Loaded with nutrients, neem oil is used in natural skin care products because it contains high levels of antioxidants that help protect the skin from environmental damage. Neem also helps fight free radical damage in the skin because it contains carotenoids, which provide high antioxidant compounds. As a result, cold-pressed neem oil and neem extracts are widely used in cosmetics such as soap, hair products, cosmetics, hand creams and pet shampoos.
Neem oil is a yellow to brown, has a bitter taste, and a garlic/sulfur smell. While it doesn’t sound very attractive, neem oil can be very beneficial by providing an all-natural pesticide that controls both pests and diseases.
Neem oil is usually comprised of a mixture of components. Azadirachtin is the most active component and is actually used for repelling and killing pests. After the extraction of Azadirachtin, the portion left over is called clarified hydrophobic neem oil. As reported by Current Science, it works as an effective non-toxic insect control agent to agriculture.
Since neem is also especially high in important fatty acids and vitamin E and can quickly penetrate outer layers of skin, it is extremely effective in healing dry and damaged skin.
Neem oil offers wide-ranging skin care effects. It soothes wrinkles, stimulates collagen, relieves dry skin & reduces eczema and acne. Neem oil is rich in essential fatty acids (EFAs), triglycerides, vitamin E and calcium. Because of its EFAs and vitamin E, neem oil penetrates deep within the skin to heal the minuscule cracks brought on by severe dryness. Fatty acids present in the neem kernel oil are oleic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid and stearic acid.
The fatty acids and vitamin E found in neem oil are easily absorbed into the skin without leaving the skin greasy. Once absorbed, these powerful properties work to rejuvenate the skin’s cells and restore elasticity. Benefit-rich vitamin E acts as a free radical scavenger, by hindering the oxidizing processes in the skin. It promotes soft and supple skin, helps in reducing old scars and promotes healing.
Neem also stimulates collagen production, which is good for aging skin. Indeed, if used regularly, neem may help smooth wrinkles and fine lines while helping to prevent the signs of aging. Neem oil may prove to be a natural remedy for eczema symptoms, including dry, red, itchy skin and be very soothing, but it will not cure the root causes for eczema.
There are anti-inflammatory compounds known as nimbidin and nimbin that help relieve swelling and redness. Another compound known as quercetin supports the body’s ability to respond to inflammation by inhibiting both the manufacture and release of histamine and other irritants.
Neem oil, when used as a soap, is antimicrobial and helps people suffering from skin diseases such as acne because it can help to soothe irritation and inflammation by removing bacteria from the surface of the skin; therefore, preventing more break-outs.
Neem oil has been used in traditional folk medicine and as a home remedy for acne because of the aspirin-like compound that helps rid the skin of bacteria. It also helps reduce redness and inflammation. The high fatty-acid content in neem oil is said to prevent and treat scars from acne and is non-comedogenic. The leaves are also an excellent exfoliant that can be used in a facial mask to pull out impurities and tighten pores.
The Environmental Protection Agency has reported that neem oil, when combined with with certain approved agents, can be safe and effective against bed bugs both at home and in commercial environments. Performance trials conducted show that neem oil helps control bed bug adults, nymphs and eggs.
The EPA issued registrations for two new products: TER-TRU1, containing 5.5 percent cold-pressed neem oil, is a ready-to-use formulation for spot treatment by residential and commercial users; TER-CX1, containing 22.0 percent cold-pressed neem oil, is a concentrate formulation for commercial use in the treatment of whole rooms.
Neem is considered a safe, naturally occurring insecticide. The Journal of Insect Science notes that
… control programs using conventional insecticides to target anthropogenic mosquito habitats are very expensive because these habitats are widespread, particularly in cities of most African countries. Additionally, there are serious environmental concerns regarding large-scale application of most conventional insecticides. Clearly there is a need for alternative methods that are more effective, less expensive, and environmentally friendly. One such method would be the application of preparations made from parts of the neem tree, Azadirachta indica A. Jussieu (Sapindales: Meliaceae).
Azadirachtin is the important ingredient in neem oil that can help prevent unwanted pests from destroying plants. While there are other ingredients in neem oil spray that show insecticidal properties, Azadirachtin is responsible for 90 percent of the effect of neem oil insecticide.
EPA modeling of potential residues of neem oil following terrestrial treatments indicated that residues declined rapidly between applications and following the final application. Neem products do not provide absolute insect control; however, frequent applications can reduce pest populations dramatically by repelling them and inhibiting their larval development, growth, fertility, mating and egg laying, and deterring feeding.
How does it work? A solution of neem oil smothers insect pests and has antifungal properties as well. The oil coats the plant’s surface and prevents the germination of fungal spores. Neem oil can also be used as a safe, natural leaf polish, though some plants may be sensitive. It is always best to test first.
The American Orchid Society also reports that neem has been shown to ward off sand flies and mosquitoes, aiding in control of the spread of diseases such as malaria. It has been used to treat lice and scabies, and tea brewed from the leaf of the tree has been used for termite control. Neem, in the form of leaves, can be placed in the pockets of woolen clothing to fend off moths and added to stored grains and beans to help keep insects out.
Neem products are often used as a cattle-feed supplement to kill parasites. Because neem is relatively inexpensive, it’s even has been helpful to reduce post-harvest losses in developing countries.
Neem oil makes for a great natural mosquito repellent that is safe to use. As reported in the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, when 2 percent neem oil was mixed with coconut oil, then applied to the exposed body parts of human volunteers, it provided complete protection for approximately 12 hours from the bites of all anopheline species. They claim that the application of neem oil is safe and can even be used for protection from malaria in endemic countries.
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