Margosa is a large evergreen dense tree with leaves divided into numerous leaflets, each resembling a full-grown leaf. It has small, white flowers in auxiliary bunch and 1.2 to 1.8 cm long green or yellow fruits with a seed in each. The tree grows some 10 to 10.5 meter tall with a girth of about 2 to 3 meters. All parts of tree possess medicinal properties. The bark is a bitter tonic and a stimulant. The root bark has the same properties as the bark of the trunk.
The seeds contain substantial amount of essential oil, known as margosa or neem oil. The bitter constituents separated from this oil are nimbin, nimbinin and ninbidin. The main active constituent of these is nimbidin which contains sulphur. The blossoms yield a glucoside, nimbosterin and a highly pungent essential oil, nimbosterol nimbecetin and fatty acids. The flowers contain a bitter substance and irritant bitter oil. The fruit contain a bitter principle, baka yanin and the trunk bark yields nimbin, nimbinin nimbidin and an essential oil.
Botanical Name: Azadirachta indica
Indian Name: Neem
Below are some of the medicinal properties of margosa:
- Margosa tree is generally considered to be an air purifier and a preventive against malarial fever and cholera. An infusion or a decoction of the fresh leaves is a bitter vegetable tonic and alterative, especially in chronic malaria fevers because of its action on the liver. It should be taken in doses of 15 to 60 grams.
- Margosa leaves, applied externally are very effective in skin disease. They are especially beneficial in the treatment of boils, chronic ulcers, eruptions of smallpox, syphilitic sores, glandular swelling and wounds. They can be used either as a poultice, decoction or liniment.
- The use of 3 grams of the inner bark of margosa with 6 grams of jaggery every morning is very effective in piles. To check bleeding piles, 3 or 4 neem fruits can be administered with water.
- An ointment prepared from margosa leaves is useful in healing ulcers and wounds. This ointment is prepared by frying 50 grams of the leaves in 50 grams of pure ghee and mashing the mixture thoroughly in the same ghee till an ointment consistency is obtained. A paste prepared from the bark by rubbing it in water can also be applied on wounds.
- The sap of the neem tree has been found beneficial in leprosy, when taken in daily doses of 60 grams. Simultaneously the patient’s body should be massaged with the sap. This regimen should be continued for 40 days. If the sap is not available, 12 grams of neem leaves and three decigrams of pepper can be ground in water and taken.
- Washing the hair with the decoction of margosa leaves help prevent hair loss. This will not only stop hair from falling but also help their growth. Frequent application of neem oil also destroys insects in the hair.
- Neem is very beneficial in eye diseases. Application of the juice of neem leaves to the eyes every night is highly effective in the treatment of night blindness. The leaves should be pounded and made into a thin paste with water. The juice should then be pressed out through a clean piece of cloth and applied to the eyes with an eye rod.
- The juice obtained by rubbing a few neem leaves with a little water and strained through a clean piece of cloth is useful in pain in the eyes caused by conjunctivitis. It is warmed, and a few drops put into the ear opposite the ailing eye; to give relief. Eyes are cured after a few applications.
- Cleansing the teeth regularly with a neem twig prevents gum diseases. It firms up loose teeth, relieves toothache, evacuates the bad odor and protects the mouth from various infections.
- Margosa is very useful at the time of childbirth. Administration of the juice of neem leaves to the woman in labor before childbirth produces normal contraction in the uterus and prevents possible inflammation. It corrects bowel movements and checks onset of fevers, thereby facilitating the normal delivery. The use of a tepid decoction of margosa leaves as a vaginal douche heals any wounds caused during delivery and disinfects the vaginal passage.
- Margosa is a powerful insecticide to kill soil nematodes and other plant parasites and is useful as a mosquito repellant.
- Steam fomentation with neem decoction provides immediate comfort in cases of earache. A handful of neem leaves should be boiled in water and the ear fomented with the steam thus produced. The juice of neem leaves mixed with an equal quantity of pure honey is an effective remedy for any boils in the ear. The juice is to be warmed a little and a few drops fused in the ear. Regular application for a few days will provide relief from such ailments.
In case of an insect fluxing in the ear the juice of neem leaves, with some common salt, is warmed and few drops injected in the ear, kill the insect. Two drops of lukewarm neem oil put in the ear twice a day can cure deafness.