Is It Healthy To Eat Neem Leaves?

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The Neem tree has been used since time immemorial to cure a wide range of medical ailments. Various parts of the tree such as seeds, fruits, stem, leaves, bark, twigs, root, flowers, etc. are used to formulate conventional Ayurvedic treatment. Chewing a handful of Neem leaves daily gives you dandruff-free, plaque-free teeth, acne-free skin, and an ulcer-free stomach. Most of us know about its benefits, but are there any side effects of eating Neem leaves? In this article, we will look at the safety of eating Neem leaves daily.

About Neem or Indian Lilac

Neem has an immense conventional significance in Indian culture. For more than two hundred centuries, Neem has gained the mainstream recognition of being a magical healer, predominantly in Southeast Asia. Ayurveda, the ancient medical system, for generations has acknowledged the benefits of eating Neem leaves.

Neem is known by several different names such as ‘Azadirachta Indica’ or Indian Lilac in English, ‘Neemba’ in Sanskrit, Bead Tree, Indian Lilac, Holy Tree, Margosa Tree, Nim, Nimba, Nimb, Pride of China, and Persian Lilac.

According to scientific research, this tree has more than 130 biologically active compounds. These leaves have a pungent and bitter taste. They are significant in balancing Vata energies and treating neuromuscular disorders in the body. Its leaves offer several types of health benefits. It is full of antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, antiseptic, antioxidant, anti-microbial, anticarcinogenic, and antimalarial properties.

Neem leaves also detoxify the blood and fight against free radicals in the body. Chewing Neem leaves also helps nourish hair and cure headaches. These leaves of the tree have a high amount of active ingredients such as Nimbin and azadirachtin. It makes it helpful in the treatment of a wide range of multiple issues that range from a skin ailment, cancer, fever, inflammation, digestive issues, diabetes, dental disorders, and more.

It has the potential to cure almost any type of health issue. Neem leaves are loaded with a variety of skin and health benefits. Add these leaves to your tea, make a paste, or simply chew a few freshly plucked leaves to reap its multiple benefits. If you consume it regularly, it will keep your liver, heart, hair, skin, vision, nervous system, teeth, and intestine in sound working condition.

Versatility of Neem

Neem is a holy tree. The leaves of the tree are beneficial in vision disorders, skin ulcers, leprosy, intestinal worms, stomach upset, skin wounds, bloody nose, loss of appetite, heart ailments, blood vessel impairments, head lice, fever, gingivitis, liver ailments, and diabetes. The paste of the Neem leaves when applied on the skin deters mosquitoes.

Besides leaves, the other parts of the Neem also offer a myriad of health benefits. Let us have a look:

  • The bark of this tree is effective against malaria, intestinal and stomach ulcers, skin ailments, fever, and pain.
  • The Neem flower is effective against lowering bile, treating gut worms, and controlling phlegm.
  • The fruit of Neem is helpful in treating leprosy, hemorrhoids, eye disorders, urinary tract disorders, wounds, intestinal worms, phlegm, bloody nose, and diabetes.
  • Neem twigs are effective in the treatment of cough, hemorrhoids, asthma, infected gut, low sperm count, urinary ailments, and diabetes.
  • Neem has chemicals that lower blood glucose levels, cure ulcers in the intestine, prevent pregnancy, destroy bacteria, and avoid the formation of plaque in the mouth.
  • The seeds of the Neem are widely used for curing intestinal worms, leprosy, and as a natural birth control measure. The bark, root, stem, and fruit of the tree work as a health tonic and a natural astringent.

What Makes Neem Therapeutic?

Neem has an impressive therapeutic profile that is responsible for its magical healing action. Neem leaves have active constituents such as nimbidin, nimbinin, and azadirachtin. All these are responsible for antibacterial attributes. Active phytochemicals, azadirachtin, prevents the infection due to pests.

