Neem (or Niem) has been part of Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. The neem tree is considered a good luck charm and is used in Hindu religious rituals. However, neem is also becoming increasingly popular in Europe due to its diverse effects. Neem is best known as an oil. More and more medicinal effects of neem are being found.
You can find out what these effects are in our neem test 2022. We want to give you an understanding of the current state of research on neem, as well as answer some important questions on the subject. We have also selected some examples of very good neem products so that you can find the right neem for your needs.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Summary
- 3 The Best Neem: Our Picks
- 4 Buying and evaluation criteria for neem products
- 5 Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying neem products
- 5.1 What is neem and how does it work?
- 5.2 What side effects can neem have?
- 5.3 When and for whom is the application of neem useful?
- 5.4 Which parts of the plant are processed by the neem tree?
- 5.5 What types of neem preparations are there?
- 5.6 How should neem be dosed?
- 5.7 Can I also use neem on my pet?
- 5.8 How should I treat plants with neem for it to work?
- 5.9 What alternatives are there to neem?
- The neem tree grows in India and has long been known there as a medicinal plant. Various parts of the tree are used in Ayurvedic medicine.
- The best-known use of neem is as a pesticide. In gardens and agriculture it is effective against many pests.
- Neem also has medicinal uses. Its antibacterial effect has already been proven, as well as its use against skin diseases, lice and more.
The Best Neem: Our Picks
Buying and evaluation criteria for neem products
Neem products are available for many applications. We have briefly summarised below what you should generally look for when choosing the right neem product.
What is meant by these points in detail, we will explain in the next paragraphs.
Area of application
Which neem preparation is the right one for your needs depends primarily on what you need it for.
There are various products made from neem oil for plant protection and pest control.
Since neem can also fight lice, bacteria and skin diseases (more on this later), there are also toothpastes, creams and shampoos with neem.
However, the oil is not suitable as a food supplement. Instead, you should take capsules or tea with neem powder.
If you buy a neem product, you should make sure that it is a high-quality product. This is usually correspondingly expensive, but especially with medicinal products it is advisable to look first at the quality and then at the price.
With neem oil, the following also applies: high-quality oil is cold-pressed. The gentle cold pressing of the neem seeds is considered the best method of neem oil production, as possible residues are eliminated.
A high-quality oil is therefore cold-pressed.
Neem oil or neem capsules should always be made of pure neem and should not contain any additives. Artificial additives in particular should be avoided, because then the advantages of a herbal product are no longer given.
Additional herbal ingredients such as lavender provide a pleasant fragrance in neem products.
However, if you buy cosmetic or care products, a few additional ingredients can't hurt. Neem itself has a bitter taste, which is why neem products often do not smell very pleasant. The strong smell can be counteracted with fragrant ingredients such as lavender.
Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying neem products
In order to inform you comprehensively about the effectiveness of neem and to give you an understanding of the current state of science, we have summarised all the important information in the following sections.
What is neem and how does it work?
The healing effects of its components have also been known in Europe for a long time.
In natural medicine, the neem tree is often considered a panacea and is used to make oils, ointments, creams and tea. In fact, a variety of effects of neem extracts have been scientifically proven in the meantime.
Neem has a general effect:
- Antibacterial (1, 2)
- Anti-inflammatory (2)
- Against fungi and viruses (2)
Among other things, the active ingredient nimbidin is responsible for this. It is found in the seeds of the neem tree and is being extensively researched in science in order to be able to produce effective medicines based on neem.
Effective components have also been found in the leaves and bark of the tree, which are used in a variety of ways in medicine. (2)
An overview of the most important applications can be found in the following sections.
Neem for healthy skin, hair and teeth
Neem extracts can be found in various cosmetic or medical care products.
One well-studied application for neem is in toothpaste. Clinical studies have shown that toothpaste with neem helps to improve oral health (3).
The bark of the neem tree in particular is used for the production of such pastes. Neem toothpaste is also suitable for targeting bacteria in the oral cavity (4).
In shampoo, neem can also prove useful as it can help against lice. The effectiveness of some neem-based lice remedies has already been confirmed in scientific studies (5).
Neem kills both the already hatched lice and the larvae after only a few treatments.
In general, neem is said to be effective against skin diseases and irritations. The effects found in clinical studies were not as strong as with other medicinal plants, such as common mahonia. However, some studies were able to show an effect for neem against skin diseases (6).
