|Azadirachta indica: Neem Tree|
Neem has been called The "tree of promise", this is an Indian Lilac, a large standing tree of the mahogany family. The Neem tree, Azadirachta indica, is native to the Indian subcontinent and has it's roots deep in historical uses of this culture. Used both internally and externally, this tree has been used as a "cure all" in many tropical cultures throughout the world.
|Immature Neem Seeds|
Every part of the Neem tree has medicinal and botanical uses; the branches, leaves, bark, fruits, flower and roots are all extreemly beneficial as they contain a compound called azadirachtin which gives this plant it's anti-septic, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic qualities.
|Fresh Harvested Neem Fruit|
Neem Oil is procured from the fruit of the Neem Tree. Often hand harvested, this oil has become a cash crop of the the tropics. Since being "discoverd" by the Western culture, demand for this precious oil has sky rocked. The oil it's self comes in an array of different colors, depending on methods of extraction and quality of how the Neem fruit has been handled.
Often times, the oils is obtained by crushing the interior kernal and extracting the oil it's self by methods of cold process or temperature controlled heating. In India, neem oil extractors, "Teli" or oil men, were considered as a specialized profession.
Recentally, hexane extraction has become a cheap and quick method in comparison of more traditional methods of oil extraction. It is important to note that this chemical extraction is always an inferior oil end product.
Lets begin to talk about the oil it's self. This oil is rich in Omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids. It also contains Palmitic acid and palmitoleic acid, the rarely known omega 7. These acids provide building blocks for hair, skin and nails, help combat wrinkles, increase elastin in skin, help maintain hydration and helps repair sun and oxidative damage to skin cells. It is widely considered for it's anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal properties.
Benificial Uses of Neem for Beauty
Hair: Neem is a natural cure for dandruff and dry scalp. Weekly applications of this oil have shown to reduce dandruff, cleanse hair folicals, strengthen individual hair strands, and promote growth. It can also be used to condition rough or frizzy hair as well as countering the effects of thinning hair due to stress, medication, pollution and more.
Skin: Neem has proven its effectiveness with eczema, psoriasis, and acne prone skin. Due to it's astringent properties, it helps with wound healing and skin dammage caused by the above said skin conditions. Neem helps fight acne by distroying the bacteria that causes break outs. Neem oil contains an asprin like compound that helps with on site pain relief while it's anti-inflammatory agents (nimbidin and nimbin compunds) help reduce redness and further inflammation. The high fatty acid content in this oil helps prevent scar tissue from forming and the oil it's self is non-comedogenic (or non pour clogging).
Neem naturally has a high level of anti oxidants which protect the skin from environmental dammage. It also contains carotenoids, an anti-oxidant, that helps defend the skin from free-radicals. All of the vitamin and esssential fatty acid content is readily absorbed into the skin, improving elastin, and smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles.
Neem can also be used to fight fungal infections of the skin, such as athletes foot, ring worm, nail fungus. Tests have proven that 2 compounds found in the leaves of the neem tree, gedunin and nimbidol, are effective against 14 different cultures of fungi.
DIY BEAUTY TIP:
*1 TBS: of you favorite Clay (bentonite, french green, kaolin to name a few)
*Add 3-5 drops of neem oil
*Add coconut oil or another liquid until the consistancy of tooth paste. Other liquids could
include: water, aloe vera water, hydrosol, any carrier oil of choice, milk, etc...
* Put on face in nice circluar motion and allow about 7-10 minutes to dry.
*Rinse with warm water just before clay mask gets totally dry. This is when the most of the
toxins have been pulled out and nothing is yet being taken back into the pores.
This mask is good to use on a weekly basis, much more and skin will begin to dry out. It is natural for our skin to produce oil and constant stripping of this natural process is less beneficial for our skin.