Neem is one of the most promising plants on the planet. From improving our health to disinfecting our skin, the humble tree can benefit us in many ways. But what many of us are not aware of is that neem has immense potential in maintaining our hair health too. These days, hair loss has become a pretty common issue and sometimes even a serious concern to worry about. If you are looking for an effective natural remedy for it, look for nothing other than neem. We tell you why and how to use neem leaves for hair loss and everything else you should know about it.
What is Neem?
Neem or Indian Lilac, scientifically known as Azadirachta indica, is an evergreen herb from the Meliaceae or mahogany family. Though the versatile tree is originated in the Indian subcontinent, it is now also found in some parts of the Middle East. Being extremely resilient to challenging environments, it can easily grow in tropical and subtropical zones. Neem trees are characterized by broad-spreading leaves, white fragrant flowers, and small bittersweet drupes. Bark, leaves, fruits, seeds, and roots of the plant have strong medicinal uses while shoots and flowers are used in culinary preparations. The leaves of the neem tree are dried and powdered to use as an inexpensive herbal remedy for several ailments including stomach upset, intestinal worms, bloody nose, skin ulcers, scalp infections, gingivitis, diabetes, etc. The oil extracted from these widely sought-after leaves is also rich in beneficial organic compounds. Neem leaves are used for making herbal supplements too.
Health Benefits of Neem
Let us have a quick glance at how neem benefits our health both internally and externally:
1. Strengthens Immune System
According to research published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal, fresh neem leaves contain two polyphenolic flavonoids quercetin and ß-sitosterol. The strong antimicrobial and antibacterial properties of these compounds may help in healing the body from within by making the immune system stronger.
2. Keeps Infections At Bay
The active organic ingredients in neem have potent anti-fungal properties, which protect our overall health by inhibiting fungal infections. It may even offer rapid and highly efficient treatment for conditions like Athlete’s foot.
3. Detoxifies the Body
A study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics revealed that the antioxidants present in neem help in promoting our liver functionalities. This may be effective in neutralizing free radicals and eliminating toxins from our body, thereby optimizing its metabolic activities.
4. Enhances Gastric Health
Neem has excellent anti-inflammatory properties, which may help in reducing the inflammation in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract. In fact, it has been found to keep our digestive system healthy by healing a wide range of issues including bloating, cramping, constipation, and ulcers.
5. Maintains Bone Health
The anti-inflammatory properties of neem may also keep our bones and joints healthy. Consistent use of neem is known to reduce discomfort and pain associated with aching joints and muscles caused by arthritis.
6. Regulates Blood Sugar
Certain chemical components in neem maximize the insulin receptor function of the body, which eventually protects against diabetes.
7. Improves Reproductive Health
Neem helps in preventing certain STDs or sexually transmitted diseases. It is also a natural spermicide that lowers fertility levels and controls birth without impacting libido or causing any toxic effect on the body.
8. Fights Against Malaria
Being is a natural and non-toxic insect repellent, neem may reduce the danger of malaria by minimizing its symptoms effectively.
9. Protects from Cancer
Neem may reduce the risks of cancer potentially with the flavonoids and other anticancer compounds present in it. Apart from treating inflammatory conditions, neem may also play a pivotal role in activating the tumor suppressor gene.
Why Use Neem Leaves for Hair Loss?
The hair benefits of neem are largely based on exploratory investigations and anecdotal evidence. Very little research has been conducted on it so far. However, when your internal organs function effectively, you start growing lustrous hair too. Moreover, the anti-microbial and blood purifying properties of neem leaves can address the root causes of hair loss, thereby stimulating the growth of healthy strong hair. Following are the reasons why the herb has been used to treat hair loss for ages:
- Neem is packed with vitamin E, fatty acids, triglycerides, limonoids, and antioxidants, which take great care of the overall health of our hair. It nourishes hair fibers, hydrates them thoroughly, and makes them stronger to promote the growth of smooth and gorgeous hair.
- Vitamin E and other antioxidants in neem may nourish and condition the scalp intensely. This is essential to get rid of several problems like dryness, scaliness, flakiness, redness, itchy scalp, inflammation, buildups, infections, and so on.
- Neem improves the health of our hair follicles and seals them with its potent antioxidant effects. This may help in preventing breakage, split ends, and frequent hair fall.
