Neem
1253615850image_Neem out.jpg Azadirachta Indica Family-Meliaceae
 
Azadirachta Indica
 
Family-Meliaceae

 
 
   

     
           

 
     
           

Neem or Margosa is a botanical cousin of mahogany.

Azad = Free,
Dirakht = Tree,
i - Hind = of Indian Origin

which literally means: 'The Free Tree of India'.

Neem is an attractive broad-leaved, evergreen tree which can grow up to 30m tall and 2.5m in girth. Its trunk usually straight is 30-80 cm in diameter. Its spreading branches form a rounded crown of deep-green leaves and honey-scented flowers as much as 20m across.
     
                 
LOCAL NAMES      
           
Hindi - Neem
Bengali - Nim, Nimgachh
Konkani - Beva-rooku
Marathi - Kadunimb
Gujarati - Leemdo
Punjabi - Nimb
Malayalam - Veppu, Aryaveppu, Aruveppu, Kaippan, Veppu, Vepa
Simhalee - Nimu
Oriya - Nimo
Telegu - Vepa
Kannada - Bevinmar, Kahibevu
English - Margosa, Neem, Indian Lilac
French - Azarirae d'lnde, Margousier
German - Indischer Zadrach
Persian - Azade Darakhte Hindi
Arabic - Azad Darkhtu Hind
Burmese - Tamabin, Kamakha
Malay - Dawoon Nambu, Baypay
Latin - Azadirachta Indica A. Juss or Melia Azadirachta Linn
Farsi - Azad darkht 1 hindi (Free tree of India)
Singapore - Kohumba, nimba
Indonesia - Mindi
Nigeria - Don goyaro
Spanish - Margosa
Nepal - Nim
Portuguese - Margosa, Nimbo

     
                   
           

MEDICINAL PROPERTIES AND ITS USES

Neem - the legendary medicinal tree of India has grown with the human settlement all over the country and has been an integral part of the Indian way of life for centuries. The history of the Neem tree is inextricably linked to the history of the Indian civilization. For ages Indians have trusted this tree to fortify their health and remedy scores of diseases. In addition, it has been used for protecting food and stored grains and as a fertilizer and natural pesticide for the fields. It has been used for a far wider array of uses than any other tree!

Ancient India was envied for its Black Pepper, Cardamom, Saffron, Turmeric, Sandalwood, Silk etc. and these prized ingredients were sought after and taken across the seas to Europe for centuries. For the women, the neem was the mainstay of the herbal beauty tradition. It was also a source of medicine to treat more than a 100 health problems, from scratches and skin rashes to malaria and diabetes. The women also used it to protect their stored grains and pulses through the year. For the men folk the tree provided seeds, leaf and bark which could be converted into fertilizer and pest control material. It also provided medicinal potions for their cattle and livestock. For women in particular, the Neem proved an invaluable source of health, hygiene and beauty that was freely available. Having a bath with a decoction of neem leaves kept their skin supple and healthy. Neem leaf powder or crushed leaves incorporated into their face packs provided emollient and anti ageing action. The antiseptic properties of neem leaf extracts helped in controlling pimples and acne.

Neem oil was believed to prevent baldness and greying of hair and was used as anti-lice and anti-dandruff treatment. A teaspoon of dried neem leaf powder, mixed with the same quantity of ghee (clarified butter) and honey was known to help control skin allergies. A mixture of equal quantities of neem seed powder, rock salt and alum mixed well was used for maintaining healthy teeth and gums.Nimba, the great medicine for the cure of pitta - aggravations and for blood purification- Priyanighantu Harotakyadivarga.

