Neem leaf is quite possibly one of the most bitter herbs I have come across in my experience with Ayurvedic herbology. In fact, just the smell of this herb will leave you with a bitter taste in the mouth. Neem is a powerful medicine in Ayurveda and has a wide range of health benefits including reducing any inflammation in the body (skin, joint, gut), cleansing and strengthening the liver, healing wounds, balancing blood sugar, reducing adipose tissue, increasing the metabolism, killing parasites (including Candida) and beautifying the complexion.
According to Ayurveda, it is essential for our health to get all 6 tastes into the diet each day. The bitter taste (and therefore Neem) is very reducing to both Kapha and Pitta dosha and is said to be cooling, cleansing, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory in action. Sadly, in America, our standard diet is highly lacking in the bitter taste. Therefore Neem and other bitter herbs can be a great way to get this healing taste on a daily basis. If you would like to get more bitter substances in your diet, some other great foods that contain the bitter taste include bitter greens (kale, collards), cacao nibs, extremely dark chocolate, bitter melon (an Indian vegetable), bitter herbal teas (nettles, alfalfa, raspberry leaf), Tikta Ghrita (bitter ghee) and bitter spices (turmeric, mustard seed, fenugreek, cumin).
Although Neem is an incredibly healing herb, it can also be dangerous if it is used in the improper context or in improper dosages. In general, Neem is quite Vata provoking and should not be used by those with a Vata imbalance (anxiety, insomnia, dry skin, constipation). Neem is also so potent, it should only be used in small amounts, preferably in a balancing herbal formula, as opposed to taking it solely by itself.
Health Benefits of Neem
- Blood cleanser
- Cleanses and strengthens the liver
- Balances hormones
- Clears the complexion, beneficial in acne
- Reduces excessive heat in the body
- Relieves arthritis (inflammatory type)
- Kills parasites
- Reduces Candida overgrowth
- Clears congestion in the lungs
- Reduces sinus infection
- Heals urinary tract infections
- Reduces fever
- Reduces high blood sugar, heals the pancreas
- Heals infection
- Heals wounds
- Benefits skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, itching and rash
- Reduces sperm count
- Reduces menorrhagia (excessive menstrual bleeding)
- Reduces inflammation in the uterus
- Relieves diarrhea
- Useful as a mouthwash
- Benefits eye disorders, especially when related with inflammation or heat
How to Use Neem
1. For liver health:
Mix 1/8 tsp of neem and 1/8 tsp of turmeric with 1 Tbsp of Aloe vera juice and 1/2 cup of water. Take this 3 times daily.
2. For clear skin:
Make a paste out of neem powder and organic aloe vera. Apply to the face and leave on for 15 minutes. Perform this at least 3 times a week. Simultaneously, take 1 tsp of Tikta Ghrita (Bitter Ghee) each morning on an empty stomach for best results.
3. For eczema and psoriasis:
Use a neem-infused coconut oil to apply to the effected areas. Apply nightly and leave on until morning. Try my neem infused Pitta Oil. Simultaneously, take 1 tsp of Tikta Ghrita (Bitter Ghee) each morning on an empty stomach for best results.
4. For oral health:
For a natural, homemade mouthwash, take 4 tbsp of Neem herbal extract, add 5-10 drops of tea tee oil and 2 cups of purified water. Each morning and night, take a small amount into the mouth and swish for 3 minutes. Do not swallow this mixture!