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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

a.k.a. African Lilac, Azadirachta, Azedarach, Chinaberry, China-tree, Hag bush, Holy tree, Hoptree,
Indian Lilac tree, Margosa, Margosa bark, Neem, Nim, Persian Lilac,
Pride of China, Pride of India, Pride tree, Worm Root tree

(Melia azadirachta syn Azadirachta indica)
[ku liàn pí]
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Excess causes diarrhea, vomiting, and symptoms of narcotic poisoning.
Ripe fruits more poisonous than green ones and sometimes cause human fatalities.

An oaklike deciduous tree from 30 to 50 feet widely distributed throughout the subtropics; believed to be native to China, but most definitely southwest Asia; also found growing in southern France and Spain in avenues; widely cultivated and naturalized in the West Indies and southern United States. Grown as a crop tree. In parts of Africa it is grown in hedges for easier harvesting.
First described in Chinese medicine in 1082 A.D.
Trunk has spreading branches and is covered with furrowed bark, rusty-gray in appearance. Leaves alternate, bipinnate from 1 to 3 feet long with numerous, pointed, sharply serrate or lobed leaflets ranging in shape from ovate and elliptic to lanceolate. Perfumed, lilac-colored flowers grow in long peduncled panicles and bloom in early spring; calyx is 5-parted, corolla has 5 petals; stamens are a deep violet color, the anthers yellow. Inner bark is yellow, coarsely fibrous with no odor, powerfully bitter and less astringent than the outer bark, if taken from old roots. Root bark has a disagreeable, bitter taste and an unpleasant odor. Fruit is a nearly round yellow drupe (bony nut) from 1/2 to 3/4 inch across with 5 cells and somewhat sweet.
Known as Neem in India. The name Bead Tree comes from the use of the hard nuts to make rosary beads.
In the southern United States it was once believed that if a horse ate the fruit, it would be protected against attacks of 'bots'.

Based on ZERO MOISTURE per 100 grams:
SEED = 28.7 g protein, 44.0 g fat, 58.6 g total carbohydrate, 11.6 g fiber, 3.4 g ash, 2310 mg calcium, 220 mg phosphorus. Seeds also yield margosa, a nondrying oil with insecticidal and antiseptic properties.
LEAVES = paraisine.
FRUITS = azadirine and resin; also contains azadirachtin which inhibits feeding of the desert locust.
FRUIT OIL = glycerides of palmitic-, oleic-, linoleic-, and stearic acids (does NOT contain linolenic, chaulmoogric, or hydnocarpic acids).
BARK = margosine and tannin.
Also: Vanillic acid (ascaricidal and anthelmintic compound) is present in the cortex with dl-catechol.
PERICARP contains bakayanin and bakayanic acid.
Contains effective anti-malarial compounds.

PROPAGATION: By seed in autumn as soon as ripe.
NEEDS: An ornamental requiring well-drained to dry soil in sun with minimum temperatures of 59-64 F. (15-18 C.); tolerates very dry coastal sites in warm zones.
HARVEST: Leaves, bark, and resin taken as needed, then used fresh or dried. Seeds taken when ripe for oil production. Fruits in autumn; flowers as available.
PART USED: Leaves, bark of root and trunk, resin, fruits, seed, flower. All parts are used fresh or dried in decoctions, ointments, and pills.
SOLVENT: Boiling water.

Melia toosendan [chuan lian zi], aka White Cedar: Stembark has been decocted with dried ripe fruit and combined with Corydalis for abdominal and chest pain. Fruit has been used for colic an skin ailments; also decocted with other herbs for dysmenorrhea, abdominal and chest pains, and abdominal swelling caused by gas. Rootbark has been decocted alone and taken with sugar for abdominal pain due to ascariasis. Toosedanin was isolated at the Sichuan Institute of Chinese Traditional Drugs; has vermicidal activity similar to santonin, but less toxic and does not require catharsis; was considred safer for children with helmintic (parasitic worms) infections.