Its medicinal properties are documented in the ancient Sanskrit texts - puranas and it is estimated that Neem is present, in one form or another, in 75% of Ayurvedic formulations. The ancient Indian found many therapeutic uses for the tree and also observed that the tree could survive and grow almost anywhere as long as it was warm and dry. In due course of time, migrating Indians carried it to distant lands i.e.: Africa, Fiji, Mauritius, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, plantations are reported to be making headway in USA, Mexico, Australia and China and several countries of Latin America. Neem Oil is generally recommended for skin diseases while neem leaves are used for beauty purposes. The Neem leaf extracts have a powerful antiseptic, antifungal, antiviral and anti-bacterial effect. Unlike synthetic chemicals that often produce side effects such as allergic reactions, rashes etc. Neem is gentle and does not create any complications. Unlike Neem seed oil, Neem leaves have a pleasant odour. An extract from neem leaves can be prepared as an alcoholic tincture or as tea. The alcohol extract has a dark green color and is effective for several weeks. It can be used in anti ageing nourishing formulas, mouthwashes, face washes, shower gels, soothing gels, face masks, skin toners etc. It is estimated that a Neem tree has a productive life span of 150 - 200 years.
     
              
USAGE      
           
In India, the tree is variously known as 'Divine Tree’,” Heal All”,” Nature’s Drugstore", "Village Pharmacy" and "Panacea for all diseases". Products made from neem have proven medicinal properties as: anthelmintic, antifungal, antidaibetic, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifertility etc. It is particularly prescribed for skin disease (Puri, 1999).
     
                   
  1. Neem twigs are used for brushing teeth in India and Pakistan. This practice is  perhaps one of the earliest and most effective forms of dental care.
  2. All parts of the tree (seeds, leaves, flowers and bark) are used for preparing many different medical preparations.      
  3. Neem oil is used for preparing cosmetics (soap, shampoo, balms and creams).      
  4. Besides its use in traditional Indian medicine the neem tree is of great importance for its anti-desertification properties and possibly as a good carbon dioxide sink.
  5. Neem oil is useful for skin care such as acne, and keeping skin elasticity.      
  6. Traditionally, patients suffering from Chicken Pox sleep on the leaves in India owing to its medicinal value.      
             
CONTEMPORARY IMPORTANCE      
           

Neem is currently one of the world's most researched trees. It is a tree that can help solve global environmental and health concerns. Environmentally, Neem has a reputation as a natural air purifier, exhaling out oxygen and keeping the oxygen level in the atmosphere balanced. Neem's ability to withstand extreme heat and water pollution is well known. It also helps to improve fertility of the soil and to rehabilitate degraded wastelands.

The Neem tree can also play a vital role in controlling soil erosion, salination and preventing floods. But Neem is far more than a tough tree that grows vigorously in difficult sites. Among its many benefits, the one that is most unusual and immediately practical is the control of farm and household pests. Some entomologists now believe that Neem has such remarkable powers for controlling insects that it will usher in a new era in safe, natural pesticides.
     
             
Skin Conditions      
           

Neem has an almost magical effect on chronic skin conditions that fail to respond to conventional treatments. Acne, psoriasis, eczema, and ringworm are conditions that are effectively treated by a Neem preparation.
     
            
Hair and Nails      
           

Scalp conditions like dandruff, scaling and even hair loss improve with Neem products. Yellow or brittle nails, caused by the presence of yeast or fungi, are normalized by the use of Neem.
     
           
Teeth and Gums      
           

Neem mouth rinse is very effective in the treatment of infections, tooth decay, bleeding and sore gums. A mouthwash, using Neem oil, has been used at practice for the treatment of mouth ulcers.
     
           
Diabetes      
           

Neem has been found to reduce insulin requirements by up to 50% for diabetics, without altering blood glucose levels.
     
           
Heart and Blood      
           

A recent study showed that a Neem treatment lowered high cholesterol levels. It has also been tested, with good results, for other heart conditions.
     
              
Uses of Neem Leaves in Industries      
           

Neem leaves are extensively used in a number of industries, leaves are either used in the raw form, extracts or in powdered form and is an important ingredient/composition in a number of products
     
                  
Pharmaceutical Industry      
           

Neem leaves find a number of uses to prevent, cure and treat a number of diseases and ailments. A large number of drugs and herbal medicines have neem leaves as their active ingredient
     
            
Skin Care Products      
           

Used as a potent cure for acne, pimples, and blemishes. A large number of herbal product manufacturers make extensive use of neem leaves to make medicated herbal facial creams, lotions, syrups for dermatological problems. Many drug manufacturers make use of neem leaves for producing important drugs meant for diabetes, blood pressure, psoriasis, malaria, ulcer etc make use of neem leaves as an important composition/ingredient.
     
