neem large Neem

Neem | Azadirachta indica

general characteristics

general characteristics

Common names include neem, nimtree, nimmi, Indian lilac, margosa and others.

The neem tree is a member of the mahogany family, Meliaceae and is an evergreen fast growing tree reaching 35-40 metres in height. It is a native of tropical and sub-tropical areas, specifically the Indian continent but does grow in other warm climates including the Middle East, sub-saharan Africa and Australia. It likes dry soil and is considered almost entirely drought resistant.
It produces white fragrant flowers in bunches which then develop into olive sized fruit that turn yellow green when ripe.
In India, it is not just used as a medicine and food source but also as an insecticide, pesticide, herbicide and soil stabiliser. It ihas so many important medicinal uses that it has earned the nickname of 'village pharmacy'.

Neem dried leaf is available to buy in our herbal shop..


harvesting and preparation

harvesting and preparation

Most parts of the plant are either medicinal and/or edible including the seeds, fruit, bark, twigs, flowers and leaves. We will focus mainly on the leaf as medicine as this is most commonly available to purchase in the UK.

The oil is made from the seeds and/or kernels of the nuts.

The leaves can be collected as and when needed and used fresh, dried or powdered.

Neem dried leaf is available to buy in our herbal shop.

therapeutic actions and uses

therapeutic actions and uses

Neem has well over 4000 years history of use as a medicine. In he early 1900's, archeologists discovered ancient pots with remnants of herbal pastes containing neem (and other plants) dating to around 5000 years ago.
It is famously planted in many villages as a medicine tree or 'village dispensary' for the whole community to share in. Its traditional use is as a 'blood purifier' against many infectious diseases including malaria, internal parasites, as skin and hair beautifier and for teeth and gum health.
There are so many anecdotal uses for neem and its various parts that I have made the decision to stick to detailing the leaf as this is most widely available around the world. The leaves contain a very complex array of active compounds, over 130 identified so far.


In the ayurvedic tradition neem leaf is considered a major herb against disease causing organisms, whether they be bacterial, viral, or parasitic in nature. It is not only actively harmful to such pathogens but also encourages the whole body to raise its defences and resist the effects of the pathogenic intruders.

It is a powerful antioxidant due to its high levels of quercetin and other compounds.

Neem leaves are often used as an anthelmintic to destroy intestinal worms and  is also strongly anti-parasitic, active against parasites both external and internal, including headlice..

Neem leaf is anti-fungal in action and can help against many fungal infections including candida, thrush, athletes foot, yeast and other fungal infections. 

It is also anti-bacterial, anti-viral and generally active against a wide range of pathogenic organisms.

Neem has a powerful effect on many infectious diseases including HIV and other retroviruses. It has a long use against Malaria. It is thought that mosquitoes are paralysed by it in some way and studies have shown that the malaria parasite has its growth inhibited by neem leaves. Drinking the tea or taking the leaf in powder form is reported to stop mosqitoes from biting you also. Burning the leaves can also help deter mosquitoes. Powdering the dried seeds and adding them to known mosquito breeding pools has given up to 50% reduction in female mosquitos a week later. Dengue fever can also be helped and neem leaf tea will increase both red and white cell count. Neem is an ancient remedy for leprosy.

It is a very good remedy against fever also.

Sexually transmitted diseases such as syphillis and gonorrhoea can also be helped.

The leaves can be used as a mouthwash to promote the health of the gums and mouth and to prevent and heal conditions such as gingivitis and bleeding gums and to prevent dental caries (holes in the teeth) and plaque build up. The young twigs are traditionally chewed, the frayed ends are then used as a toothbrush. In depth study here.

Neem leaves and other parts of the tree act as a contraceptive and conveys temporary infertility in both men and women. In women, the neem leaves and seed oil affect fertility adversely by reducing serum levels of LH (luteinising hormone) and subsequently prevent the release of eggs during ovulation. If neem is taken after ovulation has occurred, neem acts as an egg destroyer, the endometrial lining is also changed to a state where egg implantation is not viable. In men the seed oil it seems to lower testosterone and act as a spermicide, it also greatly reduces sperm mobility. All these anti-fertility effects are reversible when neem leaf is discontinued. I do not recommended you experiment with neem as a contraceptive unless you know what you're doing!

