“It is horrendous to gorge oneself on extremely bitter balls”, this was the thought we all had in unison when we were asked to swallow marble-sized neem balls in an empty stomach early in the morning. Our grandmother tried various methods by sprinkling tiny sugar crystals over these emerald green balls, and promising us a “paal” icecream stick (creamy milky ice cream) in the afternoon or a movie show in the evening, etc. But all her tactics usually went in vain as older children escaped from her clutches easily and young kids just spat them all out.
Nowadays people are eager to grow a neem tree in their backyard, or searching for a neem tree in their neighborhood as various parts of neem tree have anti-septic, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, anti-malarial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancerous properties. But others are simply buying neem capsules from an Ayurvedic dispensary to enjoy these benefits.
Amazing facts on neem trees:
Neem trees are called as kalpa vriksha (a wish fulfilling tree) and are popularly known as sarva roga nivarani (it cures all the ailments).
- Neem tree has been declared as the Tree of the 21st century by the United Nations and regarded as the tree for solving global problems.
- Neem trees help in restoring and maintaining soil fertility.
- Neem trees control the environmental pollution and thereby keep the surrounding air clean.
- The temperature under the neem tree is approximately 10° C less than the surrounding temperature.
- Neem tree shade not only cools but also prevents the occurrence of diseases caused by bacteria, viruses & fungi.
Ayurvedic properties of neem leaves:
|Taste (rasa)||Bitter (tikta) & astringent (kashaya)|
|Quality (guna)||Dry (rooksha) and light to digest (laghu)|
|Potency (veerya)||Cold (sheeta)|
|Effects on dosha |
|Balances pitta & kapha (pitta-kaphakara) and |
increases vata (vatakrut)
|Benefits||Improves digestion (agnikrut)|
Treats worm infestation (krumihara)
Cleanses & detoxifies (vishanut)
Relieves thirst (truthara)
Heals & dries the wounds (vranahara)
Treats skin diseases (kushtahara)
Lowers blood sugar (mehanut)
Treats respiratory disorders (kasahara)
Neem balls are generally prepared by grinding fresh neem leaves after sprinkling little water, but some may like to add a small piece of turmeric and/or a couple of shallots. It is recommended to take a neem ball once a year or once in 6 months but not quite often, and pregnant women should avoid taking neem balls.
My father preferred to chew a few tender neem leaves that are astringent rather than taking bitter neem balls.
Earlier we were asked to take bath using neem leaves infused water (prepared by immersing a handful of neem leaves in a bucketful of warm water for an hour) during summer to keep us cool and also to protect us from the episodes of prickly heat, chicken pox, etc.
Now we are using bath soaps made using neem oil.
Besides there are plenty of neem products like neem chewing sticks, tooth powder, face cream, shampoo, insect repellents, etc. available in the market.