                  
Cosmetic Industry      
           

With the increasing popularity of herbs and herbal products, leading manufacturers are using neem leaves in a number of creams, lotions, hair care products such as hair oils, conditioners, hair rejuvenating tonics etc.
     
               
Agricultural Industry      
           

Neem leaves are of tremendous use in agricultural industry; the leaves possess insect repellent properties and are used as herbal pesticides, insecticides. Azadirachtin is the principle ingredient used in the manufacture of fertilizers and manure.
     
                
Herbal Industry      
           

Neem leaf is an important ingredient used in a number of herbal products, right from skin care to hair care, from oral care to herbal cosmetics. Leaves are used in Ayurvedic and unani medicines.
     
              
DISTRIBUTION      
           

It is one of two species in the genus Azadirachta, and is native to India and Burma, growing in tropical and semi-tropical regions.Neem is a fast growing tree that can reach a height of 15-20 m, rarely to 35-40 m. It is evergreen but under severe drought it may shed most or nearly all of its leaves. The branches are wide spread. The fairly dense crown is roundish or oval and may reach the diameter of 15-20 m in old, free-standing specimens.

In India, Neem grows in the plains and in areas up to an elevation of 1850 m. In its introduced range, Neem is cultivated from sea level to an altitude of 1500 m. Neem is tolerant to most soil types including dry, stony, shallow soils, lateritic crusts, highly leached sands and clays. With an extensive and deep root system, the hardy Neem can grow and flourish even in marginal and leached soils. The Neem tree flowers between February and May. The honey-scented white flowers, found in clusters are a good source of nectar for bees. Neem fruits are green drupes which turn golden yellow on ripening in the month of June, July and August in India.

the Neem tree can thrive in climates that range from hot, or tropical (45 degrees Celsius) to altitudes of semi-temperate, higher altitude regions, with temperatures slightly above freezing. Used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for more than 2,000 years, the Neem tree's bark, Neem leaves Neem seeds.
     
                   
           

CULTIVATION AND PROPAGATION

The seeds should be as fresh as possible as older seeds often do not germinate. Provided that only a few trees are to be planted, and there is sufficient moisture available, with minimum weeds, the seeds may be sown directly into the ground. Two to three seeds are placed together about 1 cm deep in loose soil. After germination, only the strongest plant should be retained. When planting a large number, it is advisable to cultivate young plants first in pots, trays or plastic bags. After 3 months, they should be transplanted into the ground. When using bags or pots care should be taken that the plants are not allowed to develop to a stage where the tap root has pierced the bottom and has to be shortened before transplantation. This weakens the trees and substantially slows their growth.

 
     
           

CLIMATE

The Neem has adapted to a wide range of climates. It thrives well in hot weather, where the maximum shade temperature is as high as 49° C and tolerates cold upto 0° C on altitudes upto 1500 m.Today, the Neem is well established in at least 30 countries world-wide, in Asia, Africa and Central and South America. Some small scale plantations are also reportedly successful in the United States of America.

     
                   
           

SOIL

The Neem grows on almost all types of soils including clayey, saline and alkaline soils, with pH upto 8.5, but does well on black cotton soil and deep, well-drained soil with good sub-soil water. Unlike most other multipurpose tree species, it thrives well on dry, stony, shallow soils and even on soils having hard calcareous or clay pan, at a shallow depth. The tree improves the soil fertility and water-holding capacity as it has a unique property of calcium mining, which changes the acidic soils into neutral.
     
                   
           

NURSERY PRACTICES

Nursery could be either a temporary or permanent one. Site in either case should have a perennial water source and located on a flat ground with well drained soil. On a hilly site, a moderate slope preferably on the northern aspect has to be chosen.

