Summary: Neem oil is derived from the Azadirachta Indica, or Neem tree, which grows throughout Southeastern Asia. The neem tree is renowned for its medical benefits, and the insecticidal properties of its extract.
Neem oil has been used by the natives of India for thousands of years to treat many kinds of skin conditions and as an insecticide or insect repellent. It is sometimes called “the village pharmacy” in parts of India because of the antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral qualities it possesses.
Neem oil can help kill infections, reduce swelling and pain, and facilitate injuries or skin rashes to heal faster. Many kinds of rheumatic disorders can be treated using neem oil because of these properties, as well as
cuts, cold sores, bruises, sprains, gout, lupus, hives, and eczema. Neem can help reduce fevers and is used in treating leprosy, malaria, and tuberculosis. Neem tea brewed from neem leaves is used as a diuretic and to treat ulcers. It even has been applied in medical massage and as a contraceptive. It is used in soaps, facial creams, shampoos, wrinkle reducers, and antiseptic toothbrushes. No wonder the neem tree is often called a miracle plant.
Azardirachtin is the chemical found in neem oil that has been the most extensively studied for its medical benefits. It is found in neem oil in concentrations between 300 parts per million (ppm) to 4500 ppm. The neem oil is extracted from neem seeds using a temperature regulated pressing method, or by using solvents. The quality of the neem seeds and the extraction process that is used will determine the quality of the neem oil produced. Cold pressing of neem seeds usually provides the best quality oil. Brand name products that contain neem oil range in their quality and concentration of Azardirachtin.
Neem oil is additionally useful as an insecticide and insect repellent. Neem oil can repel mosquitoes and gnats from humans, but can also be used to fend off whiteflies, aphids, scales, mites, Japanese beetles, and weevils, that feed on crops. The oil affects the insects' ability to molt or shed its skin preventing their exoskeleton from hardening. This keeps them from growing into adults and reproducing. It can also kill insect eggs or larvae that are actively feeding on a plant. Neem oil is even an effective treatment against lice on people and dogs.
Neem tree leaves or a light spray of oil can be added to stored foods to help prevent infestations of mealy bugs and other pantry pests.
Neem cakes are made from the neem seed leftovers after the oil has been extracted. Neem cakes mixed in soil assist plant growth by adding useful nutrients and insect repelling properties. Neem cakes kill parasitic nematodes and help earthworms to grow larger and be more numerous. Neem cakes can even help plants do a better job of absorbing nitrogen. The overall results of adding neem cakes to the soil are larger, healthier plants that are resistant to fungi and insects.
Perhaps the greatest thing about neem oil as a pesticide is that it is natural, biodegradable, and does not harm beneficial insets like butterflies, bees, and ladybugs. Neem oil is safer to use than most synthetic pesticides, and even has a pleasant, garlic-like smell. Few products on the market offer the effectiveness and environmentally friendliness of neem tree oil. It is very easy to use. All you have to do is mix one or two tablespoons of neem oil with a gallon of water and spray it all over an infected plant. Coat the undersides of the leaves, as well. The neem oil is best when applied at night to decrease sun damage.
Neem oil is a broad spectrum insecticide that has almost unlimited uses. With all the marvelous abilities that neem tree oil possesses, you might want to try it out for your next medical or insect related problem to see if a natural alternative can really work for you.
05 Apr 2009, 08:25