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What is Neem Leaf Extract?

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  • Written By: Vanessa Harvey
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 02 December 2016
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Neem leaf extract is a very highly concentrated liquid form of the leaves of the herb neem, and it is approximately 10 times more potent than a tincture. An infusion, decoction or tincture technically also is a form of an extract, but because of the much milder strength and shorter storage life of an infusion and a decoction, they seldom are referred to as extracts. If neem leaf, however, is allowed to steep in boiling hot water, a mild aqueous neem leaf extract is achieved. The same can be said if alcohol, glycerin or some other solvent is employed to extract the therapeutic properties of this herb.

Commercially prepared neem extract might involve methods that use high pressure, evaporation by heat or a process known as cold percolation. Homemade extracts generally are prepared with a natural grain alcohol. They tend to be less potent than their commercial counterparts.

The Latin name for neem is Azadirachta indica, and its name in Sanskrit is nimba. Sanskrit is an ancient language of India, one of the lands to which the tree is native. The plant also grows in other parts of southern Asia and is cultivated in arid regions of Africa, the Middle East, Central and South America, Hawaii and southern Florida in the United States.

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Some form of neem leaf extract has been used through the centuries with positive results. For example, the young and tender twigs of the tree have been employed as "chewing sticks" that served as primitive toothbrushes in India. This probably encouraged the addition of neem leaf extract to formulations for dentifrice that sometimes are called neem toothpaste.

Some cases of dental diseases such as gingivitis and mild mouth infections have been treated successfully with neem leaf extract or products containing the extract, a success usually attributed to the antiviral and antimicrobial properties of neem. Other neem leaf extract benefits are because of the antiseptic and antibacterial properties of the herb, making it useful as an active ingredient in all natural herbal beauty products such as neem shampoo or soap.

Itching of the scalp and head lice are two conditions known to respond very well to the extract. Skin diseases, ulcers and even leprosy are still externally treated with neem in many parts of the world because of the cleansing and healing action that this all-natural medicine has on wounds and open sores. The herb, however, should not be relied upon to cure leprosy.

Neem leaf extract is quite potent, so it can be dangerous if taken internally for periods longer than two consecutive weeks or in high dosages. There have been unconfirmed reports of people in Africa suffering kidney damage from the prolonged internal use of neem to treat malaria. The reputation of being one of the world's most effective mosquito repellants, however, has kept neem on the list of all-natural agents employed in the fight against deadly diseases such as malaria that are spread by mosquitoes.

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ddljohn
Post 3

@discographer-- I've experienced a mild side effect from neem leaf extract, just some upset stomach. I take it to reduce my blood sugar because I have diabetes. I don't use it all the time. I use it when my blood sugar levels are running on the higher end despite my medications and diet. Sometimes stress causes my readings to go up. Neem leaf extract helps lower it in this situations.

Although I do recommend neem, I don't think it's right to use it without checking with a doctor first. Especially diabetics must check with their doctor. Sudden decreases in blood sugar are just as dangerous as high sugar levels for diabetics. So all the medications and supplements must be used under the supervision of a doctor.

discographer
Post 2

@ysmina-- You're absolutely right. I suffer from adult acne and a friend suggested neem leaf extract. Soon after I started taking this supplement, my face stared clearing up. I'm almost entirely acne free now. I just have a few spots, which is really nothing compared to how my skin was like before.

Neem leaf extract is amazing. I honestly did not think that it would work but now that it has, I intend to continue using it. I haven't experienced side effects either, which is great. I only use the recommended dose though because I believe that in high doses, even all natural things can be harmful. I recommend neem leaf extract to others with acne. Give it a try, I hope it works for others as well.

ysmina
Post 1

It's a tradition in Islam to use neem twigs to brush the teeth. I had always wondered how it is possible to clean the teeth with a twig. But when the twig is opened up, there are basically bristles inside. It seriously looks like a toothbrush. Neem has antibacterial and antiviral properties so it prevents cavities when used this way. I'd assume that taking neem leaf extract would have a similar affect on bacteria and viruses in the body.

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