In addition to it, the seeds and leaves of Neem also have coumarins, flavonoids, tannins, terpenoids, polysaccharides, and proteins that lead to anticancer impact in the body. The bioactive constituent “azadirachtin”, and polyphenol “nimbolide”, shows powerful hepatoprotective and liver-protective properties. They destroy free radicals and prevent damage to important organs and vital tissues in the body.

The high level of nimbanene, and vitamin C, destroys free radicals and toxic intermediates from the body. Research states that the presence of these active ingredients lowers the inflammation in the body. They avert the genes that secrete pro-inflammatory compounds in the body.

What Are The Safety Concerns Linked To Neem Leaves Consumption?

Neem is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent that helps in fighting against free radicals and reducing inflammation in the body. However, do not consider it as a mainstream treatment. It should be used in conjunction with medical treatment.

Neem is safe a majority of adults when consumed by mouth for ten weeks, topically applied on the skin for up to two weeks, and applied in the oral cavity for up to six weeks. However, when it is consumed in excessive dosage or for a prolonged time period then it can be unsafe. It can lead to adverse effects especially to your liver and the kidneys.

Precautions And Warnings Related To Neem

Neem may not be beneficial for a certain section of people. Let us see who should not consume Neem –

1. Children

It is not safe to consume Neem in oil or seeds form by mouth. It is unsafe for small children and infants. It can cause chronic side effects within just a few hours of consuming Neem oil. These can include diarrhea, nausea, blood disorders, sleepiness, seizures, loss of awareness, coma, death, and brain disorders.

2. Auto-immune diseases

Another set of people who should not consume Neem is those who suffer from auto-immune diseases. These include multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or other conditions. Neem possesses powerful immune-boosting attributes that make the system overactive. This can aggravate auto-immune ailments in a person. So, if you are having an overly active immune system, then it is advised to avoid Neem.

3. Pregnant And Lactating Mothers

The bark of Neem is unsafe when consumed via the mouth in pregnancy. It can lead to miscarriage. Also, women are breast-feeding are not advised to consume Neem as it can harm the baby.

4. Contamination

There can be a side effect of chewing Neem twigs. People who live in the tropical region brush their teeth with Neem stem and chew Neem twigs to maintain oral hygiene. There can be chances that the twigs or stems are contaminated with fungi. Using them can cause infection in your oral cavity.

5. Reduced fertility

Neem has properties that can lower the potency of sperm. This can, in turn, result in causing infertility or abortion in women. Due to this ability, Neem seeds are used in the formulation of birth control medicines. So, if you planning to conceive, or getting pregnant, you should not consume Neem in any form.

6. Diabetes

Neem can reduce the blood sugar and cholesterol levels in a person. This makes it helpful in the treatment of diabetes. However, if you are already taking blood sugar reducing medicines, then consumption of Neem can cause a drastic drop in blood sugar levels.

Too low sugar in the bloodstream can lead to giddiness, lethargy, etc.  So, if you are on blood sugar lowering medication, you should always get the doctor’s approval before including it in the diet.

7. Organ transplantation

Neem has the ability to reduce the efficacy of medicines that prevents organ rejection. If you are going to perform organ transplantation, then do not use Neem.

8. Surgery

Neem can also interfere with blood sugar before, during, and post-surgical treatment. It is advised to stop consumption of Neem at least fifteen days after your scheduled date of surgery.

Does Neem Lead To Interactions With Specific Medications?

Neem can interact with specific types of medication that can cause adverse side effects. So, if you are on any of the below medications, it is beneficial that you consult with your doctor about the safety of consuming Neem.

Interaction with Lithium Medication

If you are on lithium medication, you need to be watchful about including Neem in the diet. This is because Neem has “diuretic” properties that can create an imbalance in the levels of lithium in the body.

It may cause low amounts of lithium to expel from the body. When this happens, the levels of lithium in the body will increase. This can lead to chronic side effects. It is beneficial to consult with the healthcare provider before you use Neem.

Anti-diabetes Medications

Neem might lead to a reduction in blood sugar levels in the body. The same effect is obtained from diabetes medications. So, when you use Neem in conjunction with anti-diabetic drugs, then it further lowers your blood glucose levels.

