is a tested remedy for all types of dermatitis (9). It is also ideal for acne prone skin and helps combat bacteria that causes pimples and breakouts.
The high amount of fatty acid in neem oil prevents and treats scars left by acne. Neem is also a non- comedogenic agent, which removes skin impurities and tightens the pores.
9. Removes Dryness
The different compounds in Neem oil helps to soothe dryness of skin. It also strengthens the body’s ability to make and release histamine and other irritants. Neem oil is loaded with Vitamin E and fatty acids which is why it easily penetrates the outer layer of the skin, restoring the protective barrier and preventing moisture loss.
10. Fights Acne
The asprin like compound in neem seed oil removes acne causing bacteria from the skin. Also, the fatty acids in neem oil prevent scars caused by acne. That’s not all, it also reduces the redness of skin and brings back the healthy glow to it.
11. Skin Conditioner
Neem seed oil deep moisturizes and repairs skin dryness. This is exactly the reason why neem seed oil is included in medicated dryness repair products. The herbal moisturizing formula of neem oil leads to a well-toned skin preventing it from cracks and freckles.
12. Fungal Infections Of Skin
Neem has antifungal properties that prevent and treat common fungal skin infections like ring worms, athletes foot and nail fungus. The two compounds, namely gedunin and nimbidol, present in neem oil destroy the fungi that cause skin infections. It is proven that neem oil is effective in 14 different cultures of fungi (10).
13. Skin Toner
Neem oil is a perfect skin toner as it restores the moisture of the skin and fights pathogens that are found below the skin surface. Using neem oil as a skin toner will leave the skin young, healthy and smooth.
14. Removes Blackheads
Regular application of diluted neem oil removes blackheads and prevents their re-occurrence. Do not apply pure neem oil directly on face. Add 2-3 drops of oil to water and use the diluted solution to get rid of blackheads.
15. Treats Scabies
Neem oil is extremely helpful in eradicating Scabies and other skin parasites. It suffocates live nymphs on the skin surface thereby treating scabies to the very root. Gently dab neem oil on scabies infestations and leave it on the skin for 15 minutes. Doing this regularly will eliminate mites and reduce itching and inflammation caused due to scabies.
16. Anti-Aging Serum
Neem oil, enriched with fatty acids, vitamin E, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties shield the skin from environmental damage. It also contains carotenoids that accelerate skin’s defense against free radicals which cause aging (11).
17. Neem Oil For Face Application
Neem oil for face benefits is a proven story! Applying neem oil regularly on face pulls out impurities and tightens facial skin pores making the skin look healthy and even-toned.
18. Reduces Hyper-pigmentation
Neem seed oil is an ultimate savior for skin pigmentation. It clears up the skin making it even-toned. Neem oil slows down the production of melanin, the skin coloring agent, which when secreted in higher amounts, leads to pigmentation. Applying neem oil regularly will clear, beautify and rejuvenate the skin thereby reducing skin pigmentation drastically.
19. Ringworm, Warts And Moles, Cold Sores And Herpes
Neem oil has a significant effect on chronic skin conditions like Ringworm, warts & moles, cold sores and herpes. Applying good quality, organic neem oil packed with antifungal properties on affected skin areas will not just soothe the irritation but will also kill the bacteria that are the root-cause of these conditions. Neem oil has been commonly used in the Siddha medicine for the treatment of skin diseases (12).
Urticaria, commonly known as hives appear as patchy red bumps on the skin caused by allergic reactions. Neem has antihistamine and other compounds that help ease Urticaria (13). Applying neem oil on affected area prevents and cures this skin condition.
21. Treat Minor Inflamed Wounds
The list of neem oil uses for skin goes on and on. Ayurvedic medicine recommends applying Neem oil topically to treat minor inflamed wounds thereby reducing inflammation. Neem increases blood flow which aids in creating the collagen fibers that helps the wounds to heal quickly.
You will be amazed once you witness the neem oil benefits for skin.
Benefits Of Neem Oil For Hair
Who doesn’t dream of long, lustrous locks? And what if we tell you that neem oil is an unmatched hair-healer too? There are many neem oil benefits for hair. And many people often wonder, how to use neem oil for hair. The medicinal properties of neem oil will not only help you keep the common hair problems at bay, but will also ensure your hair gets the attention it deserves. And if you are battling any of the hair issues mentioned below, well, neem oil is your best bet! Here are some benefits of neem oil for hair.
