Can I consume Neem Leaf raw?
Neem - the Ayurvedic "gift from heaven"
In India it grows on every street corner, in Ayurveda it is one of the most important plants for humans and animals, in our part of the world we find its components in cosmetics as well as in agriculture: the neem tree. What makes it so special? We took a close look at the so-called Indian lilac!
Neem in portrait
The neem tree, also known as neem or neem, is an evergreen tree of the mahogany family. In technical jargon it is called Azadirachta indica, in Germany it is known as the paradise tree, Indian lilac or margosa. In its life of up to 200 years, the tree can reach an impressive height of up to 40 meters. But the neem tree does not only sprout almost limitlessly towards the sky - it also spreads with all its might underground. Its roots can grow far deeper than its trunk can grow up.
In order to be able to reach such an impressive size, the plant has to thrive in subtropical and tropical areas of our earth. That is why we find it today mainly in the Indian subcontinent, the south of the USA and Central and South America. The neem tree has its origin in India. It was only 100 years ago that it spread to the African continent and from there to the big, wide world. With increasing distribution, the importance of the Indian lilac in nature and culture also grew.
Neem in natural history and culture
As a result of its widespread use in India, the neem tree plays a major role, especially in Indian traditions. For example, it is one of the most important plants in Indian Ayurveda. In Sanskrit scriptures the plant is even called a "gift from heaven". Its bark as well as its leaves and seeds are used. How much neem is valued in Ayurveda is expressed not least by its name: Derived from “Nimbu”, it stands for “disease reliever”.
Neem is also important in Hinduism. It is an integral part of religious ceremonies such as New Year's Day. The believers bathe in a brew made from boiled neem leaves. With this ritual, body and soul are symbolically cleansed at the start of the new year. In addition, neem is considered a lucky charm in India. For large celebrations such as birthdays or weddings, it is therefore common to hang up garlands made of neem leaves.
We have already told you so much about these symbolic leaves - high time to take a closer look at them.
The neem leaves
When it begins to sprout on it, reddish, purple leaves appear on the neem tree. They are characterized by their elongated shape with a thin tip. Once they have got used to the new environment on earth, they will soon show themselves in lush green. Once this state has been reached, the neem leaves are ready to be harvested.
In India, for example, the fresh neem leaves are chewed in the mouth for love. If you want to treat your skin to a caress, prepare a soothing neem bath. To do this, the leaves are soaked in water for about a day. The water, including the leaves, is then added to the full bath. Fresh neem leaves are also ideal for preparation as tea - as is fine powder.
To obtain this, the leaves are carefully harvested, dried at low temperatures and then gently ground into neem powder. In order to preserve the more than 100 ingredients, a particularly careful approach is essential during the entire processing. The finished powder can be used both internally and externally.
Neem DIY for the beauty and enjoyment
As already indicated, neem leaf powder is great for making herbal tea. For one liter you need about 1 teaspoon of neem powder, which you pour 70 - 80 degrees hot water over. After a steeping time of around 10 minutes, the tea is ready to be enjoyed. Legend has it that Mahatma Gandhi drank one cup of it a day. Well if that doesn't mean anything ...
In addition to being taken as a tea, neem powder is also often used externally - mostly in the form of face masks and body wraps. Neem is also often found in shampoos and hair treatments. In combination with vegetable oils, the leaf powder is ideal for making self-made body lotions.
In order to be able to use the great effects of the neem leaves both internally and externally, we can mix the powder in, for example, food and drinks as well as face creams and shampoos. Or we let the leaf powder play the main role in our creations and mix homemade neem delicacies for beauty and enjoyment.
Neem face mask for fine skin
If our skin appears uneven, we can usually attribute this to widened pores. To clean them is not that easy - we usually have to penetrate into the deepest layers of the skin. One care that is capable of this is our Ayurvedic face mask with rose, yacon and neem.
What we need:
• 2 teaspoons of neem powder
• About 200g of dried rose petals
• 3 teaspoons of yacon syrup
How we proceed:
We put the rose petals in a mortar and carefully pound them into a fine powder. We put the ground leaves together with neem powder and yacon syrup in a bowl and combine all ingredients into a homogeneous mass.
We now massage the face mask with our fingers in circular movements on our skin. We leave out the eye area. After about 15 minutes of exposure, we remove the cream with a washcloth soaked in warm water.
Neem iced tea for cold days
Finely ground neem leaves not only delight our skin: they can also sweeten one or the other heat wave. This works best in the form of a refreshing neem ice tea with summery citrus aromas.
What we need:
• 500ml of water
• 1 teaspoon neem powder
• 1 lemon
• 1 grapefruit
• 1 lime
• Some ice cubes
We heat the water to around 75 degrees Celsius and pour it into the neem powder in a fine-meshed tea filter. After about 10 minutes, we take the powder out of the water and set it aside to cool.
In the meantime we squeeze half the lemon, grapefruit and lime. We cut the other half into bite-sized pieces. Make sure to use untreated fruits.
When the tea has cooled down sufficiently, we pour it into a carafe together with the citrus juices. Ice cubes and pieces of fruit join in and our neem ice tea is ready to serve. A great aperitif for mild summer evenings!
A little note at the end: If you are lucky enough to get high-quality neem oil - grab it! Cold-pressed oil from the seeds of the neem fruits is an impressive natural product. It is particularly valuable in the fight against pesky pests - be it in agriculture or in summer, when the mosquitoes feel a little too comfortable with us.
Our tip: Using neem oil in combination with coconut oil, you can mix a natural mosquito repellent in no time at all!
We wish you a great time!
Your Terra Elements team
Photo credits: © SaydaNargish - fotolia.com
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