It is important to monitor blood sugar levels closely. It may be required to modify the dose of diabetes medication. Care should be taken if you are on any of these anti-diabetic medications such as chlorpropamide, glimepiride glyburide, insulin, rosiglitazone, pioglitazone, glipizide, tolbutamide, etc.

Immunosuppressants Medication

People who have overly stimulated immune systems, are given immunosuppressants to restore the healthy functioning of the immune system. Neem is an immunity-booster agent that can stimulate the immune system and may reduce the efficacy of immunosuppressants. This can lead to side effects in the body.

You need to be careful when consuming Neem when taking any of these medications that lower the immune system such as azathioprine, basiliximab, daclizumab, mycophenolate, cyclosporine, tacrolimus, prednisone, corticosteroids, and others.

What Is The Ideal Dose To Consume Neem?

Being natural doesn’t imply that it is safe no matter how much you consume. It is important to follow relevant instructions mentioned on its product label. Also, consult your doctor about the right dose before you consume it.

There are several factors that you need to consider when identifying the proper dose of Neem. These include age, health, and various other conditions of the user. Your doctor will tell you the right dosage of Neem-based on the above factors.

Can I Eat Neem Leaves Daily?

Neem Leaves Benefits for Health

No. Neem leaves should not be consumed daily as prolonged consumption can damage your kidney and liver. It can lead to their failure. Neem oil is toxic for children, pregnant women, and lactating mothers, so they should not consume it. If you want to treat any health condition with Neem, you should only consume it under the supervision of a medical professional.

Talking about the frequency and duration of Neem consumption, doctors do not advise the daily intake of Neem. It can negatively impact your body. However, it is safe to consume it in moderate amounts for a specific duration.

Your healthcare provider will guide you about its dose, method of consumption, and duration of course. For the best results, chewing or swallowing Neem leaves on an empty stomach in the morning helps cure a variety of bodily infections and ailments. It is mostly advised in the month of Chaitra.

What Is The Best Way To Consume Neem Leaves?

You can reap the benefits of Neem in various methods:

Oral Consumption (Neem Leaves Powder)

You can either chew its leaves, prepare a paste or chutney and include it in your meals, or drink Neem juice. It will help purify your blood and detoxify your body. You get nourished, radiant, and purified skin.

However, due to the bitter taste of Neem leaves, many people find it unpalatable. Boil Neem leaves. Strain the water and add a little honey to it. This drink will strengthen your major organs and keeps you in the best health.

Topical Use

You can even topically apply its paste on your skin. This method is beneficial when you have to treat any external ailment of the body. Apply the Neem paste onto the skin to get an acne-free, and pimple-free blemishless skin naturally. You can also apply it on your scalp and hair to treat any microbial, fungal, or bacterial infection.

The topical application of the paste is helpful to treat blisters, burns, acne, infected wounds, etc. When the phytochemicals present in it penetrates into the skin, it boosts the immune system that helps in the speedy healing of wounds. However, before you apply it to the skin, it is recommended to take the approval of your doctor.

Also, before you apply the Neem paste on your skin, you should perform a patch test. Apply a little paste on the skin of your forearm, or leg. Wait for one day to see if you develop any signs of allergy or reaction. If you notice any redness, swelling, rashes, or any other type of discomfort, then you must consult with your doctor.

Neem extracts can also be added to your homemade facial packs, creams, and shampoos. Nowadays, you can find several cosmetic and beauty products such as soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, facial creams, nail paints, dental ointments, etc. enriched with the goodness Neem oil.

Conclusion

Ancient and modern studies confirm the miraculous nature of Neem for promoting overall health in a person. Neem leaves have remarkable anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antidiabetic, antimalarial, anticancer, and antipyretic, effects. All these attributes make it beneficial for the sound functioning of major organs of the body.

However, in order to get the maximum benefit from Neem, one should use it in regulated amounts. On noticing any side effects, it is important that you talk to your doctor about the dosage and safety of Neem leaves before you consume it.

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