Its Latin name is Azadirachta indica but it is more popularly known as neem and is found in abundance in India and other Asian nations. Neem has been researched thoroughly and scientists are now cautiously calling it the “wonder plant.” Briefly, neem has antibacterial and antiviral properties that can help with mouth or gum diseases and also act against sexually transmitted diseases.
It also has antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties that help in fighting athletes foot and arthritis. Studies conducted in Malaysia, Thailand, and India show that neem helps to boost antioxidant levels and thus protects against liver damage and carcinogens. Neem also helps in the treatment for malaria and diabetes.
All parts of the neem tree can be used such as the fruit, seeds, bark, oil, roots, and leaves. Neem’s cures for many diseases have been described but these have to be independently confirmed by clinical research trials. In vitro and preclinical studies have come up with some spectacular results but a lot more research needs to be carried out before neem can be recommended for human use.
Neem has many active compounds that work together through different mechanisms. This feature highlights its potent effect on cancers. An important mechanism that has been discovered is programmed cell death in which cancer cells are directly killed. This enables a process called cross-priming because the apoptosis allows the body’s immune system cells to start identifying and destroying the cancer cells. Research has shown that neem produces glutathione, which is a carcinogen-detoxyfing enzyme and is one of the antioxidants that neem produces. Chiefly, the research on neem shows that it works effectively in human cell lines and animal models. These include lung, cancer, stomach, skin, prostate, and breast cancer, among others. Studies with neem have thrown up results showing that pre-treatment with it is highly effective as a protection against cancer. While it is efficacious as a stand-alone treatment, research also shows that it increases the positive effects while reducing the side effects of some traditional cancer treatments.
Neem has been used and tested on quite a few cancers. Neem-based creams have been used to treat skin cancer and it has been taken internally also to test its effect on lymphocytic cancer. Indian, Japanese, and European scientist have discovered that the neem bark and seeds and oil contain polysaccharides and liminoids that helped to reduce tumors and were efficacious against lymphocytic leukaemia. Results from another research showed that neem leaf extract prevents cancer cells from sticking to other body cells, which means that cancer cannot spread so easily to other parts of the body and can be more easily destroyed.
Research is still ongoing about the effects of neem and it is still an alternative treatment that can be taken alongside more conventional cancer treatment. Patients with cancer can volunteer for clinical trials to study the results of neem on cancer. But do consult your physician before going in for any kind of alternative treatment that includes neem or other herbs.