Neem oil often renamed as ‘the village pharmacy’ is a vegetable oil that has been in use for over 5000 years. In the modern era, most of us are opting for natural plant oils and neem oil products range from soaps, hand creams, body creams, lotions, insecticides, fungicides, and hair products.
Neem is a native Indian plant that thrives well in arid and semi-arid conditions. Its resilience and adaptability have seen it grow successfully in Bangladesh, Nepal, West and Central Africa, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Australia.
Table of Contents
- What is Neem Oil?
- Benefits of Neem Oil
- Benefits to the skin
- Benefits to the Hair
- Health benefits of Neem Oil
- How to Use Neem Oil With Carrier Oil
- Side Effects of Neem Oil
- Common FAQs
What is Neem Oil?
Neem oil is a natural substance extracted from the seeds of [Azadirachia indica] neem tree, a member of the mahogany family. Unlike most plant oils, neem oil is not used for cooking purposes. The aroma and taste is anything but pleasing. To be precise neem oil tastes more like a mixture of peanut and garlic. Well, you get it. Pure neem oil is not everyone’s cup of coffee in terms of taste and odor but this hasn’t slowed down its use and its popularity seems to be increasing each day.
Everything you Need to Know about Neem Oil
Neem tree is an evergreen indigenous plant valued as a medicinal plant, insecticide, and source of timber. The plant has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antihistamine, antipyretic, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.
Nothing goes to waste in a neem tree. Twigs are used as brushes, the leaves are boiled in water to treat the skin and for medicinal purposes, the flowers can be used for aromatherapy, and last but not least neem oil is extracted from the seeds.
A fully grown neem tree can reach heights of 15-30 meters. The leaves are rounded and every green. Usually, neem is grown from the seeds but can also be propagated from root suckers and cuttings. The plant is resilient to heat and can live for up to 200 years.
How is Neem Oil Extracted
By now, we all know that neem oil is extracted from the seeds of the neem tree. Since that is out of the way, how is neem oil extracted from the seeds?
Neem oil can be extracted in several ways but cold pressing is recommended since it yields high-quality virgin neem oil and retains all the active ingredients.
How is it done?
The seeds are removed from the pulp then left to dry. Husks are then removed from the dry seeds to obtain kernels. It is these kernels that are cold-pressed to yield neem oil. The color and odor of the final product vary depending on the quality. It can be anything from golden yellow (pure neem oil), yellowish-brown, and reddish-brown, and dark brown. It has a strong odor that is not all that pleasing; debatably it has a pungent smell resembling a mixture of garlic and peanut.
Solvent extraction and steam distillation processes can also extract neem oil but the quality will be relatively low. In particular solvent extraction is popular in soap manufacturing.
Benefits of Neem Oil
Neem oil has tons of benefits and more studies are underway to help discover the full potential of the oil. The benefits are diversified cutting across health, skin, hair, and pest control.
1. Benefits to the Skin
Human beings judge people based on their appearance. How you dress, how you groom yourself, how you smell, the color of your eyes, do you work out? Do you take time to groom your hair? The skin is not only the largest organ of the body but also plays a crucial role in complementing your overall appearance.
No matter how well-groomed you are, if your skin is dry, covered with pimples, sunburns, and black spots; you will be perceived as not being attractive. It is for a fact that we all want to look good. Well, definitely not for the attention but our confidence.
If you want natural, healthy, glowing skin, try purchasing natural cosmetic products. In particular neem oil has a proven track record of benefits to the skin. What are some of these benefits.
i. Treats Dry Skin
Neem oil has vitamin E and essential fatty acids all of which are crucial in fighting skin dryness. The oil is light hence penetrates deeply into the skin healing cracks that result from dry skin.
As if that is not enough, neem oil creates a thin barrier on the skin that helps lock in moisture. By restoring the protective layer of the skin prevents moisture loss.
ii. Treats Acne
Acnes are annoying and more often than not tend to pop up just before a big occasion. We all want soft acne-free skin but this is easily said than done.
Neem oil has antiseptic, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties that help treat acne. The oil serves as both a short-term and long-term remedy for acne. Better than acne creams and face cleansers that might end up irritating the skin even more.
Can you apply pure neem oil on your skin? Pure neem oil is highly concentrated and might have negative effects on sensitive skin. As a recommendation dilute the oil or simply purchase a product with neem oil as the major ingredient. Alternatively, you can carry out a patch test by applying pure neem oil on your arm, to test how your skin reacts to the oil before you can apply it to your face.
iii. Prevents Premature Skin Aging
There is no permanent remedy to skin aging. At some point, that skin will sag as no matter what you do. Neem oil has been found to reduce premature skin aging by delaying the onset of wrinkles and sagging of the skin.
Neem boosts the production of collagen and elastin, the two hormones that help retain the shape and structure of the skin. When the levels of these hormones drop the skin will look deflated leading to premature development of wrinkles.
Neem oil also contains carotenoids a compound effective in combating the effects of free radicals that cause skin aging.
iv. Tones the Skin
When applied on the skin, neem oil helps unclog pores and balance the overall oil production on the skin acting as an effective toner. Studies have also found the oil effective in slowing down melanin production. Is this a good thing? To some extent yes, high levels of melanin lead to pigments on the skin. Neem oil will clear the skin making it even-toned.