     
                   
           

SEED COLLECTION AND STORAGE

Only fruits at the yellow green colour stage are pricked from the branches by hand or by using ladder. After collection the fruits are depulped immediately. Soaking in cold water for a few hours helps in removing pulp. Fruits are then rubbed over a coffee weir and floated in water to separate seed from pulp. Storing neem seed for 5 months at 40% natural moisture content at 16 degree centigrade is possible. For short storage the seeds are closed in polythene bags and exposed to air once in a week to keep them viable. Long term storage of Neem seeds for more than 10 years is done at 4% moisture content and -200 Centigrade temperature. For this purpose seeds are dried very quickly i.e. within a few hours after depulping in a mono layer at temperature more than 20 degree centigrade to prevent chilling damage under a fan. Shade drying and storage of seed in cloth bags at a temperature upto 4 o Centigrade is also done to improve seed viability. Storage of seed in earthern pot containing wet sand (30% moisture) helps to retain viability upto 60% at the end of 3 months. On an average 5000 seeds weigh one kilogram.
     
                   
           

SOWING OF SEEDS

Germination rate of Neem varies between 15% (stored seeds) and 85% (fresh seeds). Hence, to ensure higher viability of the seeds, their immediate sowing in nursery is recommended. Pre-soaking the seed for 24 hours in cold water and removal of the endocarp or cutting of the seed coat at the round end with a sharp knife also increase its germination capacity. Examination of seeds at the time of sowing is also necessary. Seeds are cut across with sharp blades and the cotyledons are examined. If the cotyledons are found green, seeds are sound and suitable and if they are yellow or brown, then seeds are not suitable for sowing.

Sowing of seeds in nursery beds made up of fine river sand is done in drills 15 c/m apart. Seeds are sown 2.5 cms deep at distance of 2 to 5 cms in the lines and lightly covered with earth to safeguard against birds and insects which often eat radicles of the germinated seeds on the surface. The beds are sparingly watered to prevent caking. Alternatively seeds can be sown directly into pots. Germination occurs in 1/2 weeks time. Once the hypocotyl is erect the seedling is transplanted into the containers. Seeds are sown 3 / 4 months before planting date. Potting mix comprises of 50% sandy loam, 40% river sand and 10% compost by volume.
     
                   
           

PRICKING

Seedlings are pricked out at 15 cms x 15 cms when about 2 months old. They do not require any shade. Soil working and weeding are very beneficial. In frosty localities plants are protected by means of screen. When the seedlings are 7 to 10 cm tall with tap root about 15 cm long, these are transplanted with balls of earth around them. In dry areas, it is necessary to plant larger seedlings of at least 45 cm height since smaller ones are unable to tide over the drought period. This is the reason why seedlings are kept in the nursery beds for another year before planting in the next range.
     
                   
           

PLANTING


Direct Sowing is easy and can be successfully done by dibbling, broadcast, sowing in lines or in trenches, depending on the site conditions. It is reported that, in Rajasthan, neem seed has been successfully dibbled under Euphorbia bushes in Ajmer district by placing 3- 5 seed in small pits and covering them with soil. In Maharashtra, neem is sown with ‘babul’. While in the Bellary district of Karnataka, sowing on mounds in rows 2.7 m apart on black soil has proved successful.

For planting he nursery- raised seedlings, the seedlings may be planted inside thorny bushes to provide initial protection from cattle damage. Neem can also be planted as a roadside avenue tree.>br>
Stumps from 2- year –old plants have been reported to give a better survival and faster growth rate than hose from 1- year-old plants. The stumps are prepared with 2.5 cm f shoot and 23 cm of root pieces and should be planted at the onset of the rains.
     
