Neem may stop herpes, staph, salmonella, strep

Viral viruses cannot stand the ancient Indian herb



Part One of Three Parts

40 to 50 percent of all modern drugs can trace their roots to medicines discovered in plants. From rauwolfia (for blood pressure) to gymnema (for sugar imbalances), the Indian subcontinent has been a particularly generous donor to medical science. One of the most intensively studied herbal medicines from India and utilized extensively in Ayurveda is neem (Azadirachta indica).

Neem is highly effective against disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Experimental in vitro studies show it to be effective against many gram-positive and gram-negative organisms, including staph, salmonella, and strep. Thus, neem may be helpful in reducing the risk of contracting peritonitis (inflammation of the abdominal cavity), cystitis (bladder infection), and meningitis (inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord), which are caused by staph. It may also help to protect against various types of food poisoning (caused by salmonella).

Read: Love Eating Out? Learn About Food Poisoning

Neem is also one of those rare medicinal herbs able to interact with cell surfaces to prevent viral infection. Neem may prove helpful in reducing risk of virally caused chickenpox, herpes zoster (shingles), herpes simplex 1 (cold sores), colds and flu, hepatitis (A and B), and mononucleosis.

“Neem extracts are some of the most powerful antifungal plant extracts found in [the] Indian pharmacopoeia against certain fungi,” says John Conrick, author of Neem—the Ultimate Herb (Lotus Press 2001).

How to Use: Drink two cups of neem leaf tea made with five neem leaves each. Alternatively, you may use neem leaf capsules or herbal tincture.

Indian mythology tells us the story of a time when Indra, king of the Celestials, was returning to Heaven. He had a golden pot filled with ambrosia taken from the Demons. Some of this precious ambrosia spilled from his pot, landing on a neem tree, blessing them powers lasting through eternity.

Read: 6 Herbs For High Eye Pressure

Scientists, of course, must go beyond myth and deal with factual evidence. An online search of Medline alone for the years 1966 to the present led to the retrieval of 1,017 scientific reports—and this excludes many highly respected Asian and other international journals.

Neem is used for conditions that range from first-aid for cuts and abrasions; fevers; food poisoning; herpes zoster; herpes simplex 1; sore throat; jock itch; athlete’s foot; yeast infection; thrush; parasites; use as a mosquito repellant; and for skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. And these are but a few of its documented topical and internal uses.

Neem’s proven antiseptic properties soothe minor cuts or abrasions. Its ability to enhance immune function in the localized area can help to hasten healing and reduce scarring.

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How to Use: Wash area with neem soap; apply neem cream (must contain at least one percent neem), and bandage.

Neem is strongly anti-pyretic (fever reducing) and used traditionally for fevers. In an experimental study, using crude neem extract rich in the anti-pyretic compound nimbidin, the herbal medicine outperformed aspirin.v Aspirin reduced fever by about one degree, but after two hours the temperature began to rise. Nimbidin, on the other, reduced fever by one degree after one hour and two degrees after two hours. At three hours, the fever rose by half a degree and stabilized.

How to Use: To reduce fevers in adults, drink two cups of neem leaf tea made with five neem leaves each. Alternatively, you may use neem leaf capsules or herbal tincture. (Neem is not recommended for children with fever due to the similarity of some of its compounds with aspirin.)

See Part Two: How Neem Protects Against Bugs and More

References i Siddiqui, S., et al. “Constituents of Azadirachta indica: isolation and structure elucidation of a new antibacterial tetranortriterpenoid, mahmoodin, and a new protoliminoid, naheedin.” Journal of Natural Products, 1992;55(3):303-310

ii Schneider, B.H. “The effect of neem leaf extract on Epilachna varivestis and Staphyloccous aureus.” 3rd International Neem Conference, Nariboi, Kenya, 1986:73.

iii Badam, L. ,et al. “‘In vitro antiviral activity of neem (Azadirachta indica A. Juss) leaf extract against group B coxsackieviruses.” J Commun Dis, 1999;31(2):79-90.

iv Conrick, J. Neem—the Ultimate Herb. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press, 2001. In press. v Pillai, N.R., et al. “Analgesic and antipyretic actions of nimbidin.” Bull Med Ethno Bot Res, 1980;1:393-400.
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