Neem (Azadirachta indica) is valued for its medicinal properties. In Sanskrit, neem is called “arista,” meaning “perfect, complete, and imperishable.” It is also referred to as “nimbati systhyadadati,” i.e., “giver of good health,” and as “Pinchumada,” or “destroyer of leprosy and healer of skin infections.” In Ayurveda, the tree is regarded as a “sarva roga nivarni,” i.e., a “universal reliever of all illness.”
The tree is also referred to as “Sitala mata” tree, which would roughly translate to “mother with cooling property.” Neem is called “Shajar-e-Munarak,” or the “blessed tree” by Unani scholars. The Persians called it “Azad dirakht-i-Hind,” or “the noble tree of India.”
Neem is one of the most researched trees worldwide, with over 2,000 clinical trials and studies. A wide range of its traditional medicinal properties have been validated through animal trials, including the anti-helminthic, anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-diabetic, antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-malarial, wound healing, contraceptive, spermicidal, and sedative properties.
The plant is used to treat a range of skin diseases like scabies, leprosy, and skin ulcers. It is also used to treat eye disorders, a bloody nose, an upset stomach, loss of appetite, cardiovascular issues, intestinal issues, fever, gum, malaria, etc. The fruit helps treat hemorrhoids, urinary tract disorders, intestinal worms and provides relief in headaches. It is regarded as a mosquito repellent and a diuretic.
Neem contains 40 different active compounds called limonoids. The main active ingredient of neem seed is Azadirachtin. The active ingredients isolated from neem include various saponins, triterpenoids, flavonoids, and a range of alkaloids and tannin.
Symbolic chewing of the bitter neem leaves followed by sweets is a New Year celebration ritual in many communities. Many regions in India have spring-based New Year festivals like Ugadi, Pongal, etc. The dates of these regional New Year festivities vary from region to region.