- The herb has an active ingredient called nimbidin, which contributes to its potent anti-inflammatory properties. When combined with natural anti-fungal and anti-microbial effects of the plant, they may help alleviate the symptoms of dandruff. Hence, neem has become an extremely popular ingredient in many commercial shampoos and scalp cleansers.
- Premature graying often make the hair strands dry, wiry, and breakage-prone. Neem minimizes grays to help you stay away from the issue of too much hair fall.
- The azadirachtin content of neem makes it an extremely effective natural remedy for head lice.
How to Use Neem Leaves for Hair Loss?
Now, here are 5 different ways that you can follow to use neem leaves for hair loss:
1. Massaging Neem Oil
The healthy growth of hair requires a healthy, nourished scalp. Your scalp can get affected by many factors and develop various issues, such as the dry scalp, flaky scalp, dandruff, etc., which stimulate hair loss largely. Besides, excessive production of sebum (oil), makes the scalp oily and leads to hair thinning. It clogs the pores on the scalp and prohibits hair growth. Applying neem oil addresses all these issues. Neem oil is a topical treatment for scalp infections. Heat the neem oil (don’t let it boil) to warm it up and massage the scalp with it gently for 5 to 10 minutes. Take a bath in lukewarm water after an hour. You can apply neem oil twice a week. The smell of neem oil might seem to be disgusting. However, tolerate it by thinking about the lustrous hair you will get soon.
2. Using Neem Water
Neem-infused water is another highly effective remedy that eliminates dandruff and opens clogged pores caused due to it. As a result, you get a squeaky clean scalp with significantly reduced hair fall. Take a handful of neem leaves and boil it in water. Let them boil until the color of the water changes (until water extracts the medicinal value of neem leaf). Allow the infusion to cool down and remove the neem leaves from it. After shampooing, rinse your hair with the infusion.
3. Opting for a Neem Mask
Another method of using neem for hair loss is grinding the leaves into a paste and using it as a mask. Get some fresh neem leaves and grind them into a fine paste with medium consistency (if you grind coarsely, you will find it very difficult to rinse the hair and remove the remnants). You can add some hot water if needed. Apply the paste to your hair from the root to the tip. Also, don’t ignore the scalp. Now, wrap your hair in a towel and wait for one or two hours. Shampoo the hair and rinse the mask off thoroughly.
4. Applying Neem Pack
If fresh neem leaves are not available, go for readymade neem leaf powder. You can easily get a pack of neem leaf powder in any departmental store or even in a pharmacy. Make sure to buy the organic one for the best results. Add enough lukewarm water to this powder and turn it into a smooth paste of medium consistency. Apply the pack to the scalp and cover your hair too. Let it dry for an hour or so. Then, rinse the hair thoroughly. However, using fresh neem leaves is always recommended.
5. Eating Baby Leaves
Let us learn about a good old granny’s remedy that involves the consumption of small, new neem leaves for hair loss! Toxins accumulated in the body are a major reason for hair loss and neem leaves work as the natural blood purifier. It purifies the bloodstream by removing toxins from it as well as internal organs. The powerful medicinal properties of baby neem leaves help heal all types of infections and purify the organs. Since the blood is purified, it enables the growth of strong hair. Purified blood ensures improved blood circulation, which in turn reduces hair loss. So, get a few baby neem leaves and grind them to a fine paste. Swallow a cherry-sized ball of this paste and drink a lot of water immediately. Alternatively, you can mix the paste into buttermilk and drink it. Of course, it tastes, too bad, but it is too good for health!
The taste and aroma of neem leaves stay in our taste buds for longer hours. It becomes even more difficult to tolerate the bitter flavor of mature ones. However, the baby leaves of neem are fresh and hence, are comparatively easier to consume.
Potential Side Effects of Neem
Neem is usually considered safe for use. But if you are sensitive or allergic to it, you should stay away from its topical application. Also, the consumption of neem leaves is not recommended for children under the age of 12, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, liver patients, and kidney patients. Some common side effects of the herb include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, cramping, difficulty breathing, etc. It may also interact with certain medical conditions or prescribed drugs. Hence, it is always good to use neem under medical supervision only.
Neem is a versatile herb offering numerous benefits for our health, skin, and hair. Each part of a neem tree has certain medicinal uses but neem leaves are considered as the most important part of the plant. Neem leaves can enhance the overall health and luster of our hair by treating scalp infections, dandruff, and dryness. There are multiples ways to use neem leaves for hair loss, which include both topical and oral applications.
From Sayee Priyadarshini, Feb. 22, 2020