he neem plant is a fast growing and long living tree, native to Burma in India.

From there the neem tree has spread and is now grown all over the world.
In India the neem medicinal plant is highly regarded because of its many uses and
benefits.

Photo by IGoSplat via Flickr.com
However, the rest of the world is still unfamiliar with it. Unfortunately.
Neem is a fascinating and versatile plant and using neem has many benefits.
All parts of the neem tree are useful, and on this page I tell you how and why.
(Were you looking for growing information? That's here: growing neem
plants and how to grow neem as a house plant.)
Using The Different Parts Of The Neem Plant
The most widely used parts of the neem tree are the seed kernels, the leaves and
the bark:
Neem Seeds

Photo by Dinesh Valke via Flickr.com
The fruit of the neem plant looks a lot like an olive. The flesh surrounds a seed that
contains one or several kernels.
Neem oil, the most popular neem plant product, is made by pressing the neem
seed kernels.
The kernels can contain as much as 50% oil.
In the western world the seed oil is mostly known and valued as a safe and
effective insecticide. Neem oil is very popular with organic gardeners.
It is also used as a natural insect repellent, a safe and more efficient alternative to
the harmful DEET.
Neem seed oil is also an ingredient in many skin care products. In India most of the
neem oil is used in neem soap, but there are also neem shampoos, lotions, creams
etc.
Besides that the oil is valued for its huge range of medicinal uses. The seed kernels
contain the highest concentration of active substances in the neem plant. Pressing
them for oil is one way to get at them, but you can also make various extracts from
the seeds.
A warning: the seed oil can be toxic and should not be taken internally!
You can read more about neem oil and its uses and benefits here.
Neem Leaves

Photo by Yeoh Tsv ia Flickr.com
The leaves of the neem plant are the most versatile and most easily available
resource.
They do contain the same active ingredients as the seeds, just in much lower
concentration.
Leaves are available all year round, since the neem plant is evergreen. (Seeds are
obviously only available once a year).
It's easy to make your own neem home remediesfrom leaves.
Leaf pastes and extracts are used in skin care products, hair oils, in neem
toothpastes and mouth washs, and they also have lots of medicinal uses.
Many herbalists recommend chewing the leaves, taking capsules of dried leaf, or
drinking the bitter tea. The leaves cleanse the blood, help the gastrointestinal
system (ulcers!), support the liver, and strengthen the immune system, to name just
some of the most popular benefits.
Although the leaves of the neem tree have been used this way for thousands of
years in India, I recommend you are careful when taking them internally. Neem is a
very powerful herb. It's best to ask a qualified herbalist first, and to not take it
internally over long periods.
However, the topical use of neem leaf extracts and leaf paste is safe. Skin care and
the treatment of skin disorders is where the neem plant really shines.
 It is extremely effective in eliminating bacterial and fungal infections or parasites,
 its antiviral activity can treat warts and cold sores,
 it soothes inflammation and reduces redness,
 it moisturizes the skin and keeps it supple,
 it can even lighten scars and pigmentation.
Examples of such uses are scabies and acne treatment.
Neem Bark
The bark of the neem tree is not used as much as the seeds or leaves, for
obvious reasons. There is not as much of it, it does not regenerate as quickly, and it
is slightly more difficult to use. Because of its dry and hard nature the ingredients are
more difficult to extract.
However, in one medicinal field the bark is the recommended plant part to use.
That field is dental care. The bark contains a higher concentration of active
ingredients than the leaves, and is especially high in ingredients with antiseptic and
anti-inflammatory action. Neem bark is highly effective when treating gingivitis (gum
disease).
Uses Of Other Neem Plant Parts
Here are some uses of the neem tree that receive less attention:
Neem Twigs
Chewing young, supple branches, and then using them as a toothbrush, prevents
cavities and gum disease. Indian villagers have used this method for centuries.
(Though in modern India neem toothpaste, mouthwashs, and bark powders are the
preferred method.)
Neem Cake
Neem cake is a strange name for the pulp that is left after extracting neem seed oil
from kernels. It is indeed edible, at least for animals, and is sometimes used as
fodder. However, the most common and recommended use is as a soil amendment
and fertilizer.
Neem Flowers
The flowers of the neem plant have a lovely, sweet, honey-like smell. It is quite
intense, noticeable from a distance, but never overpowering. Bees love neem
flowers and neem honey is popular. The flower oil is also used in aromatherapy and
has a calming and restorative effect.
Other Interesting Uses Of The Neem Plant
The wood of the neem plant has become an important source of firewood in some
regions of the African continent. The neem plant is particularly valuable as a source
of firewood because if its rapid growth (it can be harvested within five years), and
because it grows so well with very little water in the poorest of soils.
Personally I consider that a very important use of the neem plant. It could have a
huge impact as we try to halt the spread of the desert.
All parts of the neem plant are also very beneficial when used as mulch, as a
compost ingredient or as a soil amendment. Neem can be used to reclaim marginal
soils. It can bring acid soils back to neutral, the deep tap root can break through
hard layers, mine the subsoil for nutrients and bring them to the surface. Growing
neem trees improves the water holding capacity and nutrient level of soils.
Again, this is a very promising use of the neem plant in my eyes. It could make a
huge difference, not only in third world countries, but also on our abused agricultural
soils. However, there is not as much money to be made as there is in the natural
health industry, so unfortunately you don't hear much about it...
The neem tree is one of the most versatile of India’s plants. Valued for centuries throughout tropical
Asia for its multitude of medicinal and other uses, it has recently attracted attention in the United
States as an effective botanical insecticide.
The umbrella-shaped neem, a member of the mahogany family (Meliaceae), grows to about 50 feet
tall. It is generally evergreen, though in some areas it may be briefly deciduous. Its foot-long leaves
are divided into 8 to 18 toothed leaflets which measure 1 to 4 inches long by 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches
wide. Fragrant white flowers about 1/2 inch broad in branching groups crowd in the leaf axils. The
thin-fleshed, egg-shaped yellow fruits measure about 3/4 inch long and contain a single seed.
The common name neem is derived from nimba, the Sanskrit word for this tree. Botanists know it
as Azadirachta indica, the generic name coming from Persian words meaning “free” or “noble tree”
and the species name being Latin for “Indian”.
Neem is native to India and much of tropical Asia, and is widely cultivated in the tropics and
subtropics, particularly in arid regions. It has been introduced in much of Africa, and it is grown as a
shade tree in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia. It is planted as a street tree in Haiti and is
also cultivated in Guatemala, Cuba, and Nicaragua. It grows in Hawaii and Florida but rarely flowers
in the latter state. In areas where temperatures dip below freezing, neem must be grown in a
greenhouse or in pots which can be brought indoors during cold weather.
The neem tree thrives in most soils, even saline and alkaline ones, but it does better on dry, poor,
rocky soils than on wet ground. The roots can penetrate a hard clay pan, which tends to increase
soil fertility and helps to neutralize acidic soils.
Uses
Is there a part of the neem tree that hasn’t been found useful? The wood, durable and resistant to
insect attacks, has been used for everything from furniture to boat oars, from agricultural implements
to drums and carved images. Like its relative mahogany, it takes on a good polish.
The young, tender branches have been widely used in India and other countries as “chewing sticks”
to keep the teeth and gums clean and healthy. Commercial toothpastes containing neem extracts
are now available in India, Europe, and the United States. Limited clinical trials have shown neem
toothpaste to be a potential treatment for gingivitis. Neem branches are also placed in stored grain to
repel insects.
The bitter leaves and flowers are eaten as a potherb, and the fruit is also edible. In Indian folk
medicine, the leaves are prescribed for many ailments, including intestinal parasites, swollen glands,
bruises, sprains, and malaria. Leaf extracts have been shown to have antiviral activity and delay
blood clotting (confirming their efficacy as traditional snakebite treatments), and the leaf essential oil
has strong antibacterial and antifungal activity. Research on neem’s potential against malaria is now
under way in Africa.


