Ayurveda remains a treasure trove of secrets from nature and the countless benefits that exist therein. Before the time of bristled brushes and pearly white toothpastes, men and women reached out to the friendly neighborhood Neem (or Margosa) tree to solve many a problem.
A Neem twig, or datun, was commonly used for cleaning teeth and maintaining oral hygiene. In villages across India it was a common site to see people chewing a Neem datun, which turns into a brush-like stick that works as natural floss. Chewing also releases a bitter extract that is considered anti-bacterial, as well as a blood-purifier and a cure for bad breath. Healing properties of this magic stick abound as it is believed to cure mouth ulcers and reduce cavities, bleeding gums, plaque formation and discoloration of teeth.
As if the benefits of chewing weren’t enough, consuming a few Neem leaves everyday is good for digestion and acts as a de-worming agent. Putting a little Neem leaf extract in bathing water is believed to help fight mild skin infections. Oil extracted from the fruits of this tree is also used for healthy hair, better liver function, detoxifying the blood, and balancing blood sugar levels.
Neem is also special for its ecological benefits and is used for pest control, being a natural alternative to synthetic pesticides. The Neem tree (Azadirachta indica) also has a higher capability for carbon dioxide absorption, making it a walker’s delight in any park or garden.
The shaded plume of this glorious tree and its multifarious benefits are slowly disappearing from our lives, having lost their sheen amidst the clamour of laboratory made Neem products.
Being adaptable to different soil types and climes, perhaps the next search for a new toothbrush could begin with the bark of a Neem tree planted in our backyard.
– by Manika Dhama
Image Courtesy: Indian Express, Flickr (Yogita Mehra, Penny Hansen, Meena Kadri)