The Neem tree -Azadirachta Indica -
An evergreen, native to South India, that grows up to 60 ft high. It is found in the tropical dry deciduous/evergreen and thorny forests and drier parts of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. It has been planted and naturalized throughout Africa and grows in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Pakistan, Japan and tropical regions of Australia and America. Ancient Indian texts refer to Neem as Sarva Roga Nivarini, "the curer of all ailments."
The medicinal properties of Neem have been described in ancient Indian medical texts (4000 B.C.) such as the Atharva Veda, Ghrhyasutras and the Sutragranthas. The sanskrit name, nimba, is a derivative of the term nimbati syasthyamdadati-meaning 'to give good health'.
Literally, every part of the tree has a use. The leaf and bark are used in teas, cosmetics, skin care, pet care and medicinal preparations.
Neem twigs are used as tooth brushes and ward against gum disease.
Neem oil, which is extracted from the seed kernel is excellent for its healing properties and is used in creams, lotions and soaps. It is also used in agriculture. In recent years the growth hormone regulating and anti-feedant properties of Neem oil have prompted a considerable amount of research. The United States Department of Agriculture has been studying Neem since 1972.
The residue is Neem cake which is used in agriculture as a soil amendment, protecting the roots and enhancing plant growth.
When it comes to Neem so much is often left out of the conversation, the least of which are the 14 other types of Azadirachtin that are not contained in single compound isolates like Azamax et al. Comparing pure neem oil to these products is like comparing fresh squeezed orange juice to tang! The Neem tree contains hundreds of active compounds, mostly triterpenoids, that are responsible for its pesticidal properties. Meliantriol, Salannin, Nimbin, Nimbidin, Ochinolide, Azadirachtol, Azadirachnol, Azadiradione are a few that all have antifeedant properties all in their own right. Hundreds of other compounds like these, plus flavanoids/coumarins, phenos etc are all found, in varying quantities, throughout the Neem tree.
The Neem tree is a nutrient accumulating plant loaded with nutrients/minerals as well as a long list of unique sulphuric compounds. The importance of sulphur to plant growth is well documented including its role in increasing a plants flavor and aroma. In aromatic plants the aroma comes from the medicinal compounds including ‘terpenes’ all categorized as Plant Secondary Metabolites.
Neem thrives in the deserts and can be beneficial in areas of high heat and low rainfall by providing shade to the Earth and important green biomass needed to bring rainfall back and reverse the desertification of many areas of the globe. Neem improves soil fertilityf and the roots have a unique ability to mine Calcium. Organic matter in the soil increases along with water holding capacity & erosion control. Mycorrhizal fungi increase where the neem tre grows along with other microflora and earthworm populations.
So here we have a tree that can aid in healing the deserts, while at the same time providing an export (jobs for those in low income desert dwelling regions of the world) that will act as a natural pesticide for agriculture and a fertilizer for improving soils across the globe, improving the quality of our food and harboring / increasing the beneficial insects and microbes both above and below the soil. Providing beneficial shade in the desert, cooling the ground, and a home for bees to build their hives, feeding from the sweet nectar and rich pollen of the Neem flower.
There are some excellent resources for information on the various uses of neem. Some sites & papers we would like to recommend are:
Ahimsa Organics Neem Oil - OMRI Listed.
This is a premium Neem oil.
Wild-crafted, cold pressed from carefully stored seeds* of the Neem tree. This oil is perfect for skin care, animal care & herbal use or as an agricultural spray. It is rich in all the liminoids and compounds that have earned Neem oil it's title as A Tree For Solving Global Problems. The oil is guaranteed free of aflatoxin* which is a fungus that can grow on poorly cleaned or stored seeds. It has a strong garlic/nutty aroma - unpleasant to some but loved by those who have experienced it's healing and protective powers.
NOTE-Neem Oil is mainly composed of glycerides of palmitin, stearin, and linolic acids. Neem Oil is similar to Palm Oil. Both oils deposit stearin at low temperatures and especially after they solidify. This process is repeated with each cycle of freezing and thawing. Neem Oil has a high wax content and therefore clouds at 16 C (60.8 F) and tends to solidify at 12 C (53.6 F). At temperatures below 5 C (41 F), Neem Oil is solid and on thawing will deposit stearin. This can be filtered out if needed.
It is also normal to find creamy globules of fatty acid deposits in Neem Oil stored at room temperature. These will melt on thawing.
Ahimsa Organics Neem Oil is independently verified to be free of any pesticides or harmful levels of any metals.
This is pure, unformulated oil and is not registered for use as an insecticide, fungicide or for any specific herbal use.
The Karanja tree- Pongamia Glabra
Widely distributed in tropical Asia. The tree is hardy and drought resistant. The 'Pongam' tree is commonly found in India and grows to a height of about 1 m.
The oil of the Karanja or Pongam is used in pharmacy and in agriculture. Like, neem oil, it is excellent for skin and hair and used in the manufacture of soaps, creams, lotions and other skin and hair care products.
A mixture containing equal amounts of neem and karanja oil is very effective on animals for skin problems.
Good resources for more information on Karanja are:
Ahimsa Organics Karanja Oil - OMRI Listed
Another premium oil - from the Karanja tree.
Wild-crafted, cold pressed from carefully stored seeds* of the Karanja tree. This rich oil is perfect for skin care, animal care & herbal use. And as an agricultural spray - on it's own or combined with Neem oil. Guaranteed free of aflatoxin.
Ahimsa Organics Karanja Oil is independently verified to be free of any pesticides or harmful levels of any metals.