Newly Discovered Miracle
by MEAGHAN BYERS
If you read the positively rhapsodic
words of neem tree proponents, you would think there is almost
nothing this plant can't do.
Dubbed "the miracle tree" and "the wonder tree",
the neem tree is known in India as "the village pharmacy".
It is used to prevent gum disease, to act as a pesticide/herbicide,
to relieve skin ailments like eczema and psoriasis, to ditch intestinal
worms, to stop chronic diarrhea (or constipation!), to relieve
ulcers, to reduce fevers, to ease pain,to fix pimples and hemorrhoids,
to cure headaches, and to act as an antibacterial and anti-viral
agent. Neem can even work as a contraceptive for men and women!
Neem bark, leaves, oil, sap, twigs, seeds, roots, flowers, and
fruits all have medicinal properties. On top of all this, neem
is used to feed cattle and sheep, build houses, supply firewood,
provide mulch, improve soil,make soap. No wonder the United Nations
declared neem the tree of the 21st century!
Though Neem did not hit the headlines in North America and Europe
until the last decade, India has used it for over four thousand
years. Neem is a Sanskrit word that means "to bestow health"
and was an ingredient in over 50% of Ayurvedic preparations (Ayurveda
is the name of the Indian system of medicine). Scientists in India,
Europe, and North America are working diligently to uncover the
spectrum of potential uses for neem.
Given that much of the interest in neem has really only sprouted
in the last decade or so, the medicinal uses of its seeds, bark,
oils, and leaves are still being explored by formal, scientific
research methods. Currently there are few studies available on
the anti-viral properties of neem. It could be quite some time
before more is known.
Studies have traditionally isolated the active compounds in herbs
and plants and then conducted tests on those compounds. Because
neem has over 100 active compounds and because no data exists
regarding which ones work together and how, isolating the active
compounds is not an effective way to study it. Preliminary data
does seem to indicate that it may have an impact on the ability
of viruses to multiply and spread.
Neem's ability to ward off the numerous and common place infections
that are associated with AIDS also makes it very attractive for
people living with HIV. The studies currently available through
medical journals were all conducted on rats and mice and were
not specifically testing neem and HIV. What these studies do indicate
is that with certain groups of viruses, neem activates macrophages
and lymphocytes. Mice given neem leaves show immunopotentiating
effects, meaning the oil of neem stimulates their immune systems
in laboratory tests.
Finally, the Ayurvedic approach to treatment views healing as
the process of regaining balance in the body. For this reason,
it is extremely rare in Ayurveda to use any one element as a cure-all.
From this perspective, the use of neem for every ache, pain, and
sore would not be recommended, though it still sounds quite beneficial
for a number of complaints.
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article on the BCPWA
By enhancing the cellular immune response most pathogens can be
eliminated before they cause the ill feeling associated with disease.
This mechanism could also help in diseases that involve the immune
system, like AIDS.
Taking neem leaf or bark powder every other day or drinking a
mild neem tea will enhance antibody production and the body's
cell-mediated immune response, helping to prevent infections.
Neem has immuno-stimulating properties for both the lymphocytic
and cell-mediated immune systems. When human white blood cells
infected with HIV were cultured with neem extracts, the production
of viral proteins dropped dramatically. Dr. Upadhyay and Dr. Berre'-Sinousi,
(one of the
scientists who identified the AIDS virus), believe the neem extracts
block production of viral proteins thereby stopping replication
of the virus....READ MORE
Studies of the effects of neem bark and neem leaf extracts show
they significantly reduced the P-24 viral proteins and induced
in vitro production of IL-1 interferon (Upadhyay, et al, 1993).
The National Institutes of Health, in a preliminary study, reports
from in vitro tests where neem bark extracts killed the AIDS virus.
Another possible effect neem may have on combating the AIDS virus
is its apparent ability to enhance the cell-mediated immune response
to infection. Using extracts made by soaking neem bark in water,
Der Nat (Netherlands) determined that the extract produces a strong
The neem bark extract stimulated lymphocyte function which increased
production of MIF, a lymphokine that attaches macrophages and
monocytes to infectious agents. (Upadhyay, et al, 1990).
Believed to be the first line of defense against HIV infection,
(Caldwell, 1994) neem's ability to enhance the cell-mediated immune
response may provide protection from vaginal contraction of the
disease if neem is used as a vaginal lubricant before intercourse.
If even only
partially successful in preventing the spread of AIDS, until scientists
develop a cure, neem could save countless lives.
In cases where HIV has not advanced to full-blown AIDS some of
to have the enhanced cell-mediated immune responses (Caldwell,
1994) that neem can help produce. However, once contracted, AIDS
may be treated by ingesting neem leaf extracts, whole leaf or
by drinking neem tea.
Many of the complications associated with AIDS can also be treated
with neem leaf or bark and creams.
Lesions of the skin or burning sensations have been successfully
treated with neem leaves added to bath water and by creams containing
Neem Hair and Body Shampoo