Neem tree has been described in Ayurveda's prime text, the Charaka Samhita, as sarva roga nivarini (that which keeps all diseases at bay) or arishtha (reliever of disease).
Its extracts have been used in the Ayurvedic tradition for thousands of years for maintaining health and overall well-being. The roots, bark, gum, leaves, fruit, seed kernels and seed oil are all used in therapeutic preparations for both internal and topical use.
1. Neem, a tree native to India, is a vital ingredient in Ayurveda. Regarded as a 'one tree pharmacy', the Neem tree has several medicinal uses and forms an integral part of home remedies for the hair and skin.
2. Neem leaf has antifungal and antibacterial properties, making it effective in treating dandruff.
3. It also relieves dryness and itching, strengthens hair and promotes hair growth.
4. Traditionally, neem paste has been used to condition the hair and scalp.
5. It also soothes irritation, prevents dryness and flaking.
6. Neem is mentioned in most Ayurvedic formulations for the treatment of skin disorders because of its detoxifying properties.
7. The growth of acne-causing bacteria such as propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) and staphylococcus epidermidis is also inhibited by neem.
8. The role of neem in acne is further supported by studies which have shown that it exhibits anti-inflammatory activity by suppressing P. acnes-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-a and IL-8.
9. Neem oil and neem leaves are excellent skin care ingredients. The oil relieves dry skin and soothes itchiness, redness and irritation.
10. It also improves general skin health and immunity, combating bacterial infections such as acne, boils and ulcers.
11. Its antimicrobial properties help heal wounds without causing any infections or septic conditions.
12. For acne, neem tackles bacteria from the root and prevents the recurrence of pimples and blemishes.
13. It is especially beneficial for skin disorders like eczema and minor skin infections. Neem leaves also eliminate acne-causing bacteria.
14. It is also a gastro protective element and effective in healing ulcers.
15. It contains high level of antioxidants that help protect skin from environmental damage and from aging.
16. Neem oil contains fatty acid and vitamin E that gets absorbed easily into the skin, it helps rejuvenate skin cells and restore elasticity.
17. It helps maintain a glowing skin and balance skin tone.
18. The high fatty-acid content in neem oil helps prevent and treat scars from acne.
19. Neem leaves are also excellent exfoliants; it tightens pores and removes impurities when used as a mask.
20. It is an excellent healer of skin fungal infections.
(Data courtesy: Chandrika Mahendra, Senior Research Scientist, R & D, The Himalaya Drug Company)