Dandruff? Dry scalp? Neem oil is your go-to natural remedy! Many anti-dandruff shampoos use neem oil as a main ingredient because of its medicinal properties. Neem hair oil not only improves your scalp health but also maintains the PH level of the scalp. Healthy scalp means no dandruff!
23. Treats Head Lice
Neem oil is considered to be the safest and the most effective way to get rid of head lice. All you need to do is apply neem oil on your scalp and leave it overnight. The next day when hair is combed with a thin comb, you will notice how neem oil has worked in those lice troubled locks.
24. Improves Hair Texture
Regular application of neem oil will result in healthy scalp and hair. As this oil has no side-effects, it is always a win-win situation no matter what the hair problem is. That’s not all; neem oil leaves your hair untangled and strong, thereby taming them to your desired style. Massage neem oil on scalp few hours prior to hair wash and you will see the difference yourself.
25. Promotes Hair Growth
Neem hair oil is the age-old solution for healthy hair growth. While it strengthens the roots and accelerates growth, it can also be used to counter the effects of hair thinning caused by pollution, stress or medication.
26. Removes Split Ends
When you see your hair with split ends, it’s time to start the neem oil ritual. Split ends could lead to stunted hair growth making hair frizzy and unmanageable. Neem seed oil benefits include moisturizing of hair from root to tip and gentle repair of hair cuticles. A basic hair trimming and regular application of neem oil will help you bid an instant farewell to dreadful split ends.
27. Treats Frizzy Hair
Frizzy hair? No problem. Neem Ka Tel Hai Na! Neem oil is a sought after cure for dull, lifeless and frizzy hair. Neem provides deep conditioning to frizzy hair thereby retaining the shine and strength of your locks. Add a few drops of oil to your shampoo before every wash and the result will be hydrated, smooth and happy hair!
28. Promotes A Healthy Scalp
Still wondering what are the neem oil uses for hair? Well, the beauty of your hair depends on the health of your scalp. Neem oil, with all its remedial properties, treats your scalp thereby enhancing the beauty of your hair. Neem oil not just moisturizes your hair but also works on keeping your scalp healthy (14).
Benefits Of Neem Oil For Internal & External Use
Internal Uses Of Neem Seed Oil
Other than skin and hair, neem oil is a trusted remedy for many internal body ailments like ulcers, cancer and chronic viruses. Here are some health benefits of Neem oil.
29. Gastrointestinal Ailments, Ulcers
Neem oil is considered to be a universal remedy for gastrointestinal problems.
These problems occur due to disturbed pH level in the stomach and intestines. Acidity is the common cause of ulcers in the stomach (15). Advantages of neem oil are simply brilliant! It balances, restores and maintains the proper pH level and heals the ulcers effectively. The analgesic benefit of neem oil relieves pain caused by all kinds of Gastrointestinal issues.
Neem has immune boosting properties. That is the reason some patients affected by cancers, especially breast cancer, consume neem in the form of oil or capsules as a part of the treatment. Medicinal qualities of neem shield the body from the action of antibodies (16) Though effective, neem oil and tablets should be consumed by cancer patients only after consulting the doctor.
Neem oil has been a trusted home remedy to treat serious viruses like chicken pox and small pox. The antibacterial properties of neem not just ensures that the virus is destroyed but also prevents a re-lapse. Neem is a trusted cure for people suffering with herpes and hepatitis B viruses.
32. Gingivitis and Pyorrhea
Gingivitis is a kind of gum inflammation which usually precedes a gum disease called periodontitis. Neem oil is an extremely effective oral remedy for all dental problems. Be it bleeding gums, toothache or foul breath, the antiseptic properties of neem are proven to keep gums and teeth healthy. Many dental care products include neem oil as a major ingredient for this same purpose (17).
With so many neem oil health benefits, who wouldn’t want to try this magic potion?
External Uses Of Neem Seed Oil
33. Antiseptic Properties
Adding to the neem oil benefits, neem seed oil is one of the major ingredients in many products that are used in our day to-day lives. The antiseptic properties of neem add immense value to various products like medicines, beauty and cosmetic products. It is also used in pesticides and natural insect repellents.