Bitter, irritant herb; alterative, tonic, clears toxins, reduces inflammation, lowers fever, promotes healing; antiparasitic, antifungal, insecticidal, spermicidal, emetic, emmenagogue, purgative.
One of the most important detoxicants in Ayurvedic medicine.
Has been used internally for intermittant fevers, malaria, tuberculosis, rheumatism, arthritis, jaundice, and skin diseases; also for intestinal worms and candidiasis; usually combined with Glycyrrhiza glabra to reduce toxicity.
Has been used externally for ringworm, eczema, lice, fungal infections, painful joints and muscles.
A study on lice = Fresh neem leaves and turmeric root were pulverized into a paste using 4 parts neem to 1 part turmeric; the paste was rubbed over the body daily and allowed to dry; treatment was repeated until the lice were gone. In addition to this treatment, standard delousing procedures were followed (boiling clothes and bedding). Outcome = 98% cure rate within 3 to 15 days; the 2% who were not cured had also not followed the program.
A study on scabies = Done by researcher S.X. Charles, PhD, and simliar to the one on lice; 4 parts neem was combined with 1 part turmeric to make a paste; paste was rubbed over body daily; improvement was noted within 3 to 5 days and complete cure effected within 2 weeks.
Juice of the leaf is anthelmintic, antilithic, emmenagogue; decocotion of the leaf is astringent, stomachic, and has been used to relieve the pain of hernia.
Flower has been used for nervous headache, neuralgia, prickly heat.
Stembark is anthelmintic and has also been used for atrophy, dyspepsia, and stomach ache.
Fruit is antiseptic and febrifuge and has been used for abdominal pain, cystitis, delirium, hernia, ringworm, uteritis, weeping lesions; pulp of fruit has been used to make ointment to destroy lice; also used for scald head and other skin diseases
Root bark has been used against ringworm and for parasitic skin diseases; said to give good results with ascariasis.
Has been used externally for vaginal infections and skin diseases.
Oil from bark has been used medicinally as an anthelmintic and emetic; bark of tree bitter and astringent and has been used in India as a tonic.
Oil from the nuts and seeds has been used for cramps, obstinate ulcers, and elimination of intestinal worms; also applied externally for rheumatism.
Decoction has been used as a cathartic and in large doses slightly narcotic; possible febrifuge; has also been used for hysteria; either the decoction or the powdered root bark has been taken for worms (dose is followed by a purgative).
Hindus consider it a stomachic and tap the tree for toddy.
Was used in the southern United States to expel intestinal worms; a drink was prepared using 4 oz of the bark boiled in 1 quart of water until it was reduced to 1 pint (dose = 1 tbsp every 3 hours being accompanied by a purgative such as castor oil or Cascara sagrada).

!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
DECOCTION = 2 oz bark to 1 pint water; boil down to 1/2 pint; taken 1 tbsp every 2 or 3 hours.
POWDER = 20 grains
EMETIC = 1 oz powder in 1 cup of water (produces vomiting).

Symptoms caused BY this treatment on healthy subjects are afternoon fever and rheumatic pains in various body parts.

Fruits were once packed with dried fruits to prevent insect damage; were also packed with clothes to prevent moth damage.
A decoction of the fruit was sprinkled over growing plants to protect against cutworms and other crop insects.
The leaves are used in libraries and herbaria to protect against insect damage.
The oil is used to protect against locust attack.
The wood is highly prized for its insecticidal properties.
Used in commercial organic pesticides.

The oil is used in hair dressings; resin is added to skin lotions.

Oil obtained from the fruit is used for illumination.
Nuts used to make rosary beads.
Tree exudes a gum which has been considered by some to be aphrodisiac.
The wood is used for making furniture and paneling.
The resin is added to soaps and toothpastes.

©2000 & 2006 by Ernestina Parziale, CH