The Health Benefits and Uses of Neem Oil

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The Health Benefits and Uses of Neem Oil

Neem oil is widely used in skin and hair care products, as an insect repellent, in dental care to treat gum infections and in gardens as a natural insecticide. In India, it is used for preparing cosmetic products and in Ayurvedic medicine it is used to reduce pain and swelling of arthritis and to treat of a wide range of skin conditions (due to its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties).


What is Neem Oil?

Neem oil is obtained from the seed kernels of neem tree, a type of evergreen tree that is endemic to the Indian subcontinent and has been introduced to many other areas in the sub-tropics and tropics.

Neem oil varies in color between yellow and brown and has an odor similar to garlic. Neem oil is mainly composed of triglycerides and steroids, with its main active ingredient being called azadirachtin1.

Here are some of the best neem oil uses.

Neem Oil for Skin

Neem oil can be extremely beneficial for your kin – it is high in vitamin E and fatty acids that penetrate the outer layers of skin. Applying neem oil to your skin can help to heal dry and damaged skin.

It is also high in antioxidants that protect skin from UV damage which is one of the causes for wrinkles and premature aging of your skin.

Neem oil contains carotenoids, a type of antioxidant that combats free radical damage in the skin for a healthy appearance.

Research published by the Asian Journal of Plant Science and Research stated that neem oil is high in triglycerides, vitamin E, essential fatty acids and calcium that penetrate deep into the skin2.

Neem oil fights signs of aging

Neem oil contains vitamin E and essential fatty acids heal dry skin and promote healthy skin. I have already mentioned how vitamin E benefits your skin in a previous article. Vitamin E can help to promote healing of scars and wrinkles while reducing their appearance. It improves your skin’s elasticity and leaves the skin feeling soft, supple and hydrated.

Neem oil also stimulates the production of collagen, which is needed for younger looking skin. Our skin becomes damaged when it is exposed to harsh environmental toxins and the sun’s UV rays. It also becomes damaged due to poor diet and stress. Collagen is needed to create new, healthy cells that take the place of damaged ones.

Neem oil is antifungal

Neem oil may also be used to naturally relieve eczema symptoms such as dry, itchy and red skin, as well as other skin conditions such as athlete’s foot, ringworm, vaginal infections and scabies.1

If you suffer from eczema, you can also use one of my other top natural oils for eczema.

Neem oil is anti-inflammatory

Neem oil has anti-inflammatory properties. It contains compounds called nimbin and nimbidin that reduce swelling and redness. Quercetin is another anti-inflammatory compound found in neem oil that helps fight inflammation by inhibiting the production and release of histamine that cause itching and inflammation.

Neem oil is anti-bacterial

Neem oil contains powerful antibacterial properties that may help treat acne. It is also commonly uses in antiseptic soaps to kill germs on the skin.

Neem oil can soothe and heal your skin

The anti-inflammatory properties of Neem oil can soothe irritation and inflammation associated with skin conditions such as acne while also removing bacteria from the skin.

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The high fatty acid and vitamin E content in neem oil also helps remove scars associated with acne. Lastly, its anti-inflammatory properties reduce redness and swelling associated with irritated acne conditions.

Homemade neem oil acne treatment

It is easy to make your own homemade neem oil acne treatment. To avoid skin irritation, neem oil should always be diluted with a carrier oil such as olive oil or coconut oil.

It’s a good idea to perform a skin patch test on a small area of skin to make sure there is no sensitivity or reaction to the oils in this recipe.

  1. Mix few drops of neem oil with a teaspoon of olive or coconut oil.
  2. Use a cotton ball to apply the mixture to breakouts as spot treatment.
  3. Leave on until dry or overnight.
  4. Rinse with water and pat dry.

Repeat regularly to get rid of acne. You can also experiment with other oils for acne.

Neem Oil for Hair and Scalp

Neem oil may help treat scalp conditions such as dandruff while stimulating hair growth because of its antimicrobial properties. Rubbing neem oil into your scalp may help promote the growth of healthy hair by stimulating blood circulation.

