Neem Oil: Uses, Benefits & Side-effects
What Is Neem?
The scientific name of Neem is Azadirachta Indica. It’s a tree in the mahogany family Meliaceae. It grows in the Indian subcontinent, i.e. India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Bangladesh. It usually grows in tropical and semi-tropical regions.
Neem trees have the ability to survive through the droughts and in dry regions. Neem can also grow in different types of soils, though well-drained deep and sandy soils are the best at nurturing neem trees. Neem is also able to tolerate high temperatures, but it is unable to tolerate temperatures lower than 4 ℃. Neem also does not require a specific type of water, therefore, it is able to survive with the least amount of water.
All in all, it can be said that neem is a very undemanding tree and it is able to survive with the barest of caretaking.
Neem oil is extracted from the neem tree’s fruits and seeds.
Neem oil is a vegetable oil, extracted from the fruits and seeds of the neem tree. It is the most commercially available form of neem and is used mainly in the fields of medicine and organic farming.
The color of neem oil ranges from a light golden yellow to a much darker shade like bright red. It also has an extremely strong odor, a little like the smell of garlic mixed with peanuts.
Neem oil isn’t used for consumption as cooking oil, but it acts as the main ingredient in a variety of cosmetics like hair oil, soaps and body lotions.
Neem oil is also used as an organic alternative to pesticides in farming. Being a plant extract, it does not harm or poison the plants but manages to get rid of the pests.
Uses and Benefits of Neem Oil
Neem oil is used in a variety of fields, for a variety of reasons. Mainly, neem oil is used in the medical and cosmetic industries.
Uses of Neem Oil for Skin:
Neem oil is extremely beneficial for skin, and its regular application can help you avoid dry skin, inflammation and many signs of aging.
The active ingredients in neem oil promote the healing process. The fatty acids maintain the elasticity of the skin. Neem oil also reduces scarring and its antibacterial properties keep the wound healthy while it heals.
Neem oil has antibacterial, antifungal and antibacterial properties. Therefore, it is excellent at reducing skin inflammation, soothing the affected area and helping it heal.
Reduces Effects of Aging:
The antioxidants in Neem oil (eg. Cartenoids) protect the skin from the harmful effects of sun damage, environmental damage and the damage caused by free radicals. Vitamins and fatty acids in the oil improve the collagen levels and help preserve the elasticity of the skin.
Moisturizes the Skin:
Neem oil deeply moisturizes the skin. It’s rich in fatty acids that relieve dry skin and also Vitamin E. It tones the skin, repairs the damage caused by polluted environment and heals damaged skin.
Neem Oil for Hair:
Regularly applying Neem oil to the scalp and hair makes them healthier. When used weekly, Neem oil can help in various ways like:
Maintains a Healthy pH level:
The natural pH level of hair and scalp is acidic, but it can be affected by hair care products as well as polluted surroundings. Applying neem oil helps maintain a balanced pH level of the scalp and hair, thus keeping them healthy.
Treats Dandruff and Dry Scalp:
Neem oil is an important ingredient in many anti-dandruff shampoos. Neem oil is natural, therefore it has no harmful effects on the scalp or the hair. It reduces itching, kills harmful microbes and also moisturizes the scalp.
Promotes Growth and Strengthens the Hair Roots:
Neem oil regulates the oil secretion in the scalp if used regularly, which leads to a healthier scalp and stronger hair. It also strengthens the roots and revives damaged hair. Regular use of Neem oil makes hair healthy, strong and thick.
Prevents/Removes Hair Lice:
Neem oil contains a component called Azadirachtin, which is toxic to lice and nits. Even the smell of Neem oil acts as a repellant against lice. Therefore, regular use of neem oil can ensure a lice free head.
Reduces Frizz and Smoothens Hair:
Damage of the hair cuticle leads to rough or frizzy hair. Such hair becomes dry and appears untamable. Neem oil repairs the cuticle damage, thus turning the hair smooth and frizz free.
Neem Oil for Teeth and Gums:
Neem oil has been used for oral care since a long time in India. People in villages still chew branches of the neem tree in order to keep their teeth healthy and clean. Here are some of the most prominent benefits of Neem oil for teeth and gums:
Helps Heal Gums:
Neem oil has many antibacterial qualities. Therefore, it helps prevent gum diseases and gingivitis. Its anti-inflammatory properties also help boost the immune system.
Plaque and calculus occur when bacteria attach themselves to the teeth. When neem oil is used regularly, it stops bacteria from attaching itself to the teeth and kills it, thus preventing gum diseases.
Prevents Bad Breath:
Some bacteria cause decay to the teeth and also cause bad breath. There are a number of dental products that include Neem oil. Regular use of such products kills the bacteria and helps produce sweet breath and healthy teeth.
Side Effects of Neem Oil
Neem oil is safe, but it is also extremely powerful. It may cause a severe reaction in someone with sensitive skin or a skin disorder. While using it for the first time, it is better to use it in a diluted form on a small area of your skin, so that any reaction could be perceived well before you start using it. You should also refer to your doctor/consultant before using neem oil.
Severe rashes, hives, and difficulty in breathing can all be signs of allergic reaction. In such cases, it’d be better to avoid using neem oil on your skin.
Neem oil is strong and thus not suitable for use by children. You should also avoid using neem oil if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Neem oils should never be consumed—with food or water—as it is toxic.
Thus, neem oil has a lot of application-based benefits, though it should never be consumed.