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This past week while roaming the aisles of a favorite health food store, I happen to come across Neem Oil. I had heard of this oil before and now I was curious to see exactly what it claims it can do and if any research had been done. It turns out there are lots of claims, but not too much research. 

What is it?

The oil is pressed from the seeds of the neem tree. It’s an evergreen tree (from the mahogany family) originally found in the southern region of Asia that has since ended up in other parts of the world. Most refer to neem as an ancient eastern holistic medicine. For topical use, the oil has to be formulated with other ingredients so that it doesn’t just sit on the skin but can be absorbed for best results. It has a distinctive odor, widely described as a nutty, garlic scent with a bitter taste. 

What’s in it?

Neem oil contains antioxidants, carotenoids and has a high fatty-acid content. This oil is used with the belief that it will fight fungal infections, kill bacteria and reduce inflammation. The list of compounds, and their names, would make your head swim. I’m not going to get into organic chemistry here but let’s just say that one organic chemical stands out, namely Terpenoid. It’s being studied for its antibacterial and aromatic properties.

How is it used?

Touted as a cure-all for just about anything related to fungi, bacteria and viruses, its supporters say neem oil can be applied in various ways, including using prepared oil drops for direct application, diluting the oil with water in a spray bottle for application and neem toothpaste and mouth rinse products.

It's used to treat:

  • athlete’s foot
  • head lice
  • eczema
  • indigestion
  • banish acne
  • reduce skin pigmentation and wrinkles
  • prevent teeth and gum plaque from forming
  • and even repel bugs

And this isn’t even the whole list. That’s one all-purpose oil! Naturally I question if I want to put this on my face when it’s used as an insect repellant! It’s sounds crazy

Does it work?

"Time-Proven" is the key!

Research wasn’t as easy to find as the many claims made about Neem Oil. More often than not, any scientific research done was inadequate or neutral. But isn’t that the basis for many medicinal herbs?

It seems to me that many successful holistic treatments are based on the fact that they are "time-proven." Having been used for hundreds, and sometimes, thousands of years, holistic herbs have proven their success by continual use. Being passed down from generation to generation can be a pretty good indication, in my opinion, of it’s effectiveness.

Evidently, Dr. Rosy Sandhu, a board certified physician in Internal Medicine, believes this also. Dr. Sandhu recently opened up Neem Medical Spa in Somerville, MA as an ultimate spa for "...time proven Neem based Ayurvedic wellness treatments."

Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, Director of Neurology at Wellspring Health, and a consultant to medical corporations, is another physician that clearly sees the benefits of neem. Dr. Chaudhary writes, "I consider it a super-herb. It addresses a wide range of health problems."

Dr. Chaudhary went on to say "the neem tree has offered relief to countless people over the ages. Its medicinal uses are only expanding as times goes by."

DISCLAIMER: All information contained here is for reference only. Check with your medical or holistic practitioner for advice on diagnosis,treatment or prevention of any health condition.

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