Monday, January 12, 2009
From the very beginning of recorded human history, people have used the mysterious Azadirachta indica or neem tree. Today, rural Indians call this tree their "village pharmacy" because of claims it "cures" diseases and disorders ranging from bad teeth and bedbugs to ulcers and malaria. The seeds, bark and leaves contain compounds called limonoids with proven antiseptic, antiviral, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer and antifungal uses.
The Neem Foundation suggests that a Neem tree needs little water and plenty of sunlight. The tree grows naturally in areas where the rainfall is in the range of 20 to 45 inches. It tolerates drought well but cannot withstand water-logged areas and poorly drained soils. Some small scale plantations are reportedly successful in the United States.
Neem tree is a cousin to mahogany. Neem also has a close relative called Chinaberry that grows in the United States.