34. Making Medicines
The natural medicinal value of neem is the reason it is used in manufacturing medicines that treat ailments like digestive problems, cancer, blood disorder, diabetes and arthritis (18).
35. Making Cosmetics
Neem oil on skin can work wonders. Beauty cosmetics and skin care product manufacturers often include neem oil in their merchandise in the form of essential oil. Neem tree oil uses take a predominant place in aromatherapy products to reduce stress and restore mental wellness.
36. Making Pesticides, Fungicides And Germicides
This versatile oil takes an important place in the production of pesticides, fungicide and germicide thereby being a beneficial component for agricultural purposes. The active ingredients in neem seed oil not just interrupts the life cycle of insects but also constrains their growth.
37. Making Pet Care Products
Neem oil is used in many pet care products to prevent them from dangerous skin diseases. It can be sprayed in the areas where pets spend maximum time in order to prevent them from contracting infections and skin problems (19).
38. Mosquito Repellent
Mosquito menace? No problem! Neem seed oil makes a perfect natural mosquito repellent which is absolutely safe to use. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, the researchers mixed 2% neem seed oil to a bowl of coconut oil and applied it to the exposed body parts of volunteers. The result: This mixture provided complete protection for approximately 12 hours from the bites of all anopheline species (20). Neem oil is a widely used remedy for protection from Malaria.
39. Prevents Mosquito Breeding
Neem oil restricts the grounds for mosquito breeding by repelling them with its odor and effect. Adding neem oil to water containers in mosquito-infested areas discourage mosquitoes from breeding in that area.
40. Using Neem Oil on Cuts & Bruises
Minor cuts and wounds? Neem oil is your instant home remedy! The healing properties of neem reduce inflammation and soothe small cuts and bruises. Also, it keeps any further infection at bay.
41. Serves as a Natural Insecticide
Use neem oil, an exceptional repellent, for common garden bugs like locust’s beetles, mites, nematodes and caterpillars. Not just garden bugs! Neem oil is a perfect repellent for termites, ants and cockroaches too. Home and garden, both taken care!
42. Neem Seed Oil As A Contraceptive
It is proven that neem has an ability to prevent pregnancy in women. It works both before and after sex though, as a preventative, some purified extracts only worked before sex (21). From ancient times, Neem oil is considered as an effective form of birth control. When tested on human sperm, 1000 mg neem extract (sodium nimbidinate) killed all sperms in 5 minutes. Try at your own risk though!
Neem Oil Recipes
Neem Oil Wrinkle Cream With Lavender
Time to say goodbye to wrinkles and bring back the flawless smooth skin with this Neem oil wrinkle cream with lavender. Wondering how to use neem oil in this preparation? Well, here’s the recipe and mind you, the effects are unbelievable!
What you need
- 30 ml of pure neem oil
- 200 ml of jojoba oil
- 4–5 drops pure lavender oil
- Put all ingredients in a container or a bottle.
- Mix together and shake. Ensure all ingredients blend well into each other.
- Apply to your skin as a moisturizer 2-3 times a day.
Make sure you always dilute pure neem oil before using it directly on the skin. Do a patch test before applying the moisturizer on your face. In case of a skin reaction or irritation, wash your face and discontinue use.
How To Select And Store Neem Oil
Neem oil should be stored in a dark and cool place or a refrigerator. It is better to use the oil within two years of its manufacturing date. While selecting a bottle of neem oil, make sure you look at the packaging date. Opt for a cold pressed organic neem oil. While buying neem oil see to it that the bottle packaging is done well. Do not forget to label your neem oil bottle appropriately before storing it. Though neem oil condenses at low temperatures, it can be brought back to a liquid form by placing the neem oil container in warm water. Make sure the water is not too hot. Heat destroys azadirachtin, the most valuable component of neem oil.
Things To Remember When Buying Neem Oil
While buying a bottle of neem oil, make sure you have read the label carefully, especially the ingredient list and packaging date. There are many refined pre-mixed versions that you might want to avoid. The oil you are buying should be yellow, cloudy, and should have a pungent odor like garlic and sulfur. Opt for 100 percent organic neem oil. This makes sure that it is not contaminated with solvents or petrochemicals which are often used in the purification process.
Off the counter, oil sprays contain refined neem oil extract and their odor is subtle as compared to pure neem oil. Making your own oil is a more efficient and cost effective option. Avoid buying neem oil extract as it has a lower concentration of azadirachtin which is the main component in insect repellents.