Since herbal treatment methods are usually associated with fewer side effects than pharmaceutical drugs, further research is being conducted on the individual components of neem in order to be able to use the effective components specifically in the treatment of skin diseases. (7)
The bark of the neem tree can be used against herpes type I due to its antiviral properties (8). Studies suggest that neem directly attacks the virus responsible for the outbreak of herpes. Extracts from the bark of the neem tree can therefore be a good alternative to chemical herpes treatments.
In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, neem oil is also used for chronic, i.e. non-healing wounds. In clinical tests, this effect was scientifically investigated and a significant effect was indeed found for neem oil: After eight weeks of treatment, 50% of the wounds of the patients examined had healed. (9)
All in all, some studies suggest that neem for application on the skin, hair or teeth can indeed be an effective remedy for many ailments.
Neem against ulcers and tumours
As a so-called panacea, neem has also been used to treat ulcers and tumours. This earned the plant the reputation of even being effective against cancer.
Since an inhibitory effect of neem on some ulcers had already been found in animal experiments, there are now also clinical studies on humans. Some studies have shown that neem can indeed stop the growth of some tumours and heal some ulcers (10, 11).
Neem showed a significant effect on ulcers in the digestive tract (12) and tumours on female genital organs (13).
Neem can be effective against certain ulcers and tumours. However, it is not yet a cure for cancer.
However, this does not mean that neem is a cure for cancer. For one thing, not every ulcer is a cancerous tumour. The effects found referred, for example, to stomach or intestinal ulcers, which are triggered by excessive production of stomach acid (12) and are considered to be easily curable anyway.
On the other hand, neem is mentioned in the research results as a possible component of the therapy. This does not mean that taking neem alone is enough to treat tumours.
Neem as a contraceptive
On many websites about naturopathy, neem is also listed as a contraceptive. Women should chew the leaves of the neem tree daily or rub neem oil into their vagina before sexual intercourse to prevent pregnancy.
Sometimes it is also recommended for men to swallow neem capsules regularly to prevent conception. But does neem really protect against unwanted pregnancy?
If you look at the studies on this, the answer is: maybe. It has been shown in rats that neem oil in the uterus prevents the implantation of eggs (14). Even if fertilisation had already taken place, neem extract could lead to abortions in the rodents. (15)
However, this effect has not yet been sufficiently investigated in humans.
However, it was shown that neem is indeed able to kill human sperm completely (16). This means that neem oil in the vagina could actually ensure that the sperm do not make it to the egg.
However, before resorting to this contraceptive method, one should be aware that neem oil - and herbal contraceptive methods in general - have not yet been scientifically tested for their reliability.
Even if neem does indeed have the ability to prevent pregnancy, this does not mean that it works reliably in every case.
To sum up: Neem does have contraceptive properties, but as a method of preventing unwanted pregnancies it is very unsafe. Therefore, the use of neem should not be lightly preferred to classical contraceptive methods.
Neem against pests
One of the most common uses of neem in Europe is pest control. The neem oil extracted from the seeds of the neem tree is sprayed as a plant protection on infested crops or home plants.
The effectiveness of the oil in agriculture and in the garden has been scientifically confirmed. (17, 18)
Neem oil can also be used against mosquito infestations, as it kills the larvae. (19)
During the production of neem oil, there are residues that also still contain important active ingredients. These residues are processed into the so-called neem press cake and then used to improve the agricultural soil. (17)
In animals, neem can also be used to treat worm infestations. Here, too, the effect of neem as a pest control has been scientifically proven. (20)
Other effects of neem
The fact that neem is said to have a general health-promoting effect could be due to the fact that it supports the immune system. Studies have shown that neem stimulates certain cells of the immune system so that they can react more quickly to viruses. (21)
Because of neem's versatile mechanisms of action, research is also being conducted into other possible applications. There are already indications that neem could be effective as a therapeutic agent for the following diseases:
- Kidney damage: Since some drugs, such as cisplatin, have significant side effects, research is being done to find ways to counteract these side effects without causing further damage. In an experiment with rats that had suffered kidney damage from cisplatin, neem proved to be a possible protection against kidney damage when treated with cisplatin. (22)
- Diabetes: In a laboratory study with diabetic rats, neem was tested as a possible treatment agent. The results showed that neem significantly improved glucose tolerance in these rats. Thus, it can possibly be used as part of the treatment of type 2 diabetes. (23)
- Fever: Neem is also considered to reduce fever in natural medicine. However, we have no reliable evidence of this effect.
