Today the Neem Tree is helping to protect crops against insect pests, people against disease-carrying mosquitoes, and is the source of a large number of natural medicines. It was this wealth of benefits that led the National Research Council (USA) to call it ‘A Tree for solving Global problems’.
The Neem Tree was largely unknown to the rest of the world until 1959 when a German scientist witnessed a locust swarm in Sudan. After the swarm had passed the only tree left untouched was a Neem Tree. On closer investigation it was concluded that the locusts did indeed land on Neem Trees, but they always left without feeding.
Since this discovery, there has been worldwide scientific interest in Neem and intense research into its many properties. As a result, we now know that the Neem Tree contains many natural active ingredients which make it resistant not only to locusts but also to more than three hundred different types of insects, as well as fungi, bacteria, and even viruses. These chemical defenses are not only useful in protecting Neem trees but can also be used as the basis for natural medicines.
Leaves from the Neem tree are renowned for their healing properties. In India, Neem leaf poultices and infusions were widely used in the treatment of skin diseases. Neem Oil is traditionally used for a variety of skin and nail complaints and is also a powerful insect repellent.
Neem Oil was extensively tested in Edinburgh, on the Highland midge, by a team of leading experts who concluded that midges have highly sensitive antennae and could detect Neem oil from the air. The scent of Neem oil deters the midges from biting.