                   
           

PLANTING TECHNIQUES

Neem can be easily raised through direct sowing, entire / polypot seedlings or root-shoot cuttings. For degraded areas direct sowing is more successful and economical provided adequate protection is given during early stages. Entire / polypot seedlings or root-shoot cuttings are more relevant for agro-forestry / silvi pasture and road side avenue plantations. Direct sowing is done either by dibbling in bushes, broadcast sowing, line sowing, sowing on mounds or ridges, sowing in trenches in sunken beds in circular saucers or by aerial sowing. The choice varies with edaphic, climatic, biotic and economic conditions of the site. Planting in pits is carried out by using 20 to 45 cms tall seedlings. Taller ones promise better survival. Planting of stumps prepared from a year old seedlings in crowbar holes also gives good results.
     
                   
           

IRRIGATED PLANTATION

In desert areas of Rajasthan, Neem has been planted along with canal area and watered for the first 5-7 years. Under Saudi-Arabian Arid condition, Neem is usually watered for the first 10-12 years, after which it taps ground water.
     
                   
           

FARM FORESTRY PLANTATIONS

For raising a block plantation under farm forestry a closer espacement of 5mx5m accommodating 400 trees per ha may be followed. This may vary from field to field and also depending upon the objective. The wider espacement of 7mx7m accommodating about 200 trees per hectare may be on the broader side where Agro-forestry can also be practiced.
     
                   
           

HARVESTING NEEM SEEDS

Neem trees bloom for the first time when they have reached the age of 2 to 3 years, and bear fruit at the age of 3 to 4 years. They normally produce fruit once a year, but in some moist zones twice a year. The fruit of the neem can either be shaken off the tree, picked, or stripped from the branches. When ripe it is yellow in colour, about 2 cm in length and oval-shaped. In the soft, sweet fruit there is a light-coloured seed of about 1.5 cm in length, containing one, or sometimes two, brown seed kernels. After harvesting the fruit the ripe pulp should be removed as quickly as possible. In some regions, birds or fruit bats eat the sweet pulp, so that a lot of clean seeds can be found on the ground.
     
                   
           

HARVESTING AND YIELD

The trees shed their leaves during February March and a full- grown tree produces an estimated 350 kg of leaves. The fruits mature in June- July and produce about 50 kg/tree of berries. The fruits contains, skin: 23.8%, pulp: 47.5%; shell: 18.6% and kernel: 10.1%. The fruits are dried in the shade and stored in airtight gunny bags or tin containers. The fresh fruit gives, on an average, 60% on a dry-weight basis. It must be ensured that the seed do not contain moisture, which may otherwise invite fungal attack and lead to aflatoxin contamination. The kernel yield 45% of fixed oil.
     
                   
           

CHEMICAL CONSTITUENTS


MAJOR CONSTITUENT
Margosic acid

ACTIVE CONSTITUENTS
Nimbin, Nimbidin and Nimbinene


Several compounds have been isolated and characterized. The main feature is that most of them are chemically similar and biogenetically derivable from a tetracyclicterpenes. These are also called liminoids (azadirachtin, meliantrol, salanin etc.) bitter principles and occur in other botanical species as well (Rutaceae and Simaroubaceae). The unraveling of high complex structural features and biogenetic interrelationship represent classic piece of work on natural product chemistry. From the practical side these compounds also exhibit a wide variety of biological activity, for example, pesticides, antifeedants, and cytotoxic properties.

Leaves mainly yield quercetin (flavonoid) and nimbosterol (ß- sitosterol) as well as number of liminoids (Nimbin and its derivatives). Quercetin (a polyphenolic flavonoid) is known to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. This may perhaps account for the curative properties of leaves for sores and scabies. Limonoids like nimocinolide and isonimocinolide affect fecundity in house flies (Musca domestica) at a dose ranging between 100 and 500 ppm. They also show mutagenic properties in mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti) producing intermediates. Fresh matured leaves yield an odorous viscous essential oil, which exhibits antifungal activity against fungi (Trichophyton mentagrophytes) in vitro. White crystalline flakes obtained from petroleum ether extract of leaves consisting of a mixture of C 14, C 24, C 31 alkanes were found to exceed or equal the lavicidal activity of pyrethrum extract.

