Neem in the News, May 2018 *
A new scientific review of neem was published last month. We love to see these kind of reports — they provide a big-picture overview of an issue, and then a great bibliography if you want to learn more.
The latest report on neem comes from the peer-reviewed Phytotherapy Research journal, although the full report is paywalled. Rather than looking at a specific issue, like the report from Roswell Park Cancer Center, these researchers covered everything from anti-bacterial properties to insecticidal issues, as well as safety in humans and other mammals. *
It also takes a look at the specific parts of the tree and their differing aspects, although it mainly looked at extracts made with water, alcohol and methanol rather than the more-effective supercritical extracts that use carbon dioxide under pressure to concentrate chemical compounds in neem.
And unlike most reports that simply list neem’s properties like antibacterial, antifungal, anti-diabetic and anti-tumor, these researchers have tried to explain WHY neem works not just note that it does. That means a lot of the language goes way over my head but the extensive bibliography gives a more interested reader the opportunity to go back to the original research.
Another benefit to this review that is sorely lacking in many reports is suggested doses. Along with information on lethal/sublethal doses that should be avoided, this scientific review suggests milligram per kilogram doses for its most important uses.
It also, to a large degree, shows why some reports on neem can be so contradictory. Using neem leaf extract as an antibacterial, for instance, looks at the multiple extraction methods against both gram-positive and negative bacteria and then compares them to the multitude of allelopathic antibiotics.
One of the sections I found most interesting – in large part because I get so many questions about it – covered neem’s use as an anti-diabetic treatment. Possible mechanisms for that impact include elevated production of insulin and/or increased utilization of peripheral glucose. Multiple researchers also have suggested that the azadirachtin present in leaves and bark may delay or prevent the onset of disease. (Neem should NEVER be used to treat diabetes unless you test your blood sugar levels often, sometimes it works so well that you can be hypoglycemic, which is just as dangerous as high blood sugar.)
Another study I missed when it was originally published shows that neem reduces triglycerides, lipids and overall cholesterol levels – but not the “good” HDL cholesterol.
From an anti-inflammatory perspective, this scientific review of neem documented several reports that show a water or alcohol extract of neem may be as effective as some prescription pain relievers. At the same time, for people who need high levels of pain medications, it also highlights studies showing that neem protects against gastric ulcer and liver damage that can be caused by those meds.
It’s not easy reading, but I’m really glad I slogged through it – with a highlighter in hand. So many reports on neem are anecdotal that it’s a real benefit to me to understand more about neem from a scientific perspective.
* This report is based on information published by one of the world’s largest academic publishers but it has not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Neem Tree Farms does not sell products which are intended to diagnose, treat, control or prevent any disease, or control any pests on people or animals.