Interesting Facts About Neem Oil
- The Botanical Name of Neem is Azadirachta indica. It belongs to the Mahogany Family.
- Neem oil, also known as Margosa oil is a natural pesticide present in seeds of neem
- Azadirachtin, present in neem oil is responsible for repelling pests. If this component is extracted from neem oil, what remains is called clarified hydrophobic neem oil.
- Neem oil can be formulatedinto neem dust, neem granules, wettable powders and emulsifiable concentrates (22).
- There are countries where neem oil is used on catsfor flea control (23).
- Neem oil is moderately toxic to fish and other underwater organisms.
What Is Neem Oil Used For?
Neem oil is multipurpose in nature because of its antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.
Uses of neem oil are as follows
1. Handy Antiseptic
Mix neem oil with olive oil and apply on minor cuts and wounds.
2. Home Hygiene
Add a few drops of neem oil to an oil diffuser to ward off mosquitoes.
3. Pest Control
Sprinkling neem oil in the house will keep mosquitos and other bugs at bay. Save on the expensive pesticides and just keep neem oil soaked cotton balls in the mosquito infested areas.
4. Daily Skin Rituals
Is neem oil good for skin? Yes! Neem oil contains carotenoids and antioxidants that slow aging and clears skin by fighting against bacteria.
5. Daily Hair Rituals
Neem oil is a trusted home remedy for scalp and hair related issues. Adding a few drops of neem oil to your shampoo is a safe and effective way to get rid of hair lice.
6. Dengue Prevention
Spraying neem oil in mosquito infested areas can stop mosquito breeding. Which is a perfect way to keep dengue causing mosquitoes away
7. Dental Ritual
Add neem oil in your dental ritual to keep tooth and gum related problems away. Neem oil is an effective remedy to combat gum diseases, dental infections and foul breath odor.
8. Home Cleaning
Spraying neem oil on mats and adding it to carpet shampoos can prevent dust mites
9. Skin Breakouts
Neem oil instantly soothes skin irritation, redness and inflammation resulting from eczema and other skin infections.
10. Skin Infections In Animals
Adding neem oil to the pet shampoo keeps lice, bugs and fleas away from the animals. It also keeps skin infections in animals at bay.
- Though there is no proven amount of safe dosage, 2-5% of neem oil should be blended with coconut oil before applying on skin.
- Pure neem oil should never be applied directly to the skin.
- Neem oil should be avoided in case of allergy or hypersensitivity after first use.
- There is no proven safe dose of neem oil use for children. It should be used on children only after consulting a doctor.
- Neem oil should be cautiously used with hypotensive agents.
Side Effects of Neem Oil
The appropriate dosage of neem is based on a person’s health, age and medical condition. It is advisable to consult your doctor before using neem oil, particularly in case of children and pregnant women. Though there are no proven side effects, it is always better to do a patch test before applying neem oil on face or body. It is important to read labels and directions before using neem oil based products. If neem oil is being consumed for medical purposes, it is best to talk to your doctor regarding the potential risks and benefits.
Neem seed oil could be slightly toxic for fishes and underwater animals.
A lot of research and studies have concluded that the neem tree oil benefits are magical—Be it skin, hair, chronic or viral diseases, stress, pet care, valuable agricultural pesticides or overall wellness. The list of benefits just doesn’t seem to end! This is a gentle reminder of the old yet wise phrase: Old is gold! No matter what your problem is, the neem team will always come to your rescue. Stay healthy, stay happy.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Does neem oil cause the leaves to drop from roses?
Neem oil is used to prevent black spot fungal disease in rose plants. It does not cause the leaves to drop from roses. Though it is important to ensure that the plants receive ample sunlight after neem oil is sprayed on the flowers.
hat are the healing properties of Neem Oil?
Neem oil has antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. It works exceptionally to treat skin related ailments like rashes and infections. Neem oil also works as mosquito and insect repellent.
Will neem oil kill ants?
There are mixed opinions about neem oil being effective to kill ants. Though ants are repelled by neem oil, it is not yet proven that they are killed by the same.
There are some things that become an inseparable part of life and come to your rescue no matter what the problem is. One such magic potion is the Neem seed oil. Now that you know what a wonderful product this is, go make the most of it.