Neem oil is a non-edible oil which is extracted from the seeds and fruits of the neem plant (biologically known as Azadirachta indica). It has a dark red-brown colour which somewhat resembles the appearance of blood. The oil is the most valuable part of the plant, although other parts of the neem tree such as its leaves are often used as well. Neem oil has a strong, unpleasant bitter taste and odour (it is not suitable for consumption, so don’t try it!).
The neem oil is especially popular in India where it is used in Indian traditional medicine to treat various diseases.
Although not used for domestic purposes, the neem oil plays a significant role in various industries. It is used to naturally treat a wide range of skin ailments such as acne and psoriasis. Primitive tribes are still using it today because of its therapeutic effects to cure fever and other mild infections. Neem oil can be commonly found in lower-end cosmetic products because of its skin-friendly properties as a cheap moisturizer.
Neem oil is also important in the agricultural industry. The oil displays exceptionally strong antifungal and antibacterial which contributes to its use as a natural pesticide. This property can be attributed to the high amounts of azadirachtin (an active chemical compound) found in the neem oil. It is predominantly used in organic farming and is effective in driving a wide range of pests away while leaving the local wildlife relatively unharmed. Since neem oil is not harmful to human health in small amounts, it can be safely used as a household pesticide in sensitive places such as the kitchen. Simply buy a bottle of neem oil and disperse it to the insect-infested areas.
Neem oil has been shown to have an abortifacient effect and should not be used by pregnant women. It should also be used in small amounts only for medicinal purposes. The neem oil is in no way suitable for cooking or culinary purposes and its use in food should be avoided altogether.
Neem oil is usually sold in its concentrated form and is too toxic to be used on its own. It should be thoroughly mixed with water in a ratio of 2:1 before use. When used on plants as an insecticide, spray all surfaces until it is wet and continue application daily. This should prevent any insect damage on the sprayed surfaces. The methods of administering neem oil for its medicinal properties vary and you should consult an alternative medical practitioner before taking it in internally.