It’s a simple question. What Is Neem Oil? It’s the extracted oil from the seeds and fruit of the Indian Lilac (Azadirachta indica) tree – Neem – is an incredibly beneficial substance.
You may also hear that the Neem Azadirachta indica plant is also referred to as a Margosa Tree. The tree, scared and held in high regard in India. Every component of this plant has a practical, medicinal and/or personal care use.
In India, people often refer to the Neem Tree as “the plant with promise” or the “one that can cure all illnesses”. Because Neem cure has very powerful anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antiseptic and antifungal properties, it plays a big part in Ayurvedic medicine.
Read on to learn more about this tree and the benefits of neem oil.
Active Ingredient Present In Every Part Of The Neem Plant
The Azadirachtin compound, the active ingredient is present in every part of the plant, and this is the component that imparts the ability to fight off fungus, bacteria, viruses and even parasites.
In India, Neem is a component of many home, health and personal care products. Regular, consistent use of these products helps ward off illness, boosts the immune system and contributes to overall glowing good health.
People in India typically keep this evergreen tree in the yard and turn to it for many different neem products to meet household, hygiene and medicinal needs.
In the western world we mostly use Neem oil or Margosa oil. This oil comes from the seeds and fruit of the tree, which look something like olives. Each small fruit contains a single seed. Inside the seed are a few kernels (ranging from one to three in number) which contain the oil. The oil neem leaves are also used for medicinal purposes.
Of all the products made from parts of the Neem tree, the oil is the most useful and important. The compounds contained in this miraculous oil have a wide variety of cosmetic, medicinal and insecticidal uses.
Neem is very familiar throughout the far east, but we are just now becoming familiar with it in the west. The benefits of the oil are so convincing that many western doctors recognize them and recommend Neem oil for various uses.
The adaptable, hardy Neem tree is currently grown on plantations in Australia and in the United States.
The Characteristics of Neem Oil
The oil produced from Neem seed kernels is golden in color. It may be light, dark or any shade in between. The oil has a rich, nutty scent. Some people say that the oil smells like garlic or sulfur. While some say it has a “bad” smell, the fact is, the more you use Neem oil, the more you will come to appreciate its scent.
The distinctive scent and bitter taste of Neem oil is caused by the triterpenoid and triglyceride compounds. The oil also contains:
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids
- Omega 9 Fatty Acid
- Omega 6 Fatty Acid
- Palmitoleic Acid
- Palmitic Acid
- Stearic Acid
Triterpenoid compounds (aka: limonoids) are also found in abundance. In addition to anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, these compounds work to fight inflammation and reduce fever. The limonoid compounds found in Neem oil are:
Of these, Azadirachtin is the most powerful and is especially effective when used against insects, pests and parasites. Azadirachtin repels and kills a wide variety of insects and has been used as a natural insect repellent and insecticide for centuries. But be careful with its use as it can also harm beneficial insects in the garden. Just create a solution with water and spray in cracks and crevices and different corners of the house.
It can also help get rid of head lice and its eggs attached on your hair and scalp. Apart from pest control, organic neem oil with its anti-fungal properties makes it useful to fight fungal disease with plants.
In modern times, a spray of a neem oil insecticide has been proven effective against pests such as:
It also repels biting insects such as:
- Sand Fleas
How Is Neem Oil Processed?
The mechanical press method is an ancient way of processing many types of oil. With this method, seeds are put into a container or tub where they are pressed to force the oil out. As with most oils, cold pressing is the preferred extraction method. It is a bit more costly, but it extracts ample amounts of oil and preserves all the goodness and benefits. Cold pressed neem oil provides great benefits and has many applications.
Heat processing typically damages the good qualities of beneficial oils. Be sure to look for “first-press” oil when seeking oil for personal care and medicinal uses. The oil extract of neem from subsequent pressings is best used for pesticides, fungicides and Neem based cleaning products.
2. Steam & Pressure
The high pressure steam method uses steam to heat the seeds and pressure to extract the oil. This is a very thorough method that gets the greatest amount of oil possible from the seeds; however, it damages the quality of the oil. The high heat destroys many of the benefits found in the active ingredients of neem extracts.
The solvent extraction method is very widely used and also extracts a great deal of oil from the seed kernels. This method uses a petroleum and alcohol solvent to process the oil. This process also sacrifices quality for quantity.
Neem Oil Is Used In A Variety Of Industries
In the cosmetic industry, pure neem oil and neem leaf oil are frequently used in producing a wide variety of personal care products including:
- Shampoo & Conditioner
- Facial Masques
- Body Lotion & Skin Care
- Neem soap
In the agricultural industry, the compound known as Azadirachtin, which is extracted from seeds, is in great demand. The uses for neem include:
- Natural Pesticide
- Natural Insecticide
- Natural Fungicide
In the herbal medicine industry all parts of the Neem tree are used in the manufacture of a wide variety of herbal medicines.
The Side Effects Of Neem Oil
Neem oil is very beneficial when used externally, but when taken internally it can cause illness or even death. Its use must be restricted to adults because it can be very dangerous to children. A study conducted in 1982 showed that use of Neem oil in children could cause swelling of major organs, including the brain. Children who are exposed to Neem oil are at risk for developing an illness that is very like Reye’s Syndrome.
How To Handle Neem Oil
- Protect all types of Neem oil from sunlight. Keep it in an opaque container in a cool, dry place.
- If your storage area is very cool, cosmetic/medicinal Neem oil will solidify. For ease of use, if it comes in a bottle, transfer it into a jar so you can scoop it out.
- Never warm Neem oil in the microwave. Excessive heat will destroy the beneficial properties. Just set your bottle or jar of oil in a bowl of very warm water to soften the oil.
- Experiment with essential oils such as jojoba oil, castor oil or lavender essential oil to add benefit and scent to your Neem oil. Study up on the uses of various essential oils to make the most of their good qualities.
- When diluting Neem oil with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or olive oil but remember that about 2%-5% Neem oil is usually just about the right amount.
- Don’t use Neem oil around your eyes or on mucus membranes. It can be very irritating.
- Remember that Neem oil has a bitter taste for a reason! It isn’t edible. Don’t ingest it or use it in dental care products.
- Before using the Neem essential oil over a large area of skin, do a sensitivity test. Put a dab of Neem oil on the soft skin of your inner arm and wait 24 hours. If any irritated skin, sensitivity or allergic reaction develops, consult your health care professional before using Neem oil.
Replace Dozens Of Personal & Home Care Products
Because of its high fatty acid and vitamin E content, cosmetic/pharmaceutical Neem oil is a superb moisturizer that works wonders for severely dry, damaged, cracked skin. It helps restore the elasticity of the skin and promotes healing.
The antibacterial properties of Neem oil make very useful in treating skin problems, wounds, allergies and conditions ranging from acne to psoriasis and eczema.
Its antifungal, antibacterial and anti-parasite components make industrial grade Neem oil an excellent product to keep on hand for home, lawn and garden care.