Neem – Azadirachta Indica

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Botanical Synonyms

  • Antelaea Azadirachta
  • Melia Azadirachta

Benefits & Medicinal Uses of Neem

Azadirachta Indica is widely utilized to treat several health problems. It is known to exert antioxidant, anti-cancer, wound healing, and anti-microbial actions. It is one of those rare plants of which almost every part can be used for the treatment or prevention of disorders. Some of the health benefits of Neem are described beneath:

Cancer

Neem has been found to possess chemopreventive potential that can prevent carcinogenesis and thus, help in the management of cancer. The anticarcinogenic activity of Azadirachta Indica was studied in research by adopting the protocol of 7,12-dimethyl benz(a)anthracene (DMBA)-induced skin papillomagenesis and benzo(a)pyrene-induced forestomach. The primary findings of this study revealed the potential of Neem to induce a phase-II enzyme activity that led to the detoxification of carcinogens in the liver. This proves that Neem can help to detoxify the substances having the potential to trigger the development of cancer and thus, reduce the risk of developing the disease. The study showed raised levels of hepatic glutathione S-transferase and DT-diaphorase specific activities in the rats treated with the Neem extract. It also showed a significant rise in the activity of antioxidant enzymes such as hepatic glutathione reductase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, and catalase. (1)

This herb also has the potential to induce apoptosis. It is a process of programmed cell death that results in the destruction of the abnormal cancer cells. This helps to limit the growth and spread of cancer to the neighboring organs. This herb also acts as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent and protects the healthy cells from further damage. It reduces swelling and pain in the affected tissues and provides relief to the cancer patients. It scavenges the free radicals thereby preventing the gene mutations that may otherwise trigger the development of cancer.

Leukemia

The use of Neem has been found to be beneficial for the patients suffering from leukemia. Azadirachta Indica possesses pharmacological properties that help in the prevention and treatment of this condition. The Neem leaf extract can induce apoptosis of the leukemia cells. The link between the prevention of the NF-κB pathways and the stimulation of the apoptotic cell death was assessed in a study. During this research, the nature and the percentage of the induction of apoptosis were evaluated in the patients who were treated with the extract of the Neem leaf with or without the tumor necrosis factor. It was found that this extract induced apoptosis in K562 cells. The blocking of the NF-κB activity was demonstrated by the electrophoretic mobility shift assay and luciferase assay. The Western blot analysis showed the preventive effect of Neem extract on the TNF-α-dependent destruction of the IκB. These findings provide evidence for the apoptotic cell death and pro-inflammatory cell-signaling mechanisms of Neem that can contribute to the faster recovery of patients suffering from leukemia. (2)

Gastritis

Clinical studies conducted to evaluate the effect of Neem on the gastric secretion have shown encouraging results. It can help the patients suffering from gastritis to obtain relief from the symptoms of this disease such as abdominal pain, heartburn, sour eructations, nausea, and vomiting. Neem bark aqueous extract produces a potent antisecretory effect on the stomach and reduces the secretion of gastric acid. These properties were evaluated in research that included a group of patients suffering from hyperacidity. The lyophilized powder of the neem extract was administered to the patients twice daily. At the end of ten days, a significant reduction in the secretion of gastric acid was observed in these patients. The pepsin activity in the stomach was also reduced by 50%. This study proved that a regular use of Neem could help in treating gastritis. (3)

Peptic ulcers

Neem can be used to get rid of the symptoms caused by peptic ulcers. It also provides relief from the symptoms of this disease. It helps in the faster healing of the ulcers and prevents the recurrence of the illness. An experiment made to investigate the protective action of Neem on the ethanol-induced lesions in the gastric mucosa showed that the prior treatment with the Neem extract could prevent the gastric mucosal damage and the resulting risk of ulceration.

The anti-ulcerative property of this herb was studied in research in which the participants were administered 30 to 60 mg of Neem bark extract twice daily. The state of the healing was evaluated at the end of 10 weeks by endoscopy or barium meal X-ray. It showed complete healing of the ulcers in some patients. This study points to the therapeutic potential of Neem in the management of peptic ulcers. (4)

Liver disorders

Neem produces a strong hepatoprotective effect that can help in the management of several liver disorders. It is primarily beneficial in protecting the liver against the damage caused by the use of some drugs such as paracetamol and anti-tubercular medications. A study performed to evaluate the hepatoprotective role of azadirachtin-A, an active constituent of Neem, confirmed that the pretreatment of patients with this constituent could reduce hepatocellular necrosis. The Neem leaf extract was also found to offer protection against the liver necrosis induced due to the use of paracetamol in rats. The hepatoprotective activity of Azadirachta Indica can help the patients taking antitubercular drugs to avoid the damage to the liver due to these drugs. It also helps to prevent the changes in the levels of proteins, bilirubin, alanine aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, and aspartate aminotransferase significantly by inhibiting histological changes in the liver tissue. (5)

Wound Healing

The Neem leaf extract can be applied on the wounds to assist in their faster healing. The wound healing properties of this herb help in repairing the damaged tissues in a shorter period of time. This herb significantly promotes the wound healing activity in the incision and excision wound models. In incision wounds, it increases the tensile strength of the affected tissues. The wound healing activity of Neem is enhanced by its ability to regulate the inflammatory response and the process of neovascularization. (6)

Viral infection

Neem produces a strong antiviral activity and blocks the entry of HSV-1 into the cells thus protecting against the herpes simplex virus infection. The extract of Neem leaf also produces a virucidal activity against coxsackievirus virus and helps the patients recover faster. (7)

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