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What is Neem?

The neem (formerly known as Melia azadirachta L.) is a large evergreen tree that grows up to 20 m in height, with spreading branches that form a broad crown. The plant is found throughout India and neighboring regions, where it is cultivated commercially. The plant is often confused with Melia azedarach L., the chinaberry or Persian lilac. Leaves grow alternately with leaflets containing 8 to 19 leaves. The tree yields high-quality timber and a commercial gum.

Scientific Name(s)

Azadirachta indica A. Juss. Family: Meliaceae

Common Name(s)

Neem, margosa, nim, nimba, nimbatiktam, Arishtha, Praneem

What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

Almost every part of the neem tree is used in traditional medicine (eg, Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, Amchi) in many countries, with some 700 preparations described. The stem, root bark, and young fruits are used as a tonic and astringent, and the bark has been used as an analgesic and to treat malaria and cutaneous diseases. The tender leaves have been used in the treatment of worm infections, ulcers, and cardiovascular diseases, as well as in the treatment of leprosy. Indian farmers have used the leaves for hundreds of years as a pesticide and insect repellent.

General uses

Limited clinical trials exist to support therapeutic claims. Neem has been used as an insecticide, insect repellent, and oral dentifrice, and in traditional medicine to treat malaria, diabetes, worms, and cardiovascular and skin diseases. It reportedly has contraceptive, antiulcer, and fungicidal properties, as well as applications relevant to cancer.

What is the recommended dosage?

There are inadequate clinical trials to support specific therapeutic doses of neem.


Specific contraindications have not been identified. The use of oral neem oil in children cannot be supported due to reported deaths.


Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Avoid use.


None well documented.

Side Effects

Research reveals little or no adverse reactions in adults with the use of neem at normal doses.


The seeds of neem are poisonous in large doses. Severe poisoning in infants from neem oil have been reported.


1. Neem. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons 4.0. March 2009. Accessed May 5, 2009.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.