Tips on Using Neem Oil: Guide to Getting the Best Use out of Neem Oil
What is Neem Oil?
From times immemorial, neem has been used for both its medicinal and insecticidal properties and has been considered sacred, to the effect that it symbolises protection and good health. Neem oil comes from the seed of the tropical neem tree and with a harsh odour and is rich in fatty acids and other nutrients. With other ingredients like limonoids, vitamin-E, antioxidants, triglycerides and calcium as well, neem oil is known to be extremely beneficial for skin care as well as being useful in the making of a variety of beauty products that include hair-care, cosmetics, body lotions and skin care creams.
How is Neem Oil Extracted?
Obtained from seeds, fruits and seed kernels by the cold pressing methods, steam or high-pressure extraction or solvent extraction, neem carrier oil extraction involves removing the pulp off the seeds to begin with, air drying the seeds in a cool place with low humid conditions and then removing the husk from the seeds before extraction. During the cold press, fresh and light green kernels are crushed & pressed to extract their oil which is collected later. Fresh seeds yield a light coloured oil with a slightly tolerable and lighter fragrance, while kernels that are old/rancid result in a darker oil extract with a strong and unpleasant odour that is quite similar to that of sulphur. The cold-press method leads to the highest quality of virgin oil with all the active components, while a second pressing results in the oil that’s best suited for manufacturing insect repellents and soaps.
How is Neem Oil Useful for Skin Care?
According to numerous research studies that support the use of neem oil in skin care, neem oil is all natural and beneficial for a variety of skin conditions including anti-ageing treatment, skin disorders and more. Fairly inexpensive, and easy to use, neem oil blends easily into your skin and also with other oils. And though its safe, neem oil is extremely potent and may cause allergic reactions to some people with sensitive skin or conditions like eczema.
The best way of using neem oil on the skin is to begin by trying a small and diluted amount of the oil on a small area of your skin, say, the elbow. If itching or redness appears then you should either dilute it further or not use it at all! Neem oil should not be used for children or pregnant women.
Uses of Neem Oil: A Veritable Gold Mine!
When used topically, neem oil can help soothe varied skin ailments, reduce inflammation and eliminate fever, in addition to dissolving join and muscle pain. It can be applied to the skin as a toner that restores moisture to the face and eliminates any pathogens underneath the skin’s surface, making it radiant and feeling healthier!
For dry skin, neem carrier oil can be blended with coconut oil before application, with a few drops of lavender or lemon essential oils for a pleasant fragrance. If used to treat acne, neem carrier oil can be mixed with olive oil before application and left for an hour and then rinsed off with water.
For lightening the skin that’s been suffering from hyperpigmentation, a few drops of neem oil can be applied with a cotton bud to regulate the melanin production. While soaking your nails in a few drops of the oil can treat any infection (twice or thrice daily) and having a bath with neem oil drops in the water can remove scabies, itching and inflammation.
When used in hair care, neem oil can remove dandruff and restore the hair natural pH level preventing any recurrence of dandruff. It can also detangle hair, prevent hair thinning and promote hair growth that’s healthier. Regular applications of the oil to your scalp moisturises the hair from the roots to the tips, maintains scalp health and repairs split-ends as well. It also rejuvenates and fortifies dull & frizzy hair by conditioning it and restoring its lustre. 2 tbsp of neem oil can be heated and applied to the hair to eliminate lice, wrapped in a towel and left overnight. The oil can be rinsed off with a herbal shampoo the next morning. Neem oil can also be used in combination with coconut oil for deep conditioning.
Gum inflammation like gingivitis which usually leads to a disease called periodontitis, can be eliminated with neem oil as an oral remedy. From bleeding gums to toothache to foul breath, neem’s antiseptic properties can keep your gums and teeth healthy. With its antibacterial and antifungal properties, neem oil can prevent gum inflammation and cavities. You can add a few drops of neem oil to your toothpaste and brush with it. Neem in powder form can be mixed with baking soda and made into a paste, to be applied for cleaner and shinier teeth or gargle with boiled neem water for pleasant breath and whiter teeth.
Pesticides that are synthetic and work on contact, tend to build up in the surrounding atmosphere leaving behind toxic residue that’s harmful and can even adversely affect pets and other animals. Neem oil is biodegradable and non-toxic, safe for wildlife, livestock, birds, pets and other animal species. Being a natural derivative, neem oil does not create a dead zone around the treated plants, trees or shrubs and only targets the leaf affecting and chewing insects. It can eliminate insects at any stage of their growth and affects insects as an antifeedant, a hormone disrupter and smothers them. Neem oil can help get rid of over 200 insect species that include aphids, scale, mites, leaf hoppers, caterpillars, white flies, thrips and mealybugs.
Considered a universal remedy, neem oil can treat varied gastrointestinal ailments as well. Owing to disturbed pH levels in the stomach and intestines, such ailments cause acidity and ulcers, and neem oil can help balance, restore and maintain the pH levels, healing the issues effectively and relieving pain as well. Neem can reduce the amount of acid and its anti-inflammatory & anti-bacterial properties can relieve digestive disorders like dysentery, hyperacidity, diarrhoea and constipation.
