Thursday, September 22, 2011

Neem - Azadirachta indica

Neem, which belongs to the family Meliaceae, has a botanical name Azadirachta Indica. It grows in tropical and semi tropical regions and is widespread in Burma, India and Pakistan. It is a very rapid growth, evergreen tree reaching a height of 15 to 20 meters.
Neem is known for its immeasurable medicinal properties and is used as the main ingredient in many home remedies. Commending the medicinal properties of neem, numerous Sanskrit names have been invented by our acharyas ayurveda.
Scientific classification:
Kingdom: Plantae 
Division: Magnoliophyta 
Order: Sapindales 
Family: Meliaceae 
Genus: Azadirachta 
Species: Azadirachta indica
Neem is a fast growing tree that can reach a height of 15-20 m (about 50 to 65 feet), rarely to 35-40 m (115-131 feet). It is evergreen, but in a severe drought, it can do most or almost all its leaves. The branches are widely used. The crown is dense round or oval and may reach 15-20 m in diameter in the former, free-standing specimens.
The opposite, pinnate leaves are 20-40 cm (8-16 inches) long, with 20-31 medium to dark green leaflets about 3-8 cm (1-3 in.) long. The terminal leaflet is often missing. The petioles are short.


The flowers (white and fragrant) are arranged in axillary, in principle more or less drooping panicles which are up to 25 cm (10 in.) long. The inflorescences, which branch to the third degree, bear 150-250 flowers. Individual flower is 5-6 mm long and 8-11 mm wide. Protandrous, bisexual flowers and male flowers exist on the same individual.
The fruit is a smooth surface (smooth) as olive drupes which varies oval-shaped to nearly round, and when ripe are 1.4 to 2.8 x 1.0 to 1.5 cm. The fruit skin (exocarp) is thin and bitter-sweet pulp (mesocarp) is yellowish-white and very fibrous. The mesocarp is 0.3-0.5 cm thick. The white, inner hard shell (endocarp) of the fruit contains one, rarely two or three, elongated seeds (kernels) having a brown coat.

Neem is very similar in appearance to the Chinaberry (Melia azedarach), whose parts are highly toxic to mammals, while birds are known to gorge on the berries, the seeds of safe passage through their digestive system unique.
The neem tree is noted for its drought resistance. Normally it thrives in areas with sub-arid to sub-humid conditions, with annual rainfall between 400 mm and 1200. It can grow in areas with annual rainfall below 400 mm, but in these cases, it depends largely on groundwater levels. Neem can grow in many soil types but grows best on deep soils with good drainage and sandy. This is a typical tropical and subtropical tree exists in average annual temperatures between 21-32 ° C. It can tolerate high to very high temperatures and does not tolerate temperature below 4 ° C. Neem is a tree that gives life, especially for the dry coastal, southern districts of India. He is one of very few in the shade of trees that thrive giving in areas prone to drought. The trees are not difficult at all about the water quality and prosper in the slightest trickle of water, regardless of quality. In India, it is very common to see neem trees used for shade along streets or in backyards most people. In very dry areas, trees are planted in large tracts of land.
State Weed 
Neem is considered a weed in many areas, including parts of the Middle East, and most of sub-Saharan Africa including West Africa, where, in Senegal, it was used as a drug against Malaria and Tanzania and other Indian Ocean states where it is known in Kiswahili as "the panacea", literally "tree that cures forty [disease]," which uses Ayurveda is practiced.

Ecologically, it survives well in environments similar to his, for example by replacing babul tree of India with the African Acacia species.

Chemical compounds 

Indian scientists were the first to bring the plant to the attention of phytopharmacologists. In 1942, while working at the Laboratory of Scientific and Industrial Research, University of Delhi, British India, three bitter compounds were extracted from neem oil, which were named Nimbin, and nimbinin nimbidin. The seeds contain azadirachtin complex secondary metabolite.


In India, the tree is variously known as the "sacred tree", "cure all", "Nature's Pharmacy", "village pharmacy" and "panacea for all diseases." Products made from neem have been used in India for over two millennia for their medicinal properties: Neem products were found to be anthelmintic, antifungal, antidiabetic, antibacterial, antiviral, contraception and sedative. Neem products are also used in selective fight against plant pests. It is considered a major component in Ayurvedic and Unani and is particularly prescribed for skin disease.
  • All parts of the tree are said to have medicinal properties (seeds, leaves, flowers and bark) and are used for the preparation of many medical preparations.
  • Part of the Neem tree can be used as spermicide
  • Neem oil is used for preparing cosmetics (soap, shampoo neem - Sunsan herbs, balms and creams, for example Margo soap), and is useful for skin care such as acne, and keeping skin elasticity. Neem oil has been found to be a mosquito repellent.
  • Derived from neem neutralize nearly 500 pests worldwide, including insects, mites, ticks and nematodes, affecting their behavior and physiology. Neem is not usually kill the insects immediately, but rejects them and affects their growth. Because neem products are cheap and non toxic to higher animals and insects most beneficial, they are well suited for pest control in rural areas.
  • In addition to its use in traditional Indian medicine, Neem is of great importance for its anti-desertification and possibly as a sink of carbon dioxide good.
  • Practitioners of traditional Indian medicine recommend that patients with chickenpox sleep on neem leaves.
  • Neem gum is used as blowing agent and for preparation of special foods (for diabetics).
  • Aqueous extracts of neem leaves have shown a significant anti-diabetic potential.
  • Traditionally, thin branches of neem have been chewed to clean teeth. Neem twigs are still collected and sold in markets for such use, and India, we often see young people in the streets chewing on the twigs of neem.
  • A decoction prepared from roots of neem is ingested to relieve fever in Indian traditional medicine.
  • The neem leaf paste is applied to the skin to treat acne, and in a similar vein is used for measles and chicken pox patients.
  • Neem flowers are used in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to prepare pachhadi Ugadi. "Bevin hoovina gojju" (a type of curry made with neem flowers) is common in Karnataka during the year. Dried flowers are used when fresh flowers are not available. In Tamil Nadu, a rasam (veppam poo rasam) made with flowers of neem is a culinary specialty.
  • A mixture of neem flowers and Bella (jaggery or unrefined brown sugar) is prepared and available to parents and friends, sweet and bitter symbolic events in the coming years new.
Neem leaf extract is thought to be useful as a prophylactic against malaria, despite the fact that no full clinical study are still available. In many cases, private initiatives in Senegal have managed to prevent malaria. However, major NGOs such as USAID are not supposed to use extracts from neem unless the medical benefit has been proven by clinical studies.

Use insect pests and diseases

Neem is a key ingredient in non-pesticidal management (NPM), providing a natural alternative to chemical pesticides. Neem seeds are ground into a powder that is soaked overnight in water and sprayed on crops. To be effective, it is necessary to spray at least every ten days. Neem is not directly kill insects on crops. It acts as a deterrent to anti-feeds, repellent and oviposition, crop protection against damage. Insects starve and die within days. Neem also suppresses the hatching of eggs of insect pests. Neem cake is often sold as fertilizer.
Neem is deemed very effective in the treatment of scabies, but only preliminary scientific evidence that has yet to be substantiated, there is, and is recommended for those who are sensitive to permethrin, an insecticide known which could be an irritant. In addition, the itch has not yet become resistant to neem, so in persistent cases neem has been shown to be very effective. There is also anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness in treating infestations of head lice in humans. The oil is also used in bombs against fleas for cats and dogs.


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