Neem: A Hands-On Guide to One of the World’s Most Versatile Herbs

 In General

We were part of a group that published this 48-page booklet in 2010 and then again in 2014 to combine the clinical evidence collected in research labs around the world with what we were hearing from our customers. The group has mostly retired or moved on to other endeavors so we’re slowly putting the information — updated as possible — on the Neem Tree Farms website.

The statements in it have NOT been approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and Neem Tree Farms does not sell products which are intended to diagnose, prevent, control or treat any disease, or repel any insect except as allowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s registration of NimBioSys.

The joy of this booklet, however, is that it combines research — which sometimes takes a PhD in physiology to even understand the title — with what’s important to the people who use and grow neem.

Please read the section on contraindications — why neem should be avoided by some people — first. It is a powerful herb and although it’s been used for nearly 5,000 years, it should be avoided by people trying to get pregnant, people with auto-immune diseases and children with fevers. Neem oil — pressed from the seed — should never be used internally. (We are told that Indian children never get sick because their mothers feed them neem oil like our grandparents used castor oil, and it tastes even worse!)

We’ll go through the booklet a chapter at a time (because 48 pages is a lot to read online!) and thought we’d start we what we call the neem’s “long list of ‘antis.” While not FDA-approved, the medical literature online at the National Institutes of Health is pretty clear, although some details are lacking because neem has been used for so many centuries that they just list them as basic knowledge.

When modern researchers first began looking at neem a little more than 50 years ago, they carefully detailed the ancient uses and then the known biological activities of its various components. Current reports generally note that neem is recognized as one of a long list of“antis” including:

  • Anti-inflammatory *
  • Anti-arthritic *
  • Anti-pyretic (fever) *
  • Anti-gastric (ulcer) *
  • Anti-fungal (see User Reports below) *
  • Anti-bacterial *
  • Anti-viral *
  • Anti-tumor *
  • Anti-histamine (allergy) *
  • Anti-feedant *
  • Anti-complement (similar to antioxidant) *
  • Anti-fertility *
  • Anti-carcinogenic *
  • Anti-anxiety *

Although many of these “antis” are covered in specific sections, we are including the following reportson vaginal Candida * here because it affects so many women and can be extremely resistant to standard treatment.

Reports from Users

As a holistic practitioner, it is especially frustrating when I cannot “heal thyself” when I am the patient. It happened with a rare, for me—but not uncommon occurrence for many women—persistent yeast infection. My yeast infection symptoms began in the first week of September —burning, itching, painful coitus, and extreme vaginal discomfort. I am allergic to Monistat® creams, so this treatment was out for me. On Sept. 5, I began the following treatment protocol: oral live cultured unsweetened yogurts, elimination of dietary sugar and alcohol, and the oral drug Dilfucan®. Two weeks later my symptoms finally began to lessen, but they didn’t disappear. So next I tried two over-the-counter creams: Tioconazole Vaginal Ointment® and Clotrimzaole Vaginal Cream.

My symptoms waxed and waned but never completely resolved. I eventually went on Dilfucan® again for two weeks, and then again after a two-week break.

On Oct. 4, a month after I had started my series of treatments, I called my gynecologist to have a culture done to see if perhaps this was actually a bacterial infection even though that was not my diagnostic impression. The nurse practitioner thought it was most likely a bacterial infection and sent me home with a prescription for an antibacterial cream. My symptoms continued. The culture results arrived on Oct. 9, saying“no” to bacterial infection and“yes” to a slight yeast infection. Treatment was to be Dilfucan® for several months at two-week intervals. This was not very practical, and the first two-week cycle had almost no impact on my symptoms.

Then another holistic practitioner recommended neem oil to me. So, on Oct. 13, 14 and 15, after everything else had been ineffective, I began my new

regimen — a tampon soaked in neem oil inserted twice a day for just three days. My symptoms were virtually gone after the second day, and by the third day, the symptoms had completely disappeared. After suffering intensely for over 1-½ months despite having tried all other products, using neem oil for three days eradicated the infection and changed what my life had become. I will never use anything else, and I recommend it without reservation to my patients for symptoms of yeast infection.

Anonymous, by request

For years, I avoided antibiotics like the plague because the side effects were worse than the potential symptoms, even though we rescue big dogs and I’m regularly scratched or bitten. I used antibiotic cream on the bites, but didn’t take anything orally until I saw clear signs of infection because I knew I would come down with a severe yeast infection and a unnerving combination of constipation and diarrhea. My last bite was a really bad one, so I started cipro immediately — but a friend had recommended that I take neem capsules too. I don’t know which worked on the bite, but it healed beautifully with no scarring. And, for the first time in my life, I didn’t have any side effects — which had literally put me in bed in the past. My vet knows I don’t abuse meds, so I always have antibiotics on hand. I’ll never not have neem after this experience!

Jackie T., Miami Beach, FL

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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