"Why Neem Oil?" and "What Is Neem Oil?" are questions often asked by seeking customers at our markets.
The Neem tree is said to be indigenous to the Indian subcontinent, there it is known as a sacred tree and also as The Village Pharmacy. Today, the Neem tree can also be found in many Asian countries and even in tropical areas of the Western hemisphere. The name Neem which some know as being derived from the Sanskrit word Nimba, meaning “Good Health”, was also called by the Vedas (ancient Indian literature) “Sarva Roga Nivarini” which means “One That Cures All Ailments”.
The medicinal properties of the Neem tree have been known and utilized in India for more than 4,000 years, but let’s break it down to understand why this plant has been the “chosen one” for so many centuries in the East.
First of all, Neem is an extraordinary perennial plant because of the high insecticidal compound contained primarily within the seeds of its fruit. This effective insecticidal compound is called Azadirachin. If you didn’t know this already, plant oils are normally derived from the seed of the fruit, which is the case here in the Neem plant. Therefore, if you put two and two together, it would make complete sense that it is absolutely NOT necessary to utilize harsh, toxic insecticides to keep the Neem plant from flourishing and producing an abundant healthy crop, because it naturally contains within itself the highest known natural insecticidal compound! At Cascadia, we source an Organic Neem Oil ensuring that the surrounding crops in the area are not sprayed with harsh chemicals, but in truth all Neem should be free of direct harsh insecticide sprays. Now, if you put three and three together, for all you gardeners out there: yes, you can use Neem oil as a natural insecticide in your own garden.
Neem oil is known for its anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-insect, and anti-aging properties to name a few. The anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties are due to the same insecticidal compound Azadirachin as mentioned above which is naturally contained within the Neem seed. The anti-inflammatory compounds in Neem are known as nimbidin and nimbin which help relieve swelling and redness. Along with the anti-inflammatory properties, there is an extremely high percentage of oleic fatty acid which is known for reducing inflammation. With the other combination of essential fatty acids (EFAs) contained within Neem oil, it is easy to understand why it is utilized for treating many inflammation-based skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and even aching joints. The EFAs along with vitamin E in Neem are easily absorbed into the skin without leaving it greasy, are non-comedogenic, and are said to prevent and treat scars from acne.
Neem oil contains high levels of antioxidants (as many plant oils do) that help protect the skin from environmental damage, just as they help the plants survive and thrive as they grow. Neem in particular contains carotenoids which are a class of phytonutrients that are found in the cells of a wide variety of plants. Usually you can notice if the plant is high in carotenoids by the food's bright yellow, orange, or red colour, such as the bright reddish-orange hue of rosehip oil, carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins. You will notice in Neem oil the bright yellow colour of the oil, this means the oil has NOT been de-colourized which is what you always want to look for when purchasing Neem or in fact any of your skincare oils. Speaking about oils NOT being de-colourized, it is also really important when purchasing your plant-based skincare oils, that they are also NOT de-odourized. Why? Because the process of de-odourizing and de-colourizing oils often requires very high temperatures that strip them of their many nutrients.
Once the powerful antioxidants contained within the oil are absorbed, they work to rejuvenate the skin’s cells and restore elasticity, helping to heal minuscule cracks brought on by severe dryness. They also stimulate collagen production which is beneficial for aging skin. If used regularly, Neem may help smooth wrinkles and fine lines while also helping to prevent the signs of aging.
Many countries have been sourced for their own unique elixirs such as Aloe Vera from Mexico, Tea Tree from Australia, Ginseng from Korea, and Ginkgo Biloba from China. Some research has said that Neem is likely to exceed them all. I believe the sacredness of Neem oil is making its way to the west, and will be a commonly utilized natural remedy for ailments as it’s been for centuries past in India.