An ancient legend of Hindu mythology tells that the gods fell victim to a curse. The only way to regain strength and power was to drink Amrita, the nectar of immortality, which was found at the bottom of the Ocean of Milk. But to get Amrita it was necessary to stir the ocean with a force never exerted before. For this, the gods were forced to ally themselves with the demons, with whom they were in conflict. Together, this powerful alliance succeeded in its intent and Amrita emerged from the waters of milk. But, as always, the desire for oppression prevailed and the gods and demons returned to the war to appropriate Amrita. The war lasted 12 days and 12 nights, during which a few drops of the nectar of immortality fell on the earth. From one of these drops, legend has it, the neem tree was formed, a tree so powerful and with incredible beneficial properties that it was soon nicknamed, already in ancient texts, the universal healer. In fact, all of the neem, leaves, bark and seeds, can come to our rescue by curing ailments and disorders. So, let's find out how to enter the myth, in a time where the oceans were made of milk and guarded elixirs of health and youth, by creating small but powerful cosmetics based on neem oil, the healing tree, to take care of our beauty. But first let's see what science says about the properties of neem oil for skin and hair.
Neem oil, properties
Neem oil is obtained from the seeds of the Azadirachta indica plant. This oil contains limonoids, the most important of which is azadirachtin. Limonoids are substances that act as repellents against insects and parasites. In particular, neem oil has shown its effectiveness against lice that can affect human hair. Studies have observed that shampoos containing neem seed extracts are able, in just 5 minutes, to kill all lice larvae, while ten minutes are needed to kill adult lice as well (Melhorn et al, Parasitol Res, 2011). Not only that, neem oil, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic action, is useful in combating acne, psoriasis and eczema, in healing wounds and also in soothing itching and irritation of the skin, as well as insect bites (Gopinath et al, Indian J Dermato, 2021). Also thanks to its active principles of the limonoid family, neem is useful in case of dandruff (Goyal et al, Molecules, 2022). But neem is not only an ally for acne or irritated skin, mature skin can also benefit from this oil. In fact, neem oil has also been shown to act with anticancer and anti-aging properties, useful for counteracting the aging processes (Hao et al, Biochim Biophys Acta, 2014).
Neem oil, applications for hair health and beauty
Here's how to make a powerful anti-dandruff treatment, also useful against itching and irritation of the scalp and as a prevention or fight against lice. In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and one tablespoon of jojoba, mix. Add a teaspoon of neem oil, mix and apply to moistened scalp, massage. Leave on for 30 minutes, then rinse with shampoo.
Alternatively, you can add a tablespoon of neem oil to your shampoo container, shake and apply to wash your hair.
Neem oil, applications for health and beauty of the skin
In case of acne, stings or irritation localized on a small area of the skin, soak a cotton pad in a little neem oil and use to pat the affected area. To apply neem oil on the face or body, however, dilute half a teaspoon of neem oil in 50 ml of jojoba oil. You can add a few drops of lavender oil, an antiseptic, or eucalyptus oil, which is also moisturizing, and apply a little product to damp skin.
Neem oil also for dogs and cats
Neem oil is not only useful for humans, but can also be beneficial for dogs and cats as a complementary antiparasitic therapy to other treatments. For example, neem oil has been shown to have a repellent action against scabies mites, which can also affect dogs. Not only that, neem oil acts against fleas in dogs and cats (Elson et al, PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 2019 - Wynn et al, Veterinary Herbal Medicine, 2007). Neem oil has also been shown to function as a repellent against sand flies, the vectors of leishmaniasis, however, some studies indicate only one hour as the duration of protection (Zatelli et al, Prev Vet Med, 2022). Neem oil for use on dogs and cats can be purchased ready-made in the form of a convenient spray or in bottles with a dropper. Before applying, always talk to your veterinarian but in any case remember that the product should be used often, several times during the day, since azadirachtin, the active ingredient with repellent action, easily degrades if exposed to light and high heat (Guerrini et al, Vet Parasitol, 1998).