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Azadirachta indica


Azadirachta indica


No documentation.

Vernacular Name

Oguw akom,Zanzalach, Dogon yaro, Aforo-oyinbo, Indian lilac, Persian lilac, Bead tree, Nimba, Holy tree, Neem.


Azadirachta indica tree will grow to heights of up to 30 meters with branching limbs extending 10 to 18 meters. It has dark green compound leaves with serrated leaflets that are long and thin.  These compound leaves can grow up to 6 or 7 centimeters in length. It is often planted as a windbreaker.

Origin / Habitat

A. indica tree is native to parts of India and Burma.  It is an evergreen tree that must grow in tropical regions. It can grow with minimal rainfall and extreme heat. It was introduced to Africa and Asia and then in the late 19th century, it was introduced to some areas of Central America.

Chemical Constituents

About 140 different chemical constituents have been identified in Oguw Akom. Included are diterpenoids, liminoids, and triterpenoids, as well as coumarins, fatty acids and their derivatives, flavonoids, steroids, sulfur compounds and hydrocarbons [1].

Plant Part Used

Bark, root bark, leaves, flowers, fruit, seeds, berries, oil and resin [2][3].

Traditional Use

Though native to the Indian subcontinent, A. indica is widely used throughout African traditional medicine, most commonly on the West Coast. It is such a popular medicine that it is rare to see an unscathed tree near any homestead, as the bark is often scraped off the tree in order to treat numerous maladies [2].

A. indica is one of the most popular malaria remedies throughout Africa. In order to treat the symptoms of malaria, either a decoction of the bark or the leaves, and in some cases both, is ingested [3]. In lieu of ingestion, A. indica has also been used to treat malaria in the form of a vapor bath, often with numerous other herbs added into the bath [4]. A. indica is also used commonly as a stomachic. An infusion of the flowers has been used to treat gastrointestinal discomfort as well as diarrhea [2].

A. indica is used in order to treat fever of various origins. The bark is infused and ingested to treat headache and fever [5]. In cases in which fever is accompanied with fatigue or stomach pain, a decoction of A. indica leaves is drunk [3].

Another common usage of A. indica is as a treatment for numerous skin disorders. In cases of ulcerated skin, a decoction of A. indica and Ocimum americanum is applied topically [3]. Syphilitic sores have been treated by a wash made from a decoction of the bark [3].



Numerous studies have investigated the antimalarial activities of Oguw Akom [6]. The leaf extract appears to have antiretroviral activity [7] and there are efforts underway to use the water extract of the leaf to develop new drug therapies [8]. The plant leaves contain the lemonoid gedunum which has demonstrated activity against two clones of Plasmodium falciparum and in laboratory analysis appeared to be as effective as chloroquine [9]. In addition to viewing the properties of A. indica as candidates for treating malaria, the oil from this plant has been shown to have insecticidal and insect repellant properties [10][11][12][13][14].  The oil is sometimes applied topically and sometimes is burned with kerosene as a repellant [15]. A. indica extract appears to have demonstrated similar properties to the oil as a topical repellant [16]. Some laboratory analysis has also been conducted on the insect repellant effects of the fruit [17].

The investigation of A. indica as a potential drug development candidate in cancer therapy [18][19] has included research into its immunotherapeutic [20] and cytotoxic properties [21]. In addition, laboratory studies have indicated that the leaf extract may induce tumor cellular apoptosis [22]. Animal studies (designed to research new drug candidates) have found that the leaf extract initiates an immune response (Th 1 type) against breast tumor associated antigens [23]. One of the triterpenoids extracted from the flower of the plant (nimbolide) has been examined for its ability to improve the effectiveness of cell cycle disruption [24] [25].

Animal models of A. indica have studied the anti-secretory and anti-ulcer properties of the bark extract [26]. Additionally, A. indica has been studied as an anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, antioxidant [28] antifungal, antiparasitic [29] and antibacterial [30][31].  The antibacterial properties have been studied in regard to the role of this herb in dentistry [32][33]. It has also been studied and developed into a cream to be used as a contraceptive with positive results [34].


A small human study of 10 patients found that the extract of the seeds exhibits hypoglycemic effects in Type 2 diabetes [27].

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.

Interaction with Drugs

Due to the various plant parts used and the pharmacologic activities of each plant part, this herb should be used with caution in combination with conventional drug therapies.

 Based on pharmacology, this herb should be used with caution in individuals taking medication for diabetes due to its hypoglycemic activities [27].

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

No documentation.


Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.

Age limitation

Not to be used in children.


