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Neem Tea

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An image of dried neem leaves.

Neem leaves are amongst the most bitter consumables in the world.

Lindsey Goodwin
Definition: Neem tea is an herbal infusion or herbal decoction made from the ground leaves (or sometimes the flowers or bark) of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica). The neem tree is indigenous to Southeast Asia, where it has been used as a healing plant for centuries. Neem tea is incredibly bitter on its own, though it is always blended with other herbs in Ayurvedic medicine.

Neem Tea Recipes

Neem tea can be prepared much like other herbal infusions and decoctions. You can use fresh or dried neem leaves to make neem tea. A ratio of about one teaspoon (three to five whole leaves) per cup of hot water is generally preferred. You can steep with boiled water for around five minutes or up to 20 minutes. Some people prefer to use a milder dose (which can actually be MORE effective for some health purposes), steeping a few pinches of dried, crushed neem leaves with about 34 ounces of hot water for 20 minutes.

In Ayurveda, neem is always mixed with other herbs. This serves a two-fold purpose -- to increase its efficacy / balance it out and to keep it from tasting overpoweringly bitter. Try it with other herbs that are good for the pitta dosha, or with honey, sugar, lemon juice and or spices like cardamom. Neem's bitterness can also be counterbalanced with herbs and spices like cinnamon, orange peel, rooibos, licorice root and fennel seed. Neem can also be blended with green tea or black tea for a milder taste.

Neem Tea Health Benefits

Neem tea has traditionally been used for a variety of health purposes, including:
  • Birth control (It is said to lower sperm count in men and weaken the uterine lining in women.)
  • Blood purification
  • Cancer (In-vitro tests are promising, but additional research is needed to validate neem's efficacy in fighting cancer.)
  • Coughs, colds, allergies and other upper-respiratory ailments
  • Gastrointestinal health, particularly with regard to nausea, vomiting and abdominal pains associated with infection
  • Inflammation (Neem is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent.)
  • Liver disorders (Neem is said to be a liver tonic herb.)
  • Overall detoxification
  • Parasite elimination (particularly for intestinal parasites, pinworms, roundworms and tapeworms)
  • Skin beautification, such as glowing skin and prevention / treatment of occasional breakouts
Neem was also traditionally used to treat malaria, though this is no longer a recommended treatment option for such a severe and otherwise treatable disease.

In Ayurveda, neem is said to be bitter, cooling and "vata" (the Ayurveda type associated with being cooling, drying, reducing and dispersing). For this reason, neem is often used to treat conditions associated with fire and with the pitta and kapha doshas. On an emotional level, neem is said to promote introspection. Due to its unique properties, it is generally recommended that neem be drunk around the beginning of the new year and in wintertime.

Neem tea is not safe for pregnant women to use and may interact with some medications. Consult with a doctor, herbalist or Ayurvedic practitioner before beginning treatment with neem.
Also Known As: neem herbal infusion, neem decoction, neem tree tea, neem leaf tea, Azadirachta indica
Common Misspellings: neam, neme

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