Which components cause which effects and how neem can be successfully used in natural and conventional medicine is currently still being investigated.
What side effects can neem have?
Even though this effect is not safe as a contraceptive method, it can still lead to abortions of pregnancy in some.
There is also evidence that neem can be toxic in high doses. The toxicity of neem has already been studied in rats and mice (24, 25, 26).
It is not known exactly how dangerous an overdose of neem really is for humans.
It is essential to pay attention to the stated dosage of neem products.
As a precaution, however, it is recommended not to exceed the stated daily dose when taking neem capsules or powder. Otherwise, nausea and vomiting could occur.
The highly concentrated neem oil is generally intended for external use and should not be swallowed due to the risk of overdose.
When and for whom is the application of neem useful?
Neem can also be effective for combating various diseases and ailments, as described above. For those who prefer to use herbal remedies for their own health, neem is a good choice. Consultation with an expert is definitely recommended.
Which parts of the plant are processed by the neem tree?
|Part of the rivet tree||used for ...|
|Bark||production of creams and toothpaste|
|Leaves||tea / infusions, products for oral hygiene|
|Seeds||production of neem oil|
The seed of its fruit is used for the production of the sought-after neem oil. However, the bark and leaves are also used in natural medicine.
What types of neem preparations are there?
Roughly, these many products can be divided into three forms of neem:
- Neem oil
- Neem capsules
- Neem powder or tea
What these forms are used for in detail and what advantages or disadvantages they have, you will learn in the following sections.
The most common form in which neem is sold is neem oil. It is made from the seeds of the neem tree and is often highly concentrated.
Neem oil is not suitable for internal use. Instead, it is used to make ointments, creams and shampoo. Neem oil is also used for plant protection.
Pure neem oil can also be used as skin care. For example, if you have neurodermatitis or psoriasis, you can carefully apply the pure oil to the affected areas to kill the bacteria and prevent inflammation.
Neem oil can also be used against lice by rubbing it into the scalp when washing the hair.
All in all, a wide variety of ointments, care products and plant protection products can easily be made from neem oil.
Neem capsules are sold as dietary supplements for ingestion. They are in lower doses than neem oil and can therefore be swallowed.
However, it is essential not to exceed the daily dose recommended by the manufacturer, otherwise unpleasant side effects and overdoses may occur.
The purpose of these capsules is said to be to strengthen the immune system and supply the body with bitter substances. Due to its antibacterial effect, neem is also said to have a preventive effect against diseases. How strong this preventive effect is, however, still needs to be investigated.
Neem powder or tea
Neem tea is often drunk in Ayurvedic medicine to strengthen the immune system and protect the body from bacteria.
The leaves of the neem tree contain a lot of bitter substances, which makes the tea not very tasty. Nevertheless, tea lovers can buy powder and ready-made tea preparations.
How should neem be dosed?
For adults, this maximum dose is usually 20 - 50 ml per day, for children it is only 5 ml. However, these figures are very general. Depending on the amount of neem extract contained in the product you buy, these values may change.
If you use neem as a plant protection, a sparing dosage is also sufficient. Just a few millilitres of neem oil per litre of water are enough to control pests.
Can I also use neem on my pet?
If your little darling has a parasite problem, you can ask your vet for his opinion on neem products.
How should I treat plants with neem for it to work?
Both variants are best sprayed on the plants in the morning, when the sun is not yet shining directly on them. Strong sunlight - just like rain - can prevent the effective action of neem oil.
The neem works by preventing the parasites from feeding and ensuring that they do not reproduce further. So it may take a few days until the existing pests have disappeared.
If the plant is not yet infested or only slightly infested, you can also add a few drops of neem oil to the watering water to strengthen the plant as a preventive measure.
What alternatives are there to neem?
A plant that is said to have similar health benefits is feverfew (also called motherwort, false camomile or ornamental camomile). It too is used against skin diseases, worm infestation, fever, inflammation and tumour growth.
Unlike neem, however, feverfew is also known for its pain-relieving effect and use for menstrual cramps. (27)
A home-made nettle decoction is often recommended against pest infestations in the garden. However, we do not have any scientific tests on the effect of such a brew. In DIY and garden centres there are also ready-made products for pest control on a natural basis.
