The Bitter Tonic for Health : Azadirachta indica – Neem

Azadirachta indica also known as Neem is known as Bitter Tonic for Health.

A. Juss. (Family: Meliaceae) Hindi name: Neem; Common name: Indian lilac tree

Synonyms in Sanskrit – Arishta, Pichumarda, Pichumanda, sarvatibhadra, Hinguniryasa, yavaneshta, Shukaprya, Neta, Subhadra, Prabhadra, Sutikta

In English, it is called as Margosa tree or Neem tree.

Benefits of Neem as per Ayurveda :
Charaka Samhita –
Kandughna (group of herbs that are useful in relieving itching.)
Tiktaskandha (group of bitter tasting herbs) 

Sushruta Samhita – Aragwadhadi, Guduchyadi and Lakshadi

Properties:
Rasa – Taste – Bitter (tikta) and astringent (kashaya)
Guna – qualities – Light to digest (Laghu), Dry (rooksha)
Vipaka – Undergoes taste conversion into pungency after digestion. – Katu Vipaka
Veerya – Potency – Cold in nature.

Neem uses and qualities

benefit of neem plant1

Generally all parts of neem have following health benefits.
Sheeta – Nimba imparts cooling qualities to the body.
Laghu – undergoes digestion and absorption pretty easily and quickly.
Grahi – helps in absorbing moisture from the intestine. Dries up and cleans up the moisture in wounds and ulcers.
Katu – has pungent taste. It also undergoes pungent taste conversion after digestion.
Tikta – has bitter taste
Agnikrut – improves digestion process
Vatakrut – increases Vata
Ahrudya – not so good for heart.
Shramahara – relieves tiredness
Truthara – relieves excessive thirst. Since it decreases Pitta, it is useful in fever and associated thirst.
Kasahara – Helps to relieve cough. It is very useful in infective respiratory problems. It has anti-microbial properties.
Jwarahara – Useful in fever, due to its potent anti microbial phyto-chemicals.
Aruchihara – Helps to relieve anorexia. Bitter tasting herbs, though very difficult to consume, have this unique property of relieving anorexia.
Krumihara – Actual translation is – relieves worms. Nimba is useful in intestinal worms, infested wounds, and as an anti -microbial agent.
Vranahara – Helps to cleanse and heal wound quickly.
Pitta – Kaphahara – Balances Pitta and Kapha. Note that, though neem has Cold quality, it helps to balance Kapha (which also has cold quality). This is due to its other properties such as Katu vipaka (pungent taste conversion after digestion).
Chardi – hrillasa hara – Helps to relieve nausea and vomiting
Kushtahara – Useful in numerous skin diseases
Mehanut – Useful in diabetes and disorders related to urinary tract.

Neem in Diabetes and associated skin diseases / wound – As explained above, neem helps in diabetes, it helps to lower the blood glucose levels. Neem is also very useful in skin diseases and heals the wound. Hence, it is one of the herbal ingredient in many Ayurvedic medicines used in diabetes. Not only does it help reduce / maintain blood sugar levels, it also helps to heal wounds quickly and relieves skin diseases such as diabetic carbuncles.  A good example for such an Ayurvedic medicine is Pancha Nimba Churna.

Neem powder in bathing water or soap People with repeated skin infections, with pus and redness, and people with repeated abscess problem, it is a good idea to add a spoon of neem powder to a bucket hot water, and use this water for bathing.

Neem leaf benefits:

Neem leaves do have similar qualities as discussed above, but it has some special benefits.
Netrya – It is good for eyes. Helps to relieve infection.
Kruminut – Helps relieve worms and microbes
Pittanut – Balances Pitta
Vishanut – Natural detoxifier.
Vatala – increases Vata.
Katupaka – Punget taste conversion after conversion
Arochaka and Kushtanut – relieves skin diseases and anorexia.

Neem fruit benefits: 

Neem fruit is Bhedana – helps to pass bowels easily
Snidgha – Unctuous, oily
Laghu – light to digest
Ushna – hot in potency
Gulmanut – Relieves bloating
Arshanut – relieves piles (hemorrhoids)
Kriminut – relieves worms and infection
Mehanut – Helps in diabetes.

Other health benefits of Neem as mentioned in other Ayurvedic text books – 
Raktapittanut – Helps to relieve bleeding disorders, because of its coolant nature.
Shothahara – Useful in inflammatory conditions and skin conditions with redness and pus.
Twig of neem is especially beneficial in respiratory problems such as bronchitis, cough and cold.
Neem flower is good for eyes
Oil extracted from neem fruit is pungent, has piercing quality, hot in potency, useful in skin diseases and headache. (Sushruta)

Different ways to use neem
Lepa –
 Neem powder (mixed with other herbs or alone), can be made into paste with water or honey, to apply over the skin or wound in the form of paste.  

Ahara – Neem can be used as part of food or as oral medication.

Snana – Neem powder, added to hot water can be used to take bath

kashaya – Neem water decoction can be used to wash, during infection. Like washing the eyes, infected pile mass.
The same water decoction can also be used for sitz bath in peri anal abscess or infected anal fistula or hemorrhoids.

Neem side effects:
Since it can lower blood glucose levels, as a general rule, if you’re fasting, better to avoid oral intake of neem.
People with diabetes should use neem only under medical supervision,with constant blood glucose level  monitoring.
It is best to take the advice of your doctor before using neem during childhood, pregnancy or lactation.
If you are using neem oil for hair, (as in case of dandruff), while washing off the oil, it may cause burning sensation to the eyes. Take care.

How neem oil capsule is useful in cold and cough?
Neem oil capsule in cold and cough is useful especially when there is infection and sinusitis. It helps to prevent or treat infection, being a potent anti bacterial and anti viral herb.
However, it is not usually used as a single medicine to treat cold and cough. Usually a combination of
Sitopaladi churna / Talisadi churna with neem oil capsule  or
Any such other cold cough medicines along with neem oil capsule is advised.
It is very useful when cold / cough is associated with fever.
So, it is used as an adjuvant and supportive to other medicines in the treatment of cold and cough.

Aqueous extract of Azadirachta indica is known to produce antihyperglycemic and hypoglycemic activities in diabetic dogs (Satyanarayan et al., 1978). Fresh leaves decoction possessed anti-hyperglycemic activity and increased the peripheral glucose utilization in normal rats (Chattopadhyay et al., 1987). Crude ethanol extract of leaves (250mg/kg, for 2 weeks) potentially lowered the blood sugar level of alloxan induced diabetic rats (Kar et al., 2003). Petroleum ether extract of
seed kernel (2gm/kg b.w.) & seed husk (0.9gm/kg b.w.) has been reported to reduce oxidative stress in heart tissue and erythrocytes of STZ induced diabetic rats (Gupta et al., 2004). Beta-sitosterol, a steroid obtained from Azadirachta indica, has been reported to possess hypoglycemic property (Mukherjee et al., 2006).