 The leaf is also anti-inflammatory and also analgesic.

Anti-cancer, contains a substance called nimbolide which promotes death of tumour cells and inhibits new blood vessel growth to tumour cells. The leaf has also been shown to reduce the destruction of white blood cells during chemotherapy. Cancers that neem has an action on include leukaemia, colon cancer, cancers in the mouth, cervical cancer, prostate cancer, cervical, pancreatic cancer.

Neem is also a digestive system tonic . It protects the stomach and intestines against excess acid and ulcer formation, fights off infections such as Giardia and other intestinal infections, is effective at lowering blood sugar so can be used in type 2 diabetes where it also repairs and regenerates B cells (insulin producers) in the pancreas. It also helps to clear excess toxins from the digestive system.

Protects the liver from excess toxicity, including the damage from excess alcohol intake and painkillers like paracetamol.

Neem leaf has an excellent reputation for clearing up stubborn skin diseases such as acne, scabies, ringworm, vitiligo, dandruff, eczema, psoriasis, bacterial folliculitis (inflammation of the hair follicles), to prevent outbreaks of spots and to lessen dark pigmentation patches and to promote healthy new skin formation. Some spots can leave the skin with dark marks for many weeks even years afterwards and neem, when used regularly, as a wash or mask will help dramatically lessen the pigment.

It is also an excellent skin conditioner. Use the tea from the leaves in a bath to prevent or alleviate skin infections and to condition the skin or take as a tea internally or in powder form internally. Even pigmentation issues, age spots and wrinkles as shown in this lovely video here made by youtuber 'skinpassion'. Just looking at her skin made me run to my herb cupboard to get the neem leaves out!

Neem leaves are also effective in any kind of open skin as an anti-microbial against many types of bacteria and make an excellent wound herb as a result. Use as a tea to wash the wound wash or mash the leaves into a paste to place over the wound.

Neem leaves also have an action on the brain and nervous system and act as a remedy for anxiety and have anti-stress and muscle relaxing properties when taken in small doses. After a small tea, the body is relaxed and in a state conducive to good sleep so may be taken in the evening to help insomnia. A small dose would be around .25g (1/4 g) powdered leaf. Avoid taking it for more than a couple of weeks though.

They also offer protection to the kidneys from the damaging effects of diabetes, malaria and infections and toxins affecting the kidneys.


A thorough look into the historical and contemporary uses of the neem tree can be found here.


Another in depth article detailing the active constituents of neem and their actions in the body can be found here.

dosage and cautions

dosage and cautions

* Do not use neem when pregnant or breastfeeding or when trying to conceive (both men and women).

* Do not give to children.

* Neem will lower your fertility, temporarily but it may also affect the health of the testes.

* Due to its hormonal like actions it can cause menstrual irregularities, discontinue use if this happens and regularity will resume.

* Carefully monitor your blood sugar when taking neem as it will lower blood sugar and any type 2 diabetes medication doses may need adjusting.

* Avoid neem if fasting as it will lower blood sugar levels.

* May cause digestive symptoms such as cramping, gas, nausea, bloating, diarrhoea and vomiting if taken in excess. If this happens, stop taking neem immediately.

* Avoid internal use in children.

* Avoid using when taking prescribed or regular medications as neem can interact.

* Some Ayurvedic sources state not to take neem for more than 2 weeks consecutively.



* Do not exceed the stated doses below unless supervised by a natural doctor or herbalist who has experience using neem. Neem is a potent plant  medicine.


Dried leaf in tea form: Start with around 1/4 teaspoon of dried leaves  and simmer in a cup or so of boiling water for 10 minutes, one cup daily and one in evening if needed. Gradually build up to 1 teaspoon of dried leaves in a cup. One cup daily. Neem is very bitter  (VERY bitter!) and you may want to add something like cinnamon, fennel seeds or honey and lemon etc. to improve the taste.

Dried leaf in powder form: 1/4 to 1/2 a gramme daily.

You can also make a tea and use it as a wash for skin conditions and wounds or add to a bath. The leaves can also be powdered and mixed with a little oil or water to make a paste which can be applied to the skin.

* The leaves can also be burned in a room to disinfect the air and to repell insects including mosquitoes.







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