Image source: 123rf / 106015474
Krüzselyi D, Nagy R, Ott PG, Móricz ÁM. Rapid, Bioassay-Guided Process for the Detection and Identification of Antibacterial Neem Oil Compounds. J Chromatogr Sci. 2016 Aug;54(7):1084-9. doi: 10.1093/chromsci/bmw026. Epub 2016 Mar 6. PMID: 26951543.
Kausik Biswas, Ishita Chattopadhyay, Ranajit K. Banerjee* and Uday Bandyopadhyay: Biological activities and medicinal properties of neem (Azadirachta indica). CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 82, NO. 11, 10 JUNE 2002
Abhishek, KN, Supreetha, S, Sam, George, Khan, Nubesh, Chaithanya, KH, Abdul, Nishad: Effect of Neem containing Toothpaste on Plaque and Gingivitis—A Randomized Double Blind Clinical Trial. The Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice, Vol. 16, 2015, 880-883.
Dakshita Joy Sinha, Paridhi Garg, Anurag Verma, Vibha Malik, Edgar Richard Maccune, and Agrima Vasudeva: Dentinal Tubule Disinfection with Propolis & Two Extracts of Azadirachta indica Against Candida albicans Biofilm Formed on Tooth Substrate. Open Dent J. 2015; 9: 369–374.
Semmler M, Abdel-Ghaffar F, Gestmann F, Abdel-Aty M, Rizk I, Al-Quraishy S, Lehmacher W, Hoff NP. Randomized, investigator-blinded, controlled clinical study with lice shampoo (Licener®) versus dimethicone (Jacutin® Pedicul Fluid) for the treatment of infestations with head lice. Parasitol Res. 2017 Jul;116(7):1863-1870. doi: 10.1007/s00436-017-5461-7. Epub 2017 May 9. PMID: 28488042.
Whitney Talbott, Nana Duffy: Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Psoriasis: What the Dermatologist Needs to Know. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology volume 16, pages147–165 (2015)
Akram M, Riaz M, Noreen S, Shariati MA, Shaheen G, Akhter N, Parveen F, Akhtar N, Zafar S, Owais Ghauri A, Riaz Z, Khan FS, Kausar S, Zainab R. Therapeutic potential of medicinal plants for the management of scabies. Dermatol Ther. 2020 Jan;33(1):e13186. doi: 10.1111/dth.13186. Epub 2019 Dec 19. PMID: 31830356.
Tiwari V, Darmani NA, Yue BY, Shukla D. In vitro antiviral activity of neem (Azardirachta indica L.) bark extract against herpes simplex virus type-1 infection. Phytother Res. 2010 Aug;24(8):1132-40. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3085. PMID: 20041417; PMCID: PMC3767196.
Singh, Anjali & Singh, Anil & Narayan, Gopeshwar & Singh, Teja & Shukla, Vijay. (2014). Effect of Neem oil and Haridra on non-healing wounds. Ayu. 35. 398-403. 10.4103/0974-8520.158998.
Hao F, Kumar S, Yadav N, Chandra D. Neem components as potential agents for cancer prevention and treatment. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014 Aug;1846(1):247-57. doi: 10.1016/j.bbcan.2014.07.002. Epub 2014 Jul 10. PMID: 25016141; PMCID: PMC4734358.
Patel SM, Nagulapalli Venkata KC, Bhattacharyya P, Sethi G, Bishayee A. Potential of neem (Azadirachta indica L.) for prevention and treatment of oncologic diseases. Semin Cancer Biol. 2016 Oct;40-41:100-115. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2016.03.002. Epub 2016 Mar 24. PMID: 27019417.
Uday Bandyopadhyaya, Kaushik Biswasa, Arnab Senguptab, Puspa Moitrab, Prodip Duttab, Dipankar Sarkarc, Pratip Debnathd, Chayan K. Gangulya, Ranajit K. Banerjee: Clinical studies on the effect of Neem (Azadirachta indica) bark extract on gastric secretion and gastroduodenal ulcer. Life Sciences
Volume 75, Issue 24, 29 October 2004, Pages 2867-2878
Moga MA, Bălan A, Anastasiu CV, Dimienescu OG, Neculoiu CD, Gavriș C. An Overview on the Anticancer Activity of Azadirachta indica (Neem) in Gynecological Cancers. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Dec 5;19(12):3898. doi: 10.3390/ijms19123898. PMID: 30563141; PMCID: PMC6321405.
