Neem (Azadirachta indica)


Neem has a long history of use in India. The leaf and bark extracts were recommended by herbal practitioners for gastrointestinal upsets, skin ulcers, infections and malaria. Neem twigs were used regularly as toothbrushes, and the leaf gel was used to fight periodontal disease (inflammatory disease of the gum).
The extracts from neem often have a pungent smell similar to garlic. This is because they contain sulfurous compounds. Neem has been reported to reduce plaque formation, act as a mosquito repellent, treat psoriasis vulgaris (chronic skin disease with reddened lesions covered by silvery scales) and aid in the healing of gastroduodenal ulcers. However, there is currently insufficient evidence to recommend for or against these uses. In the United States, neem is used mainly for its antibacterial, antifungal, insect repellant, contraceptive, and hypothetical "life extension" qualities.

Related Terms

Azadirachta indica, Azadirachta indica ADR, Azadirachta indica A. juss, azadirachtin, azadirachtin A, bead tree, beta-sitosterol, Bioneem™, dogonyaro, holy tree, immobile, Indian lilac, isomeldenin, limonoids, margosa, margosa oil, Meliaceae (family), Neemix™, neem flowers, neem-based pesticide, neem kernel powder (NP), neem leaf alcoholic extract (NLE), neem oil, neem seed kernel, neem seed oil, Nim, NIM-76, nimba, nimbandiol, nimbin, nimbinene, nimocinol, Persian lilac, Praneem polyherbal cream, Pride of China, quercetin, village of pharmacy.

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Dental plaque (oral bacteria) (Grade: C)
Neem has been found to have anti-plaque properties and antimicrobial activity against oral pathogens. Comparisons of neem to the prescription drug chlorhexidine have reported significant results. Additional study is needed in this area to draw a firm recommendation.
Mosquito repellent (Grade: C)
Neem oil and neem cream have showed protective effects against mosquito bites from various species. Further research is necessary before a conclusion can be reached.
Psoriasis vulgaris (Grade: C)
Limited human data is available, and early study suggests no benefit. Therefore, there is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against the use of neem for the treatment of psoriasis vulgaris (chronic skin disease).
Ulcers (gastroduodenal) (Grade: C)
Protective and healing effects on gastroduodenal ulcers have been reported in a preliminary human study. However, comparisons to other agents used for this purpose such as proton pump inhibitors or H2-antagonsits have not been conducted. Therefore, there is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against the use of neem for gastroduodenal ulcers.