What’s the difference between leaf and bark extracts?
We make neem extracts — your grandmother would have called them tinctures — with both neem leaf and neem bark because each has some significant advantages.
Most of the research work being done around the world today focuses on neem leaf extract. It’s much easier to harvest and it’s the part of the tree most often used in traditional Ayurvedic medical. Neem bark is more difficult to harvest, although it can be done sustainably without harming the tree.
Although neem bark extract is very similar to neem leaf extract, it does have some critical differences depending upon your personal health goals. Two critical points:
- It is made without glycerin so it’s a better option for oral care than neem leaf extract – and it tastes better too!
- The lack of glycerine also makes it a better option for teens with non-cystic acne because the glycerine is an oily substance that can acerbate already-oily skin.
Neem bark also is the traditional choice for oral care, and millions of people without access to dental care in tropical countries have beautiful smiles because they use neem chew sticks. Along with neem bark extract — which Dr. Oz calls a secret weapon” in the war for good oral hygiene, we make a neem bark mouthwash. It’s basically the neem bark extract, flavored with natural extracts of cinnamon or peppermint and the tooth-friendly sweetener xylitol) so it tastes better for the average American.
But even an alcohol-based extract may not be the best choice for people with tummy troubles or diabetes. Alcohol is used in traditional “tinctures,” but it’s actually very easy to make a water-based extract that would have the same properties without the added alcohol. We don’t sell that product because it would be so difficult to preserve, but it’s easy to make at home – just be sure to refrigerate any infusion you don’t use immediately. (Mix a scant ¼ teaspoon of neem bark in a cup of very hot water, stir well and allow to cool. The powder will settle to the bottom of the cup, so you can drink it or pour the dregs on your favorite plant.)
The supercritical neem bark extract is significantly more expensive than the alcohol-based neem bark extract, but it’s so highly concentrated that it actually is a better value for some customers. Dose-per-dose, particularly for people who take large amounts of neem over long periods of time, the supercritical drops are typically a choice, both based on price and on the lack of alcohol.