Monday, September 18, 2006

Neem for Skin Disorders: Eczema, Acne, Psoriasis


The Medicine Tree of India

Neem, (Azadirachta Indica in Latin, Nimba, in Sanskrit) is a large evergreen tropical tree, native to India and Burma. It is called the medicine tree because all parts of the tree are used medicinally. From the leaves are made medicinal powders, taken in capsule or paste form, from the twigs and bark are made tooth powders, paste, and medicinal soaps (the Indian villager breaks off a twig in the morning, crushes the end between his molars to make a brush, and leisurely cleans his teeth, one at a time, with its end, which exudes a bitter, anti-bacterial essence), and from the fruits and their seeds come Neem Oil, used topically for skin disorders, and as a contraceptive. Neem oil is also the source of a powerful insecticide!

In Ayurveda, Neem is used to maintain healthy skin, to detoxify the liver and blood, and to reduce excess Pitta and Kapha.

Neem's Ayurvedic Energetics are as follows: Its taste is bitter, its action is cooling, and its post-digestive effect is pungent.

Therefore is is balancing for Pitta and Kapha, but may aggravate Vata if used in excess and not balanced with other medicinals.

In Western terms its hebal actions are as follows:
Anthelmintic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, antipyretic, antiviral, depurative, diuretic, refrigerant, vulnerary.
It should be noted that among other chemical constituents unique to Neem, all parts of the plant yield b -Sitosterol, a natural plant steroid, probably responsible in part to ints anti-inflammatory properties.

Traditional Uses:




athlete's foot

high cholesterol









liver disorders



lymphatic congestion




skin irritations

Neem is widely used in Ayurveda because of its effectiveness in dealing with nearly all types of pitta and kapha disorders. Its bitter property balances Kapha and cooling property balances Pitta. Because it is bitter and very cooling, it is usually combined with other herbs to offset its Vata-aggravating qualities.

Neem is one of the most powerful blood purifiers and is also known for its strong detoxification properties. It has traditionally been used in diseases and disorders that need blood purification, liver cleansing, and toxins cleared from all the various tissues of the body. It also is used to support the immune system, which added to its other properties explains why it is commonly used for a variety of skin disorders involving irritation, inflammation, allergy, and immune weakness. It is said to have a special affinity for the tissues of the skin organ.

Possible Contraindications:
Pregnancy, hypoglycemia, extreme fatigue, emaciation, high vata

Modern Action and Uses: Neem possesses anti-diabetic, antibacterial, antiviral, astringent, tonic, antipyretic (fever reducing), anticancer, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic (destroys bacteria), antioxidative, anthelminitic, antidandruff and antiperiodic properties. It is beneficial in malarial fever and useful in cutaneous diseases. It boosts human immune system while helping the body to fight infections. It also stimulates the production of T-cells to fight infections.

Beneficial in diabetes (reducing insulin requirement up to 50%). Neem has an almost magical effect on chronic skin conditions that often fail to respond to other treatments. It has scientifically tested for its ability to reduce blood pressure, blood clots, cholesterol levels.

Please Note: Safety: Continuous use for more than a month is not advisable unless it is used with butter and honey (which balance the drying and cooling properties) or mixed and blended with other herbs. According to Ayurveda, herbs are taken in combination with other herbs to neutralize the toxicity of one herb with the opposing effect of the other or to enhance the particular effect of one herb with the help of other.

This is why at this point in time I use only Ayush Brand Neem Capsules Neem Plus. in which the Neem Leaf has been prepared according to traditional methods, with Trifala, Manjeeshta, and Tinospora cordiflia.

Moreover, Ayush then takes the traditional preparation and makes an extract, making it much easier to digest and assimilate. If you open an Ayush NeemPlus capsule, you will see that it is a dark, uniform, mix of granules, with an extremely bitter taste.

Compare this with another well known Ayurvedic company's products, available at a major Health Food chain.

