Frankly Speaking Friday- Exotic Oils Cont.- Neem Seed Oil

Franky Speaking, I am becoming anxious to get to the end of this exotic oil series! Lol. So, here we go again, today's topic is Neem Seed Oil.

Neem oil is extracted from the nut of the neem tree, botanically identified as Azadirachta indica. This tree is native to India, but can now be found growing in a number of semi-tropical and tropical countries. The oil is Cold Pressed
and is an incredibly rich, dark in color, viscous (thick), and highly odoriferous oil, smelling strongly of garlic. In fact, it really needs to be diluted before being adding to your products. Anyone using it, should experiment with it in small batches, in order to make sure that the odor does not adversely affect the final products. Neem oil is semi-solid in its natural state. For this reason, many vendors add a percentage of olive, or other oil, to the neem, in order to assist in its pourability. Even so, you may still have to liquefied the neem [mixture] oil in a pot of simmering water, a microwave, in the sun, or at a temperature higher than 85 degrees F. While some people do use neem oil internally, and its use in this way has been proven beneficial, it really needs to be done under the direct supervision of someone who is qualified in the administration of this substance. Neem is extremely potent, and more studies are needed before I would feel safe recommending its internal use straight off the market shelf.  

The neem tree has many uses in traditionak medicine, hygiene and is even one of the best natural insecticides available today. It possess a chemical called azadirachtin that is the insecticide part of neem oil. This chemical prevents the bug from eating the plant or leaf, so it starves to death. I actually think its the smell, but I couldn't find any documentation to back me up on this! Lol! 
But it does not seem to interfere with beneficial insects, animals, or delay the harvest in any way, even though it must be reapplied every few days. This is really its only downside, the lack of persistence so to speak, but many gardeners consider this to actually be another benefit. 

Medically speaking, neem oil has been proven to be useful in treating a myriad of illnesses and diseases. It has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiseptic, and antiparasitic properties. Meaning that it truly has earned its reputation as "the curer of all ailments", as it was called in ancient Indian texts that date back to as early as 2000 to 4000 BC. All of the neem tree is, and has been used. In fact, it has been so well used, that this tree is considered good luck, and was often referred to as the "village pharmacy." 

This amazing oil can be found in medicines, toiletries, pest control, cosmetics, plant and animal nutrition and other products. Its pharmaceutical effects cover a wide spectrum too, from skin-care and health, to agriculture and veterinary uses. In fact, it is even being taughted as the active ingredient in the first male birth control pill. Studies dating back to 1959 show neem to be an effective spermicidal and [female] contraceptive agent. And, in 1993, published reports state that "vaginal creams and suppositories made with neem oil are quickly becoming the birth control method of choice in India." 

So what can this fascinating oil do for you? Well, as already stated, you can use this in the garden quite easily. Simply mix 2 Tablespoons of neem oil, with a bit of dish soap, and a gallon of water. (The dish soap acts as a surfactant, so the water and the oil will mix). Spray infested plants with this mixture and the insects will avoid the sprayed leaves, and die of starvation. It is also good as a personal bug repellent when it is incorporated into a body lotion. 
For athlete's foot, just add a few drops into a foot soak, powder, or salve recipe. For dandruff and head lice, add some neem to olive oil, or the carrier oil of your choice, and massage it into the hair and scalp, leaving in for one hour, then shampooing out. Repeat this treatment once a week for 3 weeks, or as long as the problem persists. 

Some people like to add neem leaves into their baths, or just a few drops of the oil,  before soaking. Adding neem oil to your liquid hand soap will create an antibacterial soap, where adding it to bar soap or facial clay, will make a great acne treatment. Neem can be added into your soap, up to 30% of your base oil, if you can stand the smell, or in amounts of 5-10% for superfatting. 
 The neem seed kernel is very rich in fatty acids, and essential fatty acids, as well as vitamin E, making it an excellent moisturizing oil, with regenerative properties. While it is known to boost the immune system and to treat bacterial, fungal, and viral infections, as well as other, specific health issues [ranging from malerial fevers, Aides and leprosy, to gangrene, tuberculosis and heart disease] its strong, strong smell, and its bitter taste, has limited its commercial viability for all intent and purposes. If, however, you can get past the scent, or sufficiently mask its odor with essential or fragrance oils, you will find that this oil has amazing, useful, healing qualities. Because the lye process naturally cuts some of the scent (and the fragrance can further cover the odor), soap makes an excellent delivery mode for neem oil. Neem oil is especially good for treating  skin lesions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, chicken pox, diaper rash, insect bites, and even hot spots on animals. So making a soap bar with these maladies in mind is a natural and smart use of the oil! If, however you still cannot stomach the scent, try Karanja Oil, which is pressed from the seeds of the Pongam Tree, a cousin of Neem, which offers similar therapeutic benefits.  

Warning wise, I want to reiterate, neem oil is VERY strong. Large doses of Neem may even be toxic. I highly recommend additional research and study before using this oil internally. You should understand that it has been documented, infants have died as a result of the internal use of neem.
No matter what, children and pregnant or nursing women should NOT use neem oil. Long term use of this oil has been linked with liver and kidney dysfunction. Additionally, if you are on any type of medication you should consult with a physician before using Neem oil. There simply has not been enough studies done on drug interactions with this oil. Be sure to keep oil away from children and pets.
    *For references please see the reference page, link is at the top of this post

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