Plane ticket in hand, luggage by the door. You are running through a mental list of the ‘forgottens’ as your hand reaches the knob. The country about to be your temporary home is prone to Dengue and Malaria. Did you do your research? Can you identify a Neem Tree to save your life?
Neem (Azadirachta indica), a member of the Mahogany family used for centuries to treat numerous conditions. Especially Dengue and Malaria. The medicinal properties are the reason, but I will just tell you it’s as bitter as hell! Once you have a concentrated level running through your blood stream I simply can’t imagine any bug would enjoy the flavor. Do proboscis have taste buds?
Seeds, leaves, flowers, roots and bark are use-able. I prefer the leaves, boiled for 15 minutes and drunk as a tea. Neem is definitely more bitter than Golden Seal so if you concentrate the tea, you won’t have to drink as much. Use as a preventative regime to prepare yourself before you leave. Purchase the powder, stuff it inside little veggie caps (#00). Throw two or three down your gullet everyday for four weeks and you’ve forgotten nothing.
Suffering from flu-like symptoms or a hangover abroad? Find this tree and you won’t be curled up in bed with a blanket while your friend is roaming the country in top form. I also use Neem for my daughters acne and other skin ailments she is prone to. Inflammation is visibly reduced in a matter of minutes. Apply it as a paste to open sores to discourage bugs from gnawing on your wound and to fight infection. Spray the tea on your body as an insect repellent. The list goes on.
Neem is easy to identify. At the risk of sounding cliché, it is one of those trees that whisper in the breeze. The one you will gravitate toward to sit under with a good book. Dark green pinnate leaves are similar to that of a willow and point toward the ground. Native to Pakistan and India, it grows in the Caribbean region as well. Neem is an anthelmintic, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-diabetic, used as a contraceptive and a sedative.
On one trip I spent four solid months in the tropics studying Bush Medicine. Do your homework. Along with many others, this free medicine may just save your life!
I never return home without a bag full of Neem leaves and numerous others from some unsuspecting trees. Questioned at Customs, I simply tell them it is tea.
*An important note, take a break from Neem after 30 days for at least a week. Also, please ask before you pluck leaves off someone’s property.