2. Benefits to hair
If you buy natural hair products and check the ingredients, you might have noticed that quite a number of the products have neem oil as the major ingredient. Here are some of the possible benefits of neem oil to your hair:
At some point, we have all had dandruff. And, we can all agree that they are annoying and at times embarrassing. There are dozens of products to treat dandruff some of which are only good on paper but never work.
The primary cause of dandruffs is fungi. Neem oil has anti fungal properties making it effective in fighting and preventing dandruff. It is also useful in treating dermatitis and psoriasis; scalp infections that cause dandruff.
Neem oil for dandruff is available in form of shampoo, leave-in conditioner, and hair food.
ii. Head Lice
Head lice are insects that spend their entire lives on the human scalp feeding exclusively on human blood. Human beings are the only host of these parasites. scared? You should be. Head louse multiply very fast and only a few products are effective in killing these blood-sucking parasites, their eggs and larvae.
According to studies, neem oil is known to effectively head lice with no side effects. The oil has azadirachtin a compound that kills head lice and disrupts the life cycle. A good product should kill all the eggs, larvae, and head lice within 10 minutes of application.
The pungent, unpleasant odor of neem oil will repeal the lice and other parasites from your hair.
iii. Promotes Hair Growth
Neem oil has a reputation to counter thinning hair resulting from pollution, stress, and medication.
When applied on the scalp, neem oil has regeneration properties that support healthy cell division and stimulate hair follicle growth. Regular application promotes, thicker, stronger, and more luxurious hair growth
Studies have also found neem oil to treat scalp infections such as psoriasis that has a likelihood to cause permanent hair loss.
iv. Prevents Premature Graying
Premature hair graying is largely caused by hormonal imbalances. Regular application of dye can also make the hair turn gray prematurely.
Under normal circumstances, grey hair is associated with old age but this is not the case anymore. Regular application of neem oil can help prevent premature graying. It is important to note that, neem oil will only delay and prevent graying.
Neem oil will have no effect on hair that is already gray due to age.
3. health Benefits of Neem oil
Health is a crucial aspect of human life and we should never do anything to jeopardize it.
How does neem oil impact our overall health?
i. Oral Care
Neem oil has been used for oral care for thousands of years. Why is it so effective? Neem oil has antimicrobial properties that make it effective in preventing and treating gum diseases and gingivitis.
The antibacterial property helps kill mouth bacteria that cause plaques and cavities. Neem oil is also effective in preventing tooth decay and cancer sores.
More studies are underway to verify the claims that neem oil and neem extracts have anti-cancer potential and would be effective in cancer therapy.
Current findings indicate that neem oil has the potential to slow down the growth of cancer cells. Is this finally a breakthrough to cancer treatment? Time will tell.
iii. Stimulates Appetite
Obesity is slowly growing to be a pandemic. In most developed countries nearly a quarter of the population is overweight. And, we all know how shedding extra pounds is not as easy as advertised.
Whereas there are people who need to shed off extra pounds, there are those you can do with gaining some weight but lack appetite. Neem oil can be prescribed for people with an extended illness, injury, surgery, nausea since it helps stimulate appetite.
iv. Fights Mosquitos and Bugs
Neem oil is a natural insecticide and mosquito repellant. As we all know, malaria is spread by mosquitoes. Active ingredients in neem oil help control and kill mosquitoes. Unlike other chemical insecticides, neem oil is all-natural has no harmful effects on the environment.
Ever had an encounter with bed bugs? Then you can attest to the fact that bed bugs are the hardest urban pests to manage. Neem oil is effective against bugs both at home and in commercial environments.
v. Natural Contraceptives
Not sure if this is a health benefit but neem oil has proven the ability to prevent pregnancy in women. The oil has been used as effective birth control for ages. How does this work? By killing sperms! It can work before and after sex.
How to Use Neem Oil with Career Oil
Pure concentrated neem oil can impact negatively on sensitive skin. The best way to prepare neem oil is by diluting it with a carrier oil of your choice. For one ounce of oil put 12 drops of neem oil.
You can also add neem oil to your shampoo and leave-in conditioner.
Side Effects of Neem Oil
- Allergic reaction – some people, especially those with sensitive skin might experience serious side effects such as swelling, redness, itching, and irritation.
- Not suitable for pregnant women- we have discussed neem oil as a contraceptive. Using neem oil during pregnancy can cause miscarriage.
- Hypoglycemia- Neem oil is beneficial for people with diabetes. It can however have fatal consequences, especially when used with low blood pressure meds. The blood sugar might fall to dangerously low levels.
- Low sperm count- though unverified and more research is needed to verify the claim, neem oil can lower sperm count in men.
- Is Neem oil safe? – Yes. Neem oil is non-toxic. It is safe to use in humans, plants, and pets.
- Can you use neem oil on children?- No, experts advise against using been oil on children and infants.
- How often should you apply neem oil? At least twice a day, ideally overnight.
Is neem oil good for you? Most probably! Just be cautious on the side effects and all should be good. The demand for natural products is rising and neem oil is slowly cementing its legacy as the top natural plant oil in the market.