Riar SS, Bardhan J, Thomas P, Kain AK, Parshad R. Mechanism of antifertility action of neem oil. Indian J Med Res. 1988 Oct;88:339-42. PMID: 3225018.
Juneja SC, Williams RS, Farooq A, Chegini N. Contraception potential of neem oil: effect on pregnancy success in the mouse. J Assist Reprod Genet. 1996 Aug;13(7):578-85. doi: 10.1007/BF02066612. PMID: 8844316.
Khillare B, Shrivastav TG. Spermicidal activity of Azadirachta indica (neem) leaf extract. Contraception. 2003 Sep;68(3):225-9. doi: 10.1016/s0010-7824(03)00165-3. PMID: 14561544.
Formentini MA, Alves LF, Schapovaloff ME. Insecticidal activity of neem oil against Gyropsylla spegazziniana (Hemiptera: Psyllidae) nymphs on Paraguay tea seedlings. Braz J Biol. 2016 Oct-Dec;76(4):951-954. doi: 10.1590/1519-6984.04915. Epub 2016 May 3. PMID: 27143053.
Benelli G, Canale A, Toniolo C, Higuchi A, Murugan K, Pavela R, Nicoletti M. Neem (Azadirachta indica): towards the ideal insecticide? Nat Prod Res. 2017 Feb;31(4):369-386. doi: 10.1080/14786419.2016.1214834. Epub 2016 Aug 12. PMID: 27687478.
Benelli G, Murugan K, Panneerselvam C, Madhiyazhagan P, Conti B, Nicoletti M. Old ingredients for a new recipe? Neem cake, a low-cost botanical by-product in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases. Parasitol Res. 2015 Feb;114(2):391-7. doi: 10.1007/s00436-014-4286-x. Epub 2015 Jan 7. PMID: 25563612.
Jamra, Nirmala & Das, Giridhari & Singh, Priyanka & Haque, Manjurul. (2014). Anthelmintic efficacy of crude neem (Azadirachta indica) leaf powder against bovine strongylosis. Journal of Parasitic Diseases. 39. 10.1007/s12639-014-0423-9.
Upadhyay SN, Dhawan S, Garg S, Talwar GP. Immunomodulatory effects of neem (Azadirachta indica) oil. Int J Immunopharmacol. 1992 Oct;14(7):1187-93. doi: 10.1016/0192-0561(92)90054-o. PMID: 1452404.
Ahmed E. Abdel Moneim, Mohamed S. Othman, Ahmed M. Aref, "Azadirachta indica Attenuates Cisplatin-Induced Nephrotoxicity and Oxidative Stress", BioMed Research International, vol. 2014, Article ID 647131, 11 pages, 2014. https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/647131
Satyanarayana K, Sravanthi K, Shaker IA, Ponnulakshmi R. Molecular approach to identify antidiabetic potential of Azadirachta indica. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. 2015 Jul-Sep;6(3):165-174. DOI: 10.4103/0975-9476.157950.
Bakr SA. Evaluation of acute toxicity of water extract of Azadirachta indica leaves and seeds in rats. Pak J Biol Sci. 2013 Jul 15;16(14):697-700. doi: 10.3923/pjbs.2013.697.700. PMID: 24505996.
Wang C, Cao M, Shi DX, Yin ZQ, Jia RY, Wang KY, Geng Y, Wang Y, Yao XP, Yang ZR, Zhao J. A 90-day subchronic toxicity study of neem oil, a Azadirachta indica oil, in mice. Hum Exp Toxicol. 2013 Sep;32(9):904-13. doi: 10.1177/0960327113475677. Epub 2013 Feb 25. PMID: 23444337.
F.M. Abou-Tarboush, H.M. El-Ashmaoui, H.I. Hussein, D. Al-Rajhy, and M. Al-Assiry: Effect of azadirachtin of neemix-4.5 on SWR/J mice. Saudi J Biol Sci. 2009 Oct; 16(2): 69–76.
Pareek A, Suthar M, Rathore GS, Bansal V. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium L.): A systematic review. Pharmacogn Rev. 2011 Jan;5(9):103-10. doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.79105. PMID: 22096324; PMCID: PMC3210009.