Neem Oil would have been a staple in my Nanima’s ayurvedic medicine cupboard. The neem tree grows predominantly in the Indian subcontinent and is prized for its non-toxic antiseptic, antifungal, antipyretic (as in ‘can reduce fever’) and antihistamine properties. Neem Oil is extracted from the seed kernel of Neem fruit.
Its use goes back centuries to ancient times. The Sanskrit word for Neem is ‘nimba’, meaning ‘good health’. Every part of the neem tree was used, back in the day--bark, seeds, fruits, flowers, leaves and roots. It was planted in gardens and it was said that benefit also came from simply interacting with the tree. A case for talking to plants if I ever heard one!
So, neem oil. What is it good for?
Neem and Skin
It rocks skin care! Neem's regenerative and immune boosting compounds help skin fight pathogens that are present below skin’s surface, keeping skin smooth, soothed and blemish-free. It is really beneficial for oily and acne-prone skin. The high amount of fatty acid in neem oil helps prevent and treat scars left by acne. And it likes to dissolve blackheads, too. Neem leaves have been effective for people suffering with itchy skin, rashes allergy and inflammation. Regular use of neem in oil form or powder in, say, a face mask, helps smooth, soothe and keep skin blemish free.
Neem and Hair
Neem oil is an ancient wise woman solution for healthy hair. It strengthens roots, and helps accelerate growth. It’ll tame the frizzies with deep conditioning and brings shine and vibrancy back to dull hair. Use Neem oil regularly as a hair mask for a healthy scalp and stronger, thicker, untangled hair. Yeah, it takes some time--it's not a quick fix. But it's the kind of fix that buildings on itself slowly for more long-term benefit. That’s just Nature’s way.
Got Dandruff? Neem to the rescue. Its medicinal properties will help moisturize and heal your scalp while maintaining PH levels. Mix up some All Purpose Neem Oil (see recipe below). Apply to hair and comb it through. This helps spread the oil evenly. Leave the oil in for an hour or two. Wash with a gentle shampoo.
Lice? No problem! Neem oil interferes with the feeding and reproduction of many insects, including lice. But you’ll need to up the amount of Neem in your All Purpose Neem Oil. Apply to hair. Leave in for an hour or two. Comb out with a lice comb. Wash with a gentle shampoo.
Neem and Feet
Got Cracked feet? Neem oil is rich in essential fatty acids, triglycerides, vitamin E and calcium. So its pretty effective at nourishing and repairing skin. This is really good news for people with dry, cracked heels. Neem oil will seep deep into the skin and help repair those cracks. Neem deals with common fungal skin infections--athletes foot and nail fungus--like a boss. And its antibacterial properties will help combat infections, while its soothing properties help calm itching and irritation. It's one of the reasons we include it in our Foot Salve.
Neem oil contains a compound called azadirachtin which repels insects like mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and ants. So it can be an natural alternative to commercially produced bug spray. Again, it does need to be diluted in a carrier oil before applying it to your skin. Try All Purpose Neem Oil at regular strength; go stronger if needed. Or if that seems like too much work, check out our natural bug repelling Shoo Fly! Neem is one of the key, active ingredients in it.
So are you ready to try a few recipes at home?
All Purpose Neem Oil
Neem is pretty concentrated stuff that needs diluting in a carrier oil, like Jojoba, before use on the skin or hair. You can use this blend to help with:
• Moisturizing your face
• Conditioning Hair and scalp
• Repelling Bugs
• Getting rid of Dandruff and Lice
You will need:
100 ml Carrier Oil. This could be Jojoba Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Almond OIl. Pick your favourite. Get some here
1-2ml Neem Oil (increase to 5ml for lice removal). This is the one we like.
Put carrier oil of your choice in a bottle, preferably one with a treatment pump or a nozzle for easier use. Add neem oil. Cap the bottle tightly. Mix by agitating -- that means hold the bottle on its side and tilt it back and forth until the neem oil is blended into the carrier oil. Apply as required.
Neem exfoliating Face Mask
This gentle, ayurveda-inspired blend is easy to whip up at home for some skin soothing and brightening while clearing breakouts. It brings together the healing properties of Neem powder, the moisturizing and antibacterial properties of honey and the cooling, astringent properties of rose petals.
You will need:
¼ cup dried rose petals. Here's one of the places I get mine.
2 tablespoons neem powder. Here's the one we like.
3 tablespoons raw or manuka honey. Go for one that is more liquid than thick. Here's one from Canada.
A coffee or spice grinder. Make sure its coffee or spice-free and cleaned before you use it.
1. Finely grind rose petals in the coffee grinder. It should be powder-like.
2. Combine neem powder, rose petal powder and honey in a bowl.
3. Test first. Put a small amount on part of your face to see if your skin likes it. If yes, proceed to 4.
4. Apply a small amount all over your face, avoiding the eyes. Let it sit on your skin for 15 or 20 minutes. If you’re tackling a breakout, leave it on for 45 minutes to an hour so that the ingredients have more time to work their magic. Put your feet up. Relax.
5. Gently rinse off with a warm washcloth.
So that's the skinny on Neem Oil. Give it a go if you have oily skin or dry, cracked feet.
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team