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What Are the Uses of Neem in Medicine?

Neem can help relieve itching caused by chicken pox.
The neem tree was likely first grown in India.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2014
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Neem is a tree grown probably first grown in India. For centuries, its bark has been an effective toothbrush, because, anecdotally, it has been shown to decrease dental decay and to have antiseptic properties. Most medicinal claims regarding its use have not been subject to double blind clinical trials, so all possible benefits of neem should be considered as conjecture.

Portions of the neem tree have been used as an anti-fungal, to remove lice, as a gel to prevent pregnancy, and in oral form to reduce fertility in men. The oil has been added to toothpastes to prevent gum disease and tooth decay. It is also thought to provide some relief to people who suffer from psoriasis, and it may be an effective insecticide.

Others claim that neem may reduce cholesterol, or help rid the body of bladder stones. It also is considered helpful to relieve itching caused by chicken pox or measles. Others might use its extracts to treat ear infections, or pinkeye. Some suggest using neem to treat piles or fistula caused after childbirth, but such used is not recommended.

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Use of neem is contraindicated in pregnant women or nursing women, and it should not be used on children. Extracts from the tree have been linked to extreme allergic reactions in children that have caused death, so any products containing neem should be kept far away from children. They should avoid toothpaste containing extracts or oils as well, since they are more likely to swallow the paste.

People may use neem oil, seeds, or leaves, depending upon their intended purpose. Eating the seeds in large amounts would poison someone, and they can cause death. Some people prepare cooked leaves, which are considered to be good for intestinal health, but these have a markedly bitter taste and are not universally enjoyed.

Neem can interact with prescription and over-the-counter medications. Its use should always be discussed with a healthcare professional. Neem may ultimately prove a useful medicine, but more studies need to be performed to understand safe dosage and possible drug interactions. As it stands now, unless guided by a medical professional, most people should probably avoid using products from this tree.

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serenesurface
Post 2

Is it true that neem can be used to treat acne and can even cure malaria?

I was looking for natural products to use on my acne and found out that neem paste can be applied to reduce pimples and that neem tablets help prevent acne. Is this true?

I also read that in countries where there is widespread malaria, they boil neem root and drink it. Do they also use neem in malaria medications in the West then?

My sources of information are not too dependable but I really want to know if these benefits of neem are proven to work.

bear78
Post 1

Just a few days ago, I read a news article about a year and a half old boy who died due to neem. His parents had given it to him to wean him off of breast milk. The doctors suspect that he died from strychnine poisoning. That substance is also used as a pesticide to kill rodents and they have found it in a lot of neem oil in India!

I've read that there have been many other child deaths due to neem. I'm just really sad about this. I don't understand parents who follow what their parents and grandparents have done to treat health issues when medicine has progressed so much.

Clearly neem oil has benefits and can be used for certain ailments, in specific ways and limited doses. But there are also people who are trying to make money out there and are selling products that are not safe. Hopefully these deaths will be an example for families who use medicinal substances so haphazardly.

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