With its numerous immune boosting properties, neem oil can help prevent different types of cancer. Medicinal properties of neem protect the body from the effects of antibodies. Neem extracts in the form of seeds, fruits, flowers or leaves have been known to show chemo-preventive and anti-tumour effects in different forms of cancer consistently. There have been studies on neem extracts demonstrating that it helps in sensitising cancer cells to radiotherapy/immunotherapy and enhancing the efficacy of particular cancer chemo-therapeutic agents. However, most of these studies still need validation and certifications. Ideally, neem oil tablets should be consumed by cancer patients only after proper medical consultation with an experienced professional.
Neem oil therapy has been a trusted home remedy for long and has been known to treat some serious health issues like small pox and chicken pox. Its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties not only ensure that the viruses are eliminated but also that they don’t recur. It is also a trusted cure for those of you suffering from herpes and hepatitis B virus (HBV). Numerous research over the past 50 years has shown that neem oil inhibits the growth of innumerable viruses that include polio, HIV, dengue and coxsackie B group in their early stages. And although it hasn’t been proven nor is there any scientific evidence to prove this, but neem can help in building up your immunity to fight COVID-19 infection.
Medicinally, neem carrier oil contains elements that prevent and get rid of fungal infections, soothe irritation and eradicate bacteria causing such irritations, can calm skin ailments like athlete’s foot, ringworm, cold sores and nail fungus. It can also eliminates scabies and head live by smothering the parasites, reducing inflammation and facilitating speedy healing by increasing the flow of blood to the affected area, and help create collagen fibres and strengthen firm and shaped skin. Neem oil can soothe skin affected by wounds, cuts, mosquito bites, when used in combination with another carrier oil or Vaseline. For athlete’s foot, neem oil can be added to a tub of warm water for a foot soak, it can also remove warts when applied directly to the affected area once daily.
Cosmetically, neem carrier oil is anti-inflammatory, regulating, moisturising, and pediculicidal. In skin care, neem oil can work magically as beauty and skin care products often include neem oil in the form of essential oil. With a predominant place in aromatherapy products, neem oil helps reduce stress and can restore mental well-being. You can also use neem oil and make an anti-ageing cream. 30 ml of pure neem oil with 200 ml jojoba oil and 4-5 drops of pure lavender oil blended together can be applied to the skin as a moisturiser twice a day.
Other External Uses
Used in several pet-care products, neem oil can help protect animals from dangerous skin diseases and can be sprayed in areas where pets spend maximum time to prevent the furry friends from contracting infections or skin conditions. Neem seed oil makes for an ideal natural mosquito repellent. Mixed with coconut oil and applied to the exposed body part, it can help protect you from bites of all anopheline species for nearly 12 hours. Widely used for protection against malaria, neem oil restricts mosquito breeding by repelling them with its effect and odour. Neem oil also serves as a home remedy in soothing small cuts and bruises, keeping infections far far away! It can work as an effective form of birth control as well. However, all this is best done under medical guidance.
Bonus Tips: Contraindications of Neem Oil
Recognised to possess medicinal properties for over 2,000 years now, neem oil has been used extensively not only in Ayurveda but also in medicinal processes of Homeopathy and Unani medication. With chemical constituents like palmitic acid, vitamin C, oleic acid, carotenoids, stearic acid and linoleic acid, neem oil is known to have several therapeutic benefits, but it does also have its share of contradictions:
- As is true for most aromatic products, carrier oils are only meant for external use and neem oil, hence cannot be ingested. It should definitely not be used near or on children and before use, a patch test should be conducted to check for any skin sensitivities.
- Owing to its potential abortifacient properties that can weaken fertility or induce miscarriage spontaneously, the use of neem carrier oil is best avoided by women who are trying to conceive or are pregnant. Those who have nut allergies should also avoid neem oil as neem seeds are essentially neem nuts.
- If you are suffering from ailments like lupus, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, you should avoid using neem oil as it can boost the symptoms of these diseases and diminish the efficacy of medications that are taken to prevent organ rejection as well. It is best avoid the use of neem oil during or after surgery for at least 2 weeks, as it may lead to low blood sugar levels.
- Neem oil ingestion can be toxic and can lead to metabolic acidosis, kidney failure, seizures, severe brain ischemia in infants and young kids. In India, where neem oil is used widely, there have been cases of neem oil poisoning in infants where they were given single doses of neem oil and adults as well. Adults displayed features of toxic encephalopathy, hepatic toxicity and metabolic acidosis. However, in adults short-term use of neem oil in very small quantities is safe.
- Neem oil though non-toxic to humans and mammals, if administered properly, can be harmful for fish species at higher concentration and hence should be avoided in being introduced to water bodies.
- Those of you with kidney or liver diseases should not use neem oil without a doctor’s consultation. Even if you are on immunosuppressive medication you should avoid neem in any form as it can counteract with the essential medicines.
Use Neem Oil Extensively, However with a Little Caution
As you would have realised by now there are so many benefits of neem oil and you can use it in multiple applications. It is however prudent to always seek medical advise in case you are contraindicated or not sure about a particular application of the oil. We hope that you would have loved this BP Guide. Stay connected with us for more such engaging content.