Neem's traditional use is based on its detoxifying benefits that help maintain healthy circulatory, digestive, respiratory and urinary systems. Neem is used for a wide variety of infectious problems, as an insect repellant, for heart disease, diabetes, and even as a birth control substance.
Ayurvedic medicine considers neem to be especially effective as a medicated oil for the treatment of skin infections, inflammatory skin conditions, joint pain, and muscle aches. Its principle constituents are nimbin, nimbinin and nimbidin. All parts of the plant yield b-sitosterol. The highest concentrations of the active ingredients are found in the seed and oil, however the active ingredients are also found in lesser amounts in the bark and the leaves.
One of the most powerful blood purifiers and detoxifiers in Ayurvedic usage, neem is often used to maintain healthy skin. There is plenty of scientific backup for Neem's immune enhancement properties as a booster of the macrophage's effectiveness. Scientific studies indicate that neem boosts the immune system by energizing lymphocytes cells to respond to infection and other challenges to the body's immunity.
Neem has proved effective against certain fungi that infect the human body. Such fungi are an increasing problem and have been difficult to control by synthetic fungicides. For example, in one laboratory study, Neem preparations showed toxicity to cultures of 14 common fungi:
- Trichophyton – an ‘athlete’s foot’ fungus that infects hair, skin and nails
- Epidermophyton – a ‘ringworm’ that invades both skin and nails of the feet
- Microsporum – a ‘ringworm’ that invades hair, skin and(rarely) nails
- Trichosporon – a fungus of the intestinal tract
- Geotrichum – a yeast like fungus that causes infections of the bronchi, lungs and mucous membranes
- Candida – a yeast-like fungus that is part of the normal flora but can get out of control, leading to lesions in mouth (thrush), vagina, skin, hands and lungs.