Imagine a 24-hour pharmacy carrying one natural product — neem. It's not that far-fetched when you take into account that in India the neem tree is known as "the virtual living pharmacy."

Upon further investigation, the nickname fits. Every part of the neem tree — bark, leaves, fruit, seeds — may be used to treat skin disorders, malaria, periodontal disease, blood and circulatory problems, digestive disorders and infectious diseases, according to a review of the tree's medicinal properties published in the May 2005 issue of Current Medicinal Chemistry — Anti-Cancer Agents. By being antiviral, antibacterial and immunostimulating, neem helps combat the body's three greatest challengers. Good luck finding something like that at your pharmacy.

While centuries of use have found that neem can protect the body externally and internally, modem science has been putting its abilities to the test. Over the past two decades neem has been the subject of more than 200 scientific studies.

Among the most recent findings:

Neem extract causes prostate cancer cell death, making it a potential treatment for the disease, according to a December 2005 Journal of Ethnopharmacology study.

A new flavanone (a natural compound with antioxidant properties) named azharone exists in neem flowers, according to a study in the March 2006 issue of Natural Product Research. Though this research is preliminary, it echoes a May 2005 Journal of Ethnopharmacology study that found neem had strong antioxidant potential.

Neem bark extract may be a therapeutic way to control esophageal, stomach or intestinal ulcers, according to a study in the October 2004 issue of Life Science.

Neem could be a natural insect repellent. In one of many studies, Texas A&M University researchers reported in the January 2006 issue of Pest Management Science that surfaces covered with neem juice may repel diamondback moths.
So the next time you need a bug repellant, a stomach soother or an antioxidant boost, consider tapping into the living pharmacy and reach for neem.

PHOTO (COLOR): Keep this bugger off you.

PHOTO (COLOR): NEEMAMERICA'S NEEM GEL with aloe vera soothes stings, cuts and repels mosquitoes
PHOTO (COLOR): NEEMAURA NATURALS NEE CREAM is a smooth-as-silk blend for skin woes and ay plump up wrinkles too.
PHOTO (COLOR): Try HIMALAYA PURE HERBS NEE twice daily with meals to help with skin disorders
PHOTO (COLOR): THERA NEE SUPERCRITIAL o2 EXTRACT OF NEE provides a spectrum of neem benefits in daily supplement.
By Sheryll Alexander

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Judy Jacka, RN, ND. The Crossing Press, Watsonville, Ca. 1999.354 pp. Softcover $16.95.
Most natural healing books address many conditions, but typically avoid the difficult, chronic disorders. This book is not so shy. In an A to Z of 150 disorders, it includes conditions such as cancer, diabetes, dementia, multiple sclerosis, Down's syndrome, and thyroid problems. Rather than a how-to text that supplies herbal programs and dosages, it gives encouragement that herbs do work through successful case histories combining herbs, homeopathy, and diet. It is up to the reader to seek out an herbal practitioner. Another book by an Australian is Herbs for Healing, by Robyn Kirby (Australian Broadcasting, GPO Box 9994, Sydney, NSW 2001). 216 pp. is less detailed but offers herbal advice in a down-home, conversational style big on compassion. NEEM: the Divine Tree. By H.S. Puri. Harwood Academic Pub., Amsterdam, The Netherlands (Available from American Botanical Council 800-373-7105). 1999.
By Kathi Keville