Scalp conditions that can cause hair loss include a dry and scaly scalp, dandruff, psoriasis and eczema which can cause inflammation on the scalp and damage the hair roots. Neem helps to treat these conditions and promote healthy hair growth.

It also stimulates blood flow to the skin and nourishes the scalp and hair roots. Being high in essential fatty acids and vitamin E helps to both soothe and heal the scalp just like it does for other parts of skin.

You can buy herbal shampoos, conditioners or hair masks with neem oil to support hair health, or you can add a few drops of neem oil to shampoos or conditioners for some extra therapeutic benefits. You can also make your own neem oil hair treatment at home that contains olive oil and coconut oil – these oils are in my list of the top natural oils for your hair.

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  • Add a few drops of neem oil to two tablespoons of olive, almond or coconut oil (or other carrier oil).
  • Massage into your scalp.
  • Cover your head with a towel and let the mixture sit for 30 minutes before washing out.

Neem Oil for Dental Care

I wrote in the past on how to treat gum infection (gingivitis) naturally. Gingivitis is an extremely common disease that can lead to receding gums. Chronic gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, which is even more severe than gingivitis and it can lead to teeth loss.

The antibacterial properties of neem oil can be used to treat infected gums.

Mix diluted neem oil with coconut oil, which also has antibacterial properties, and apply to the infected area.

Studies have shown that mouthwashes containing neem oil can significantly inhibit the growth of the bacteria Streptococcus mutans in the mouth, which may reduce the risk of gum disease and plaque. 5,6,7 Neem oil is also commonly added to natural toothpastes to improve oral health due to its antimicrobial properties.

Here is how to make your own neem oil mouthwash:

Ingredients:

  • Half a cup of water
  • One teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of neem oil
  • One drop of tea tree oil
  • One drop of peppermint oil

Mix all the ingredients well and then use it as a mouthwash. Do not swallow.

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Neem Oil as a Bug Repellent

A research published in the Journal of Insect Science suggested that preparations made from parts of the neem tree could be an alternative method for repelling mosquitoes3. And indeed neem oil is often used as a natural insect repellent that may also be more effective, environmentally friendly and less expensive than many commercial brands. It is also one of my top 10 natural ways to repel mosquitoes.

Neem has been shown to ward off sand flies and mosquitoes, aiding in control of the spread of diseases such as malaria4. It can be used to treat lice and termites. Because neem is very inexpensive, it can also be used to reduce harvest losses in developing countries due to insects.

Neem Oil for Plants

Neem oil is used in organic farming as a natural insecticide. But neem oil is not really a knock down, kill-on-contact insecticide like the chemical poisons and it must be ingested by the bugs to be effective. If bugs don’t eat your plants, they don’t get hurt.

The active ingredient in neem oil that keeps bugs away is azadirachtin, which can be used to keep bugs from destroying plants. Although there are other compounds in neem oil that help protect plants from bugs, azadirachtin is 90 percent responsible for its insecticide benefits.

Azadirachtin works to reduce pest populations by inhibiting the growth development of their larva. It also deters feeding, mating and egg laying. It also has antifungal properties to help protect plants.

Many commercial insecticides contain a refined extract of neem oil, but this is alongside many other dubious ingredients that are harmful to the planet. You can use neem oil for your plants and here is a recipe for a natural insecticide:

  • 2 tablespoons of neem oil with one tablespoon of castile soap.
  • Add water as needed in a spray bottle and shake well.
  • Spray on plants as needed.

You can find more ideas for natural garden pesticides in my previous article.

Neem Oil – Precautions

Neem oil is considered safe as long as you only use it externally. Do not use any neem containing products when you are pregnant or trying to conceive. When applying diluted neem oil in a carrier oil, it’s a good idea to perform a skin patch test on a small area of skin to make sure there is no sensitivity/reaction to the oil.

Read these related articles:
How to Use Sweet Almond Oil for a Great Hair, Skin and Health
How to Use Rosehip Oil for Your Face, Skin and Hair
Health Benefits and Uses of Niaouli Essential Oil

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