Read more: http://www.motherearthliving.com/plant-profile/versatile-neem.aspx#ixzz39uvQTeLQ

Neem (Azadirachta indica) is a tree in the mahogany family Meliaceae. It is native
to India, Myanmar, Bangladesh,Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Pakistan. It grows
in tropical and semi-tropical regions. Neem is known by many different names,
including Nimm (Punjabi), Arya Veppu (Malayalam), Azad Dirakht (Persian), Nimba
(Sanskrit and Marathi), DogonYaro (in some Nigerian languages), Margosa, Neeb
(Arabic), Nimtree, Vepu, Vempu, Vepa (Telugu), Bevu (Kannada), Kohomba
(Sinhala), Vembu (Tamil), Tamar (Burmese), sầu đâu, xoan Ấn Độ (Vietnamese),
Paraiso (Spanish), and Indian Lilac (English). In East Africa it is also known
as Muarubaini (Swahili), which means the tree of the 40, as it is said to treat 40
different diseases.
Neem is a fast-growing tree that can reach up to 15–20 m (about 50–65 feet) tall,
and sometimes even to 35–40 m (115–131 feet). It is evergreen, but in
serious drought it may lose most or nearly all of its leaves. The branches are spread
far apart.
Uses[change | change source]
Products made from neem have been used in India for over two millennia for their
medicinal properties: they are said to be
antifungal, antidiabetic, antibacterial, antiviral, contraceptive and sedative. Neem
products are also used in selectively controlling pests in plants. Neem is considered
a large part of Ayurvedic medicine.
 All parts of neem are used for preparing many different medicines, especially for
skin disease.
 Part of the Neem tree can be used as a spermicide .
 Neem oil is used for preparing cosmetics (soap and shampoo, as well
as lotions and others), and is useful for skin care such as acne treatment. Neem
oil has been used effectively as a mosquito repellent.
 Neem is useful for damaging over 500 types of insects, mites, ticks, and
nematodes, by changing the way they grow and act. Neem does not normally kill
pests right away, rather it slows their growth and drives them away. As neem
products are cheap and not poisonous to animals and friendly insects, they are
good for pest control
References[change | change source]
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