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Neem oil is a vegetable oil pressed from the fruits and seeds of the neem (Azadirachta indica), an evergreen tree which is endemic to the Indian subcontinent and has been introduced to many other areas in the tropics. It is the most important of the commercially available products of neem for organic farming and medicines.
Neem oil is generally red as blood, and has a rather strong odor that is said to combine the odours of peanut and garlic. It is composed mainly of triglycerides and contains many triterpenoid compounds, which are responsible for the bitter taste. It is hydrophobic in nature and in order to emulsify it in water for application purposes, it must be formulated with appropriate surfactants.
Azadirachtin is the most well known and studied triterpenoid in neem oil. The azadirachtin content of neem oil varies from 300ppm to over 2500ppm depending on the extraction technology and quality of the neem seeds crushed. Neem oil also contains steroids (campesterol, beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol).
|Average composition of neem oil fatty acids|
|Common Name||Acid Name||Composition range|
|Palmitic acid||Hexadecanoic acid||16-33%|
|Stearic acid||Octadecanoic acid||9-24%|
|Palmitoleic acid||9-Hexadecenoic acid||?%|
Neem oil Method 
The method of processing is likely to affect the composition of the oil, since the methods used, such as pressing (expelling) or solvent extraction are unlikely to remove exactly the same mix of components in the same proportions. The neem oil yield that can be obtained from neem seed kernels also varies widely in literature from 25% to 45%.
The oil can be obtained through pressing (crushing) of the seed kernel both through cold pressing or through a process incorporating temperature controls. Neem seed oil can also be obtained by solvent extraction of the neem seed, fruit, oil, cake or kernel. A large industry in India extracts the oil remaining in the seed cake using hexane. This solvent-extracted oil is of a lower quality as compared to the cold pressed oil and is mostly used for soap manufacturing. Neem cake is a by-product obtained in the solvent extraction process for neem oil.
Neem oil is not used for cooking purposes. In India, it is used for preparing cosmetics (soap, hair products, body hygiene creams, hand creams) and in Ayurvedic, Unani and folklore traditional medicine, in the treatment of a wide range of afflictions. The most frequently reported indications in ancient Ayurvedic writings are skin diseases, inflammations and fevers, and more recently rheumatic disorders, insect repellent and insecticide effects.
Traditional Ayurvedic uses of neem include the treatment of acne, fever, leprosy, malaria, ophthalmia and tuberculosis. Various folk remedies for neem include use as an anthelmintic, antifeedant, antiseptic, diuretic, emmenagogue, contraceptive, febrifuge, parasiticide, pediculocide and insecticide. It has been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of tetanus, urticaria, eczema, scrofula and erysipelas. Traditional routes of administration of neem extracts included oral, vaginal and topical use. Neem oil has an extensive history of human use in India and surrounding regions for a variety of therapeutic purposes. Puri (1999) has given an account of traditional uses and therapeutic indications and pharmacological studies of this oil, in his book on neem.
Formulations made of neem oil also find wide usage as a biopesticide for organic farming, as it repels a wide variety of pests including the mealy bug, beet armyworm, aphids, the cabbage worm, thrips, whiteflies, mites, fungus gnats, beetles, moth larvae, mushroom flies, leafminers, caterpillars, locust, nematodes and the Japanese beetle. Neem oil is not known to be harmful to mammals, birds, earthworms or some beneficial insects such as butterflies, honeybees and ladybugs if it is not concentrated directly into their area of habitat or on their food source. It can be used as a household pesticide for ant, bedbug, cockroach, housefly, sand fly, snail, termite and mosquitoes both as repellent and larvicide (Puri 1999). Neem oil also controls black spot, powdery mildew, anthracnose and rust (fungus).
Neem seed oil has also been found to prevent implantation and may even have an abortifacient effect similar to pennyroyal, juniper berries, wild ginger, myrrh and angelica. The effects were seen as many as ten days after fertilization in rats though it was most effective at no more than three days. (Sinha, et al., 1984); (Lal et al., 1985). In a study on rats, neem oil was given orally eight to ten days after implantation of the fetus on the uterine wall. In all cases, by day 15, the embryos were all completely resorbed by the body. The animals regained fertility on the next cycle showing no physical problems. Detailed study of the rats revealed increased levels of gamma interferon in the uterus. The neem oil enhanced the local immune response in the uterus.(Mukherjee, 1996) Post coital use of neem oil as birth control does not appear to work by hormonal changes but produces changes in the organs that make pregnancy no longer viable (Tewari, 1989) (Bardham, 1991).
Studies done when Azadirachtin (the primary active pesticidal ingredient in neem oil) was approved as a pesticide showed that when neem leaves were fed to male albino rats for 11 weeks, 100% (reversible) infertility resulted.
Neem oil and other neem products such as neem leaves and neem tea should not be consumed by pregnant women, women trying to conceive, or children.
There is some evidence that internal medicinal use may be associated with liver damage in children.
See also 
- Rajeev Seenappa, (2009) Dinkal Agro Inc: Organic for Healthy Living
- Puri, H.S. (1999) Neem: The Divine Tree. Azadirachta indica. Harwood Academic Publications, Amsterdam. ISBN 90-5702-348-2.
- Evaluation of Cold-Pressed Oil from the Seed Kernels of Azadirachta Indica (A.Juss), Meliaceae (Neem) for use in Listable Therapeutic Goods; Office of Complementary Medicines, Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), Australia
- N. Kaushik and S. Vir. Variations in fatty acid composition of neem seeds collected from the Rajasthan state of India; Biochemical Society Transactions 2000 Volume 28, part 6
- Schmutterer, H. (Editor) (2002) The Neem Tree: Source of Unique Natural Products for Integrated Pest Management, Medicine, Industry And Other Purposes (Hardcover),2nd Edition, Weinheim,Germany: VCH Verlagsgesellschaft .ISBN 3-527-30054-6
- Vietmeyer, N. D. (Director) (1992), Neem: A Tree for Solving Global Problems. Report of an ad hoc panel of the Board on Science and Technology for International Development, National Research Council, Washington, DC, USA: National Academy Press. pp. 71–72. ISBN 0-309-04686-6
- Peter Gurney Guinea Pig Health Guide