The principal constituents of neem leave include protein (7.1%), carbohydrates (22.9%), minerals, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin C, carotene etc. But they also contain glutamic acid, tyrosine, aspartic acid, alanine, praline, glutamine and cystine like amino acids, and several fatty acids (dodecanoic, tetradecanoic, elcosanic, etc.).

Besides, the essential oil consisting of sesquiterpene derivatives, the flowers contain nimbosterol and flavonoids like kaempferol, melicitrin etc. Flowers also yield a waxy material consisting of several fatty acids, viz., behenic (0.7%), arachidic (0.7%), stearic (8.2%), palmitic (13.6%), oleic (6.5%) and linoleic (8.0%). The pollen of neem contains several amino acids like glumatic acid, tyrosine, arginine, methionion, phenylalanine, histidine, arminocaprylic acid and isoleucine.

The trunk bark contains nimbn (0.04%), nimbinin (0.001%), nimbidin (0.4%), nimbosterol (0.03%), essential oil (0.02%), tannins (6.0%), a bitter principle margosine and 6-desacetyl nimbinene. The stem bark contains tannins (12-16%) and non-tannin (8-11%). The bark contains anti-inflammatory polysaccharide consisting of glucose, arabinose and fructose at a molar ratio 1:1:1 with molecular weight of 8,400. The bark also yields an antitumor polysaccharide. Besides polysaccharides, several diterpenoids, viz., nimbinone, nimbolicin, margocin, nimbidiol, nimbione, etc. have been isolated from stem bark and root bark.

Besides ß- sitosterol, 24-methylenelophenol and nimatone, the heartwood contains, calcium, potassium and iron salts. The heartwood on destructive distillation gives charcoal (30%) and pyroligeneous acid (38.4%). Neem wood contains cellulose, hemicellulose (14.00%) and lignin (14.63%), while wood oil contains ß-sitosterol, cycloeucalenol and 24- methylenecyceloartenol.

The tree exudes a gum, which on hydrolysis yields, L-arabinose, L-fucose, D-galactose and D-glucoronic acid. The older tree exudes a sap containing free sugars (glucose, fructose, mannose and xylose), amino acids (alanine, amino butyric acid, arginine, asparagines, aspartic acid, glycine, norvaline, praline, etc) and organic acids (citric, malonic, succinic and fumaric). The sap is reported to be useful in the treatment of general weakness and skin diseases.

Seed is very important both because of its high lipid content as well as the occurrence of a large number of bitter principles (azadirachtin, azadiradione, fraxinellone, nimbin, salannin, salannol, vepinin, vilasinin, etc.) in considerable quantities. Azadirachtin has proven effectiveness as a pesticide against about 200 insect species and is reported as non-toxic to humans. Neem kernel lipids are similar to the normal glycerides from other oilseeds and contain oleic acid (50-60%), palmitic acid (13-15%), stearic acid (14-19%), linoleic acid (8-16%) and arachidic acid (1-3%). It is brownish yellow, non-drying oil with an acrid taste and unpleasant odour. The quality of the oil differs with the method of processing.

The composition of neem cake after the extraction of oil varies widely depending on the raw material used for expelling, for example, whole dried fruits, seeds or kernels. The range of the proximate composition in percentage are: crude protein 13-35, carbohydrates 26-50, crude fibre 8-26, fat 2-13, ash 5-18, acid insoluble ash 1-7. The bitter cake has no value as animal or poultry feed. Extraction of cake with 70% alcohol followed by hexane yields a meal free from bitterness and odour, which will be satisfactory as feed. The neem cake is rich in most of the amino acids. It is a potential source of organic manure and contains many plant nutrients, viz., nitrogen 2-3%, phosphorus 1% and potassium 1.4%. It also contains 1.0-1.5% tannic acid and has the highest sulphur content of 1.07 - 1.36% among the oil cakes. The neem cake contains a large number of triterpenoids, more of which are being discovered.
     
           
 
 
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