Other Names: Neem; nim; margousier, neem (French); Nimbaum, Neembaum (German); nem (Italian); margosa (Spanish).
Description: Neem is an evergreen tree of 10 m or more in height with large, pinnately compound leaves. The leaflets are somewhat sickle-shaped and have serrate margins. Inconspicuous white flowers are borne in summer.
Origin: The tree is thought to be indigenous to Sri Lanka, India and Burma. It is now widely cultivated in many parts of the Old World tropics, including Indonesia and Africa.
Uses and Properties: Neem is widely used in Ayurveda, can be used to help support skin infections and wounds. Numerous other ailments are traditionally supported, including stomach problems, haemorrhoids and malaria. It can also be used in soaps, lotions and toothpastes.
Active Ingredients: The positive health activity of neem is due mainly to bitter triterpenoids (limonoids) of which azadirachtin is one of the main compounds; also tannins and flavonoids are present.
Health Effects: Azadirachtin is a powerful insect antifeedant that disrupts metamorphosis in moth larvae at extremely low concentrations. The main focus of research on neem has been on the insecticidal properties but in recent years investigations have expanded to the medicinal utilisations. Several papers have shown disinfectant activity in extracts of neem leaves and seeds, likely to be due to the limonoids. A volatile fraction of neem seed oil (coded as NIM-76) was shown to have potent in vitro spermicidal activity. The activity has been linked to various free fatty acids and their methyl esters. A large number of studies have been published on the health properties of neem and neem extracts, covering a wide range of indications and ailments.
Notes: Few cultivated trees are more hardy, useful and versatile than the neem tree - in addition, to medicine, it provides shade, firewood, fodder, oil (from the seeds), natural insecticide and ingredients for toothpaste and soap.
Status: Traditional health.
Hot tea brewing method: Bring freshly drawn cold water to a rolling boil. Place 1 tea bag for each cup into the teapot. Pour the boiling water into the pot, cover and let steep for 2-4 minutes. Pour into your cup; add milk and sugar to taste.
Iced tea brewing method: (to make 1 liter/quart): Place 5 tea bags into a teapot or heat resistant pitcher. Pour 1 1/4 cups of freshly boiled water over the tea itself. Steep for 5 minutes. Quarter fill a serving pitcher with cold water. Pour the tea into the serving pitcher straining the tea bags. Add ice and top-up with cold water. Garnish and sweeten to taste.
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