Prof. (Dr) R D Gupta
Because of a number of medicinal and agricultural uses of Neem or Nim tree (Azadirachta indica A juss) since ancient times, it is very often called “Villagers dispensary’’.
Neem is a medium sized tree with a clear bole of 3.5 to 7.0 m and girth of 2.0 to 2.5 m with dark grey coloured bark and moderately thick furrowson the outer surface. Leaves are compound which are dark green in colour. Leaflets are divided into two unequal parts by the midvein. The flowers appear from March to May. The one seeded fruits ripen from June to August. The seeds have short viability.
This evergreen tree is native of India and Mayanmar which existed from millionia and is a cousin of Mahogany. It grows naturally in the forests of Decean plateau and has been introduced in many states of India like UP, Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana, and Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir state. It also thrives well in black cotton soils under drier situations like MP, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. In Jammu region, isolated neem trees have been cultivated mostly in parts of Jammu and Kathua districts.
Medicinal values : In India, the neem tree has been revered as the village pharmacy as each and every part of this sacred tree has more or less some medicinal values. It has been used as traditional medicines in one or other form. In Indian subcontinent and African countries, neem twigs are used to clean teeth. These are also used to cure dandruff. Paste or fresh leaves is applied to cure chickpox/small pox. If taken internally enhances the immunity, cures the neuromuscular pains Neem tea is taken to reduce the fever caused by Malaria and Filaria.
The paste of fresh bark is used on boils and pimples. The powder of dry bark is used to control fleas as and ticks on pets. Neem oil is also applied on boils or ulcers. Its use is made to remove dandruff. Neem powder and neem oil can be used to check herpes.
Neem capsules are taken by diabetics as they alter the insulin requirement without affecting the blood glucose level. Neem contains two chemicals viz, Nimbin and Nimbidin which are anti inflammatory in action and relieve the itching and the reddening of the skin. They work as a great emollient by preventing moisture loss and restoring the protective barrier in the skin. They also serve as a strong analgesic or pain killer and provides instant relief from the discomfort experienced by the eczema.
Internal use of neem cures the hypertension, blood clots, heart irregularities and high cholesterol levels. It also reduces anxiety and emotional fluctuation, thus, stabilising the heartbeat rate.
Consume a decoction of tender neem leaves sweetened with honey to eliminate the toxins in the liver.
(The author is former Associate Dean cum Chief
Scientist Krishi Vigyan Kendra, SKUAST, Jammu)
Prof. (Dr) R D Gupta