Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ingredient Spotlight: Neem oil

If you don't know anything about Neem oil, I can assure you that the first time you encounter the oil it will make a strong impression. Strong in the sense that it has a very powerful odor! Boy does this oil stink! If you can get past the smell though, Neem has some wonderful properties and has been used in Ayurvedic (Indian) medicine for over 2000 years! In India, the tree is often referred to as the "Sacred Tree" and the "Panacea for all diseases". Obviously, this tree has made a huge impact on their culture. Neem oil is a liquid vegetable oil that is pressed from the fruit and seeds of the Neem tree (Azadirachta indica) which is originally from India.

Neem tree with fruit.

Neem oil or a tea made from the leaves can be drunk, but it has a bitter taste, which is often a signal of medicinal properties. In Ayurvedic medicine, Neem is used as a blood purifier and is also heavily used to treat skin disease and irritations, fever. Small twigs were traditionally used to clean teeth like a toothbrush.

Neem is also known to be an all natural pesticide and can be simply sprayed on plants that need protection from pests, but is not harmful to mammals, birds, earthworms, and if not sprayed directly on their food source, butterflies, honeybees, and ladybugs.

I use Neem oil in my sensitive skin soap that I have specifically formulated to be gentle irritated skin. This soap works great for me when I have eczema flair-ups.

Have you encountered Neem oil?  What do you think of it?