Introduction We all will be seeing many neem trees on many of the roadsides. During my childhood days, I used to wonder why so many neem trees are grown which are of not much use. Many might have the same feeling about this tree. This opinion may be due to its taste which is very bitter and as they are not utilized in our day to day life like other leaves and fruits. In some parts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the flowers of these trees are used in making a special dish on Telugu New Year day. There are many uses of this plant. All parts of the tree are having very wide applications in health care. The leaves, the flowers, the bark and the fruits are known for their uses in various pharmaceutical formulations, insect repellents and medicinal uses.
The botanical name of this tree is Azadirachta Indica. This tree is very commonly known as 'The free tree of India'. Azad is free, Dirakht is a tree and the tree is originated from Burma which was a part of this country and hence this name. This tree is also known as 'Margosa' and belongs to belongs to the family of 'Meliaceae'.
Around 140 chemical compounds were derived from various parts of this tree. Almost all these compounds are useful in many medical formulations as active ingredients. Major quantities of these ingredients were found in leaves, seeds and oils. They are available in fewer quantities in other parts of the plants also.
Uses Neem oil is used in the manufacture of varieties of toiletries like soaps, shampoos, toothpaste and creams.
Neem oil now is used by soap manufacturers mainly because of its low cost. At the same time, it is antibacterial, antifungal and moisturizing compound.
The crude oil is used to produce detergent soaps.
It is being used as a veterinary medicine especially for treating horses from special types of diseases.
Traditionally, the sticks of this tree branches are used as toothbrushes. One end of the stick is made like a brush by chewing and then used to clean the teeth. After completely cleaning the teeth, the stick will be split into two halves lengthwise and will be used as a tongue cleaner. This practice is there in Africa and the Middle East for centuries in addition to our country. It is still in practice in some rural areas of our country.
The neem gum is very useful in the preparation of some special foods.
It is a beauty aid. The powder made out of leaves is an ingredient in some facial creams. Neem oil is an ingredient in the manufacture of nail polish and cosmetics.
Neem leaves boiled water is a good bird repellent and this is very effective in case of sparrows.
Neem oil is used as grease. It is more popular in villages and very much used for greasing wheels of carts.
The material oozing out from the trunk when wounded is a high protein material having use as a food additive and also as Neem glue.
Neem bark contains normally about 14% tannin. It yields a strong, coarse fibre used to make ropes in the villages of our country.
In our country, the neem oil is used as a curative for diseases like chicken pox.
Neem coated urea is used as a fertilizer to have a better efficiency.
Ayurveda was the first to use the constituents of neem tree as a medicine. It is used as antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral medicine.
Closing wordsNeem tree thus is having a very good number of uses and every part of the tree is useful to the mankind in some way or other. We should encourage the plantation of these trees which are very good absorbers of carbon dioxides and gives pure oxygen to the mankind.
A brief write up enumerating the uses of Neem tree leaves and the tender sticks. It is often difficult to find neem trees in the new rapidly developed residential neighborhoods. If one cannot get access to neem leaves, then popular ayurvedic/herbal brands like Himalaya etc offer a range of neem based products for skin/hair application and for oral ingestion. Neem oil or grounded fresh leaf paste is also used for resisting dandruff and this has to be applied at least once or twice a week until dandruff disappears. This followed by application of hibiscus flower powder as a paste or mixed with regular coconut hair oil helps good hair growth.