This is their info from their web site:

" Each 500 mg tablet contains: Neem leaf (Azadirachta indica)*.
Other ingredients, from natural sources: stearic acid (from vegetable oil), rice maltodextrin, modified food starch, silicon dioxide, magnesium stearate (from vegetable oil)."

As you can see, besides containing all kinds of undesireable tableting agents, their product consists of unprocessed powdered Neem leaf. This is wrong. Powdered leaf is never used this way in Ayurveda, it is ALWAYS

prepared by heating and mixing with other herbs like Triphal, to protect your digestive tract and make it possible to absorb the micronutrients. We are not cows. We do not have the digestive tract to eat dried Neem leaves. So, this is not practicing Ayurveda. It is profit oriented business without regard to medicine We owe you, the patient, the right to hear the truth.

Dietary Recommendations when using Neem for Pitta Disorders

Foods to Favour:
Light diet, rice, green gram (mung dal) soup, kitchiree, bitter gourd, green leafy vegetables, papaya, pomegranate, Amla, cucumber.

Foods to Avoid:

Avoid fried, spicy food, egg, seafood, pre-packaged food, excess use of meat products, noodles and nuts. They are harmful for the skin as they increase the surface acidity of the blood.

Avoid vegetables with edible seeds, like tomatoe. Worse is tomato sauce, paste, and puree, because they are concentrated. Likewise, concentrated orange juice.

But lemon is fine.

Avoid alcohol, smoking and drugs, including coffee, which are very Pitta aggravating, and produce lots of heat. Avoid long periods of exposure to sun during treatment. Use of cosmetics should be limited.

Ayurveda assesses skin lesions according to the Dosha imbalance that is at the root of the problem. This is useful for determing which dosha is imbalanced, and therefore what additional dietary and lifestyle remedies will be useful.

Vata Imbalance: The skin lesions due to vata (Air) vitiation are dry, dusky-reddish in color and hard, unevenly spread, have rough edges, are thin, slightly elevated externally, numbed as if paralyzed, covered with bristling hair, afflicted with extreme piercing pain, have scanty purulent or serious discharge. The other features due to Vata predominance include roughness, dryness, pricking sensation, tremors, blisters, contraction, fatigue, rigidity, numbness, ulceration and fissures.

Pitta Imbalance: The skin lesions due to Pitta vitiation are copper colored with cooper colored rough edges of hairs, dense, have plenty of thick discharge of pus, blood and lymph accompanied with itching, moisture, sloughing, burning and suppuration, softening, putrefaction, discharge, and redness.

Kapha Imbalance
: The skin lesions due to Kapha vitiation are glossy, large, raised, smooth, stable and have swollen edges of Whitish red shade covered with white rows of hair, with excessive thick white discharge, very moist, itchy and affected with parasites, slugging in spreading appearance and ulceration, commonly round in shape. The other features due to Kapha predominance include coldness, itching, stability, thickness, elevation, increase of secretion, and excretion.

A Brief Intro to Manjeeshtha, and Gudduchi, NeemPlus's additional ingredients besides Trifal.

Manjeeshtha or Rubia cordifolia is a perennial prickly creeper or climber with a wide range of morphological characters. The roots contain a mixture of purpurin (trihydroxy anthraquinone) and munjistin (xanthopurpurin-2-carboxylic acid), and small amounts of xanthopurpurin or purpuroxanthin and pseudopurpurin (purpurin-3-carboxylic acid). Several substituted naphthoquinones and hydroxy anhraquinones and their glycosides have been isolated from the roots. Aldehyde aceate, dihydromollugin and rubimallin showed antibacterial activities.

Indications The roots are credited with tonic, astringent, antidysenteric, antiseptic, mild diuretic and detoxification properties. They are used in rheumatism and form an ingredient of several Ayurvedic preparations. The roots are said to be active against Staphylococcus aureus and are made into a paste for application into ulcers, inflammations and skin disorders. Roots are used also for coloring medicinal oils. A decoction of leaves and stems is used as a vermifuge.
Its use dates at least from 600 B.C.E., where it is mentioned by Cakradatta for use in Pityriais Versicolor, a form of Psoriasis.


