There has been lots of discussion lately regarding the use of neem oil for hair growth, hair loss, and a variety of skin related conditions. Prior to reading through several forum and social media discussions, we were not very familiar with the many benefits of using neem oil for hair and scalp related conditions.
So, we’ve done our research. Let’s dive right into what we’ve learned.
What is Neem?
Neem oil, a type of vegetable oil, comes from the seeds and fruits of the Neem Tree (also commonly referred to as the Nimtree or Azadirachta Indica). The Neem Tree is classified in the mahogany family (Meliaceae).
It is native to the country formerly known as Burma, which has been renamed Myanmar, bordering India, China and Thailand. The Neem Tree has also been found growing naturally in other Asian subcontinent regions including Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
Due to its extensive benefits and application in pest control, medicine, and cosmetics, the Neem Tree has been introduced to many other regions of the world.
The extracted neem oil is predominantly golden yellow or yellowish brown in color. It has a strong sulfur-like odor, almost like a combination of garlic and peanut smells.
It has a bitter taste courtesy of its compounds, which are the combination of triterpenoid and triglycerides. Neem oil is often formulated with surfactants for ease of application (due to its hydrophobic properties).
The insecticidal, antifungal, antiseptic and antihistamine properties of neem oil have been mostly attributed to azadirachtin and nimbin, two of the most studied triterpenoid compounds. Neem oil is also packed with several sterols namely beta-sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol.
The Benefits of Neem Oil for Hair and Skin Conditions
Unlike most natural plant oils, neem oil should not be used for cooking purposes. However, it is utilized for the preparation of a wide range of cosmetic products including hand creams, soaps, body creams and hair products.
It also purportedly treats a variety of medical conditions, formulated both in traditional and modern medicines. Perhaps the most documented use of neem oil in ancient Indian and Ayurvedic history is for the treatment of fevers, skin diseases, and inflammations as well as rheumatic disorders.
More specifically neem oil can be used to:
1. Fights fungal infections: Fungal infections such as athletes foot and nail fungus are quite common. Neem is a powerful antifungal agent and has been used widely to replace over-the-counter antifungal creams. The compounds responsible for the anti-fungal properties are nimbidol and gedunin. They destroy the fungi responsible for these infections. According to a study published in Current Science (Vol. 82, No. 11, 10 June 2012), neem oil is effective against more than 15 different cultures of infectious fungi.
2. Helps skin fight aging: Neem oil contain antioxidants which can protect the skin against environmental damage. The carotenoids in antioxidants safeguard the skin from age promoting free radicals. Neem also contains high levels of vitamins and fatty acids. It quickly gets absorbed by your skin and restores and improves its elasticity. Regular usage of neem smoothens fine lines and wrinkles, thus fighting early signs of aging. Neem oil for also though to be effective against acne and eczema.
3. Effective against head lice: Neem is also considered a safe, effective way to get ride of head lice. Some people are allergic to many over-the-counter treatments for head lice, neem oil is another option to consider. However, it’s important to note that it’s also possible to be allergic to neem oil as well. We also recommend discussing these types of issues with a medical professional. Although, to date, we’re not aware of any allergic or adverse effects during the use of neem oil for lice control, and it is thought to be effective against dandruff too.
Using Neem Oil for Hair Growth Doesn’t Seem Plausible
Other traditional uses of neem oil and powder in ancient Indian and Ayurvedic cultures include treatment of fever, acne, leprosy, ophthalmia, malaria and tuberculosis. Other folk remedy uses include emmenagogue, antiseptic, antifeedant, anthelmintic, febrifuge and insecticide. However, using neem oil for hair growth seems pretty unlikely, based on our research.
Products with neem formulations have been widely used as a biopesticide for biological pest control in organic farming. It acts as a repellant to a wide range of pests including mites, beetles, thrips, cabbage warm, fungus gnats, moth larvae, locust, caterpillars, nematodes, and mushroom flies.
Multiple safety tests have indicated that Neem oil is not harmful to mammals, earthworms, birds or beneficial insects. Neem oil is also widely used in agriculture for control of powdery mildew, black spot rust fungi, and anthracnose.