Neem oil is a vegetable oil pressed from the fruits and seeds of the neem (Azadirachta Indica), an evergreen tree which is endemic to the Indian subcontinent and has been introduced to many other areas in the tropics. It is the most important of the commercially available products of neem for organic farming and medicines.
Neem oil varies in color; it can be golden yellow, yellowish brown, reddish brown, dark brown, greenish brown, or bright red. It has a rather strong odor that is said to combine the odors of peanut and garlic .It is composed mainly of Triglycerides and contains many triterpenoid compounds, which are responsible for this bitter taste. It is hydrophobic in nature; in order to emulsify it in water for application purpose, it is formulated with surfactants.
The oil can be obtained through pressing (crushing) of the seed kernel both through cold pressing or through a process incorporating temperature controls 40 to 50 °C.
Benefits of Neem Oil
Combats Bed Bugs
The Environmental Protection Agency has reported that neem oil, when combined with certain approved agents, can be safe and effective against bed bugs both at home and in commercial environments. Performance trials conducted show that neem oil helps control bed bug adults.
Neem oil makes for a great natural mosquito repellent that is safe to use. As reported in the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, when 2 percent neem oil was mixed with Coconut oil, then applied then applied to the exposed body parts of human volunteers, it provided complete protection for approximately 12 hours from the bites of all anopheline species. They claim that the application of neem oil is safe and can even be used for protection from malaria in endemic countries.
Spraying neem oil in mosquito infested areas can stop mosquito breeding. Which is a perfect way to keep dengue causing mosquitoes away.
Skin Infections in Animals
Adding neem oil to the pet shampoo keeps lice, bugs and fleas away from the animals. It also keeps skin infections in animals at bay.
Prevents Mosquito Breeding
Neem oil restricts the grounds for mosquito breeding by repelling them with its odor and effect. Adding neem oil to water containers in mosquito-infested areas discourage mosquitoes from breeding in that area.
Get Rid of Hair and Body Lice
This problem is not as common as it used to be, nevertheless, lice infestation is occasionally seen among school children. If your child comes home with head lice, refrain from using commercial products which may contain highly toxic chemical insecticides. Neem oil is an excellent insecticide; it can get rid of lice from the hair and the body, nit and all.
Warm 2 tablespoons of neem oil and apply it on the hair. Tie a scarf or towel over the head and leave the oil on overnight. The next day, you may be able to spot the carcasses of dead lice on the scarf/towel. Wash the hair thoroughly with an herbal shampoo. If itching persists, repeat the process.
Condition Dry Skin
Neem oil is an excellent skin conditioner, particularly for dry skin which is most commonly found on the face, hands and the feet because they are the most exposed and most frequently washed parts of the body. Being hydrophobic in nature, neem oil does not mix with water, so it locks in moisture when applied in a thin layer over the skin. Neem oil also resists getting washed off when we wash our hands and face to get rid of dust and grime.
Because of its potency, application of neem oil at full strength can irritate skin and may also be quite offensive due to its pungent odor. Instead, try diluting neem with coconut oil and mix in a few drops of lemon or lavender essential oil to make it more tolerable on the skin as well as the olfactory sense.
Acne may be an outcome of the overproduction of sebum by the skin glands under the influence of reproductive hormones, but it usually becomes a bigger problem with bacterial proliferation inside the hair follicles. Even at very low concentrations, regular use of neem oil can effectively inhibit bacterial growth and is a much safer alternative to antibacterial face washes, lotions and creams which often contain toxic chemicals.
Neem oil is anti-inflammatory and can help to reduce the redness, pain and itching associated with acne. The high fatty acid content of the oil also helps to heal skin damaged by acne and reduce the potential for scarring or pitting.
To use neem oil for acne control, warm a teaspoonful of coconut oil or olive oil and mix in 10 drops of organic cold pressed neem oil Apply on the face and wash it off after an hour, or leave it overnight, depending on your tolerance level.
Reduce Skin Pigmentation
Overproduction of melanin in some areas of the skin can mar the complexion. With regular use, neem oil can lighten areas of hyper pigmentation by down regulating melanin production.
Spot application with an ear bud dipped in the oil may be sufficient for small areas. Check for sensitivity on your inner arm area before using full strength oil on affected areas on the face or neck.
Pest Control inside the Home
Insect pests in the house may range from ants to cockroaches, but if you are reluctant to use systemic poisons in the house, neem oil can come to your aid. Dip cotton balls in neem oil and wipe around doors, windows and other entry points to keep the pests away from your home. A few cotton balls dipped in the oil can be kept in kitchen cabinets, cupboards and drawers to repel them.
It is interesting to note that, while neem oil is highly toxic to insects, it does not have a similar effect in humans. The unique mechanism of action of this biological insecticide is responsible for this selectivity. Unlike many insecticides, neem oil does not kill the insects on contact. On the contrary, it mimics the hormones that control their growth and development, preventing molting, and thus disrupting their well-orchestrated metamorphic cycle. Neem oil also repels insects, reducing their feeding and starving them to death. It has a somewhat similar effect on intestinal worms too.
Treat Nail Infections
Nail infections can be very painful; they can be highly annoying too because we are using our hands and feet all the time. When you approach a doctor with a nail infection, a test might be performed to find out if the infection is bacterial or fungal before prescribing either an antibiotic or antifungal medication. Sometimes, your doctor may recommend the removal of the affected nail to facilitate quicker healing. With neem oil, you might just be able to skip these steps.
Place one or two drops of neem oil on the affected nail and allow it to soak in. Repeat the application 2-3 times a day and continue until the infection is completely resolved. It may take anything from 5 days to a week, but it is totally worth taking this natural course.
Neem oil is a common ingredient in many organic anti dandruff shampoo because of its proven efficacy in controlling this condition. Regular application of neem can help to reduce scalp dryness and itching which may be contributing to the dandruff problem. Neem will also help to prevent secondary bacterial and fungal infection which may complicate or worsen scalp conditions like dandruff.