Neem Leaves, Uses and How to Grow
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Paresh Mehta.
Posted on: January 22, 2002

I came across the herb "Neem leaves" (Azadirachta indica – latin name). I am looking for more details and its uses and how to grow. If you can throw some light on that, it would be helpful.

Neem is one of the world’s great resource trees. It grows throughout south Asia and Africa, and most parts of the plant are useful to man. The most commonly used part is the seed, from which is extracted an oil that is now widely used for its insecticidal and antibacterial properties. It is frequently used in commercial body care products such as cosmetics, toothpaste, shampoos, etc.

The leaves are also medicinal as they contain many of the same compounds found in the seeds, only in lower concentration. They are used in Ayurvedic herbal medicine and increasingly are being used in the West.

Even the wood, branch twigs and spent seed meal are useful to man. The twigs are used as toothbrushes in rural India and Africa; they are excellent for mouth care because chemicals in the twigs kill bacteria and prevent gum disease. The spent seedmeal (from processing to extract the oil) is useful as fertilizer.

Richters carries two excellent books on neem: "Neem: A Tree for Solving Global Problems" and "Neem, the Ultimate Herb".

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