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Uses of Neem Leaf

By Tiffany Adams

Neem is a mainstay of traditional Indian ayurvedic and homeopathic medicine and has been used to treat heart disease, leprosy and parasites. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database states that preliminary research indicates that neem has more than 135 compounds linked to fighting inflammation, fever, bacteria and even high blood sugar. Neem is approved for use as a pesticide in the US by the Environmental Protection Agency. Although neem has been used medicinally for centuries, there are few scientific studies supporting its use. Please talk to a doctor before using any naturopathic product.

Tooth and Gum Health

The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database states that applying neem extract to the teeth and gums twice a day may reduce the formation of harmful dental plaque. The mechanism for this is described in a January 2004 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Researchers surmised that neem fights Streptococcus mutans and lactobacilli, two types of bacteria associated with tooth decay. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database states that more research is necessary to confirm this finding.

Peptic Ulcer Disease

Taking 30 to 60 mg of neem bark extract twice daily for up to 10 weeks may improve the symptoms of ulcers and promote healing, according to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive database, which cites an October 2004 study published in the journal Life Science. Neem bark extract decreased the overproduction of stomach acid, which erodes the lining of the esophagus and stomach and causes ulcers. The authors of the study reported no adverse effects, but additional research is required.

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Fighting Malaria

Neem is considered to be an environmentally safe pesticide, because it does not kill insects directly but naturally interrupts the life cycle of harmful insects. However, the seeds can be toxic to dogs, guinea pigs and other domestic animals. Malaria, the deadly disease caused by a parasite spread by mosquitoes, is a world health concern. A July 2008 study published in the Malaria Journal describes the 50 percent reduction in the mosquito population after applying neem seed powder to mosquito breeding areas. The study took place in a Nigerian village where neem trees are common and accessible.

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