Tinospora cordifolia. Guduchi in Sanskrit.

Tinospora cordifolia is a large, climbing shrub. Its principle constituents are tinosporine, tinosporide, tinosporaside, cordifolide, cordifol, heptacosanol, clerodane furano diterpene, diterpenoid furanolactone tinosporidine, columbin and §-sitosterol. The stem is used in dyspepsia, fevers and urinary diseases. The plant is used to improve the immune system and the body's resistance to infections. It is also an effective immunostimulant.

Eyton J. Shalom, M.S., L.Ac.

Practitioner of Body-Mind Medicine




bond said...

From the very beginning of recorded human history, people have used the mysterious Azadirachta indica or neem tree. Today, rural Indians call this tree their "village pharmacy" because of claims it "cures" diseases and disorders ranging from bad teeth and bedbugs to ulcers and malaria. The seeds, bark and leaves contain compounds called limonoids with proven antiseptic, antiviral, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer and antifungal uses.

shu said...

If you apply been oil topically, do you still have to watch out for those issues listed with regards to preparation with other herbs, and cats incompatibility? Or does this only apply to taking it orally?

Also, you mentioned how its not recommended to use beyond one month. What if the skin does not improve within a month? Or, if there is improvement, can this be continued at s lower frequency for its cleansing properties to maintain skin health?

Thank you so much for this information and recommendations, I just found your site and am so intrigued!

Eyton J. Shalom, M.S., L.Ac. said...


using the oil topically there are no restrictions. Cats? not sure what that question is.

on oral use, you can take for much more than a month if you use a brand where it has been cooked with trifal.

Continuous use for more than a month is not advisable unless it is used with butter and honey (which balance the drying and cooling properties) or mixed and blended with other herbs. According to Ayurveda, herbs are taken in combination with other herbs to neutralize the toxicity of one herb with the opposing effect of the other or to enhance the particular effect of one herb with the help of other.

This is why at this point in time I use only Ayush Brand Neem Capsules Neem Plus. in which the Neem Leaf has been prepared according to traditional methods, with Trifala,

shu said...

sorry stupid autocorrect. i meant to type"vata" incompatibility!

also, I find it hard to understand exactly what form of dosha my acne is a result of.. I'm reading hte descriptions but don't seem to find any one of them particularly fitting.. It's mainly forehead acne, not cystic, but inflammed.

Thank you so much for your reply, I wish I were living in San Diego, I will definitely trust your expertise!

Eyton J. Shalom, M.S., L.Ac. said...

generally, if it is more red and inflammed, and you have oily skin, its pitta style.

if dry skin and itchy, vata.

if cold cool skin and more pus, kapha.

but these are sub categories; in general, acne is a pitta disorder

Anonymous said...

Hi i am suffering from psorasis and want to get preganent soon ,so can i still use neem oil on my skin as a oil and not intaking as a capsule.

Eyton J. Shalom, M.S., L.Ac. said...

I am unaware of any contraindication for Neem Oil used on the skin during pregnancy. But yes, dont take by mouth.

Anonymous said...

I had eczema back in 2010, and suffered for 2 years until in Nov-2012 I have undergone panchakarma therapy. It is a 10 days detoxification therapy, and for the next 1 year I had no itch at all, never even had skin rashes. But as time passed I started to build toxins in my body again, so the eczema again showed up. My ayurvedic doctor advised to undergo panchakarma atleast once a year, and so I am going to undergo the treatment again in Jan 2016. There are many types of panchakarma procedures, but my problem was associated with high pitta and khapha imbalance. I should say that the therapy helped me a lot. The hospital I have undergone is at (Udupi District, Karnataka State, India ) but I think you should also have similar therapy centers at USA too. In my case, it costed me $215 for a 10 day treatment which includes hospitalization (non-shared single room) and treatment. So a very effective natural treatment with no side effects and low in cost. I even noticed patients from Germany and Poland taking other types of therapy during my stay in the hospital.