Due to the various plant parts used and the pharmacologic activities of each plant part, this herb should be used with caution in combination with conventional drug therapies.

 Based on pharmacology, this herb should be used with caution in individuals taking medication for diabetes due to its hypoglycemic activities [27].

Adverse reaction

A case of contact dermatitis was reported from use of the oil on the scalp of a patient with alopecia [35].

The root bark is poisonous in large doses.

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  1) Western Herb

  2) Ayuverda


  1. Premila, M.S. Ayurvedic Herbs: A Clinical Guide to the Healing Plants of Traditional Indian Medicine. Binghamton, NY: The Hayworth Press; 2006.
  2. Iwu, Maurice. Handbook of African Medicinal Plants. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1993.
  3. Neuwinger HD. African Traditional Medicine: A Dictionary of Plant Use and Applications. Stuttgart, Germany: Medpharm Gmbh Scientific Publishers; 2000.
  4. Gbile ZO, Soladoye MO, Adesina SK. Plants in Traditional Medicine in West Africa. Monogr Syst Missouri Bot Gard. 1988;25:343-349.
  5. El-Kamali HH, El-Khalifa KF. Folk Medicinal Plants of Riverside Forests of the Southern Blue Nile District, Sudan. Fitoterapia. 1999;66:494-497
  6. Soh PN, Benoit-Vical F. Are West African plants a source of future antimalarial drugs? J Ethnopharmacol. Nov. 1, 2007;114(2):130-140.
  7. Udeinya IJ, Mbah AU, Chijioke CP, Shu, EM. An antimalarial extract from neem leaves is antiretroviral. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. Jul. 2004;98(7): 435-437.
  8. Kirira PG, Rukunga GM, Wanyonyi AW, Muregi FM, Gathirwa JW, Muthaura CN, Omar SA, Tolo F, Mungai GM, Ndiege IO. Anti-plasmodial activity and toxicity of extracts of plants used in traditional malaria therapy in Meru and Kilifi Districts of Kenya. J Ethnopharmacol. Jul. 19,  2006;106(3):403-407.
  9. MacKinnon S, Durst T, Arnason JT, Angerhofer C, Pezzuto J, Sanchez-Vindas PE, Poveda LJ, Gbeassor M. Anti-malarial activity of tropical Meliaceae extracts and gedunin derivatives. J Nat Prod. Apr. 1997;60(4):336-341.
  10. Vatandoost H, Vaziri VM. Larvicidal activity of a neem tree extract (Neemarin) against mosquito larvae in the Islamic Republic of Iran. East Mediterr Health J. Jul-Sep. 2004;10(4-5):573-581.
  11. Dhar R, Zhang K, Talwar GP, Garg S, Kumar N. Inhibition of the growth and development of asexual and sexual stages of drug-sensitive and resistant strains of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum by Neem (Azadirachta indica) fractions. J Ethnopharmacol. May 1998;61(1):31-39.
  12. Mishra AK, Singh N, Sharma VP. Use of neem oil as a mosquito repellent in tribal villages of mandla district, madhya pradesh. Indian J Malariol. Sep. 1995;32(3):99-103.
  13. Sharma VP, Ansari MA, Razdan RK. Mosquito repellent action of neem (Azadirachta indica) oil. J Am Mosq Control Assoc. Sep. 1993;9(3):359-360.
  14. Okumu FO, Knols BG, Fillinger U. Larvicidal effects of a neem (Azadirachta indica) oil formulation on the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae. Malar J. May 22, 2007;6:63.
  15. Sharma VP, Ansari MA. Personal protection from mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) by burning neem oil in kerosene. J Med Entomol. May 1994;31(3):505-507.
  16. Jones IW, Denholm AA, Ley SV, Lovell H, Wood A, Sinden RE. Sexual development of malaria parasites is inhibited in vitro by the neem extract azadirachtin, and its semi-synthetic analogues. FEMS Microbiol Lett. Jul. 15, 1994;120(3):267-273.
  17. Coria C, Almiron W, Valladares G, Carpinella C, LudueƱa F, Defago M, Palacios S. Larvicide and oviposition deterrent effects of fruit and leaf extracts from Melia azedarach L. on Aedes aegypti (L.) (Diptera: Culicidae). Bioresour Technol. May 2008;99(8):3066-3070.
  18. Kumar S, Suresh PK, Vijayababu MR, Arunkumar A, Arunakaran J. Anti-cancer effects of ethanolic neem leaf extract on prostate cancer cell line (PC-3). J Ethnopharmacol. Apr. 21,2006;105(1-2):246-250.
  19. Subapriya R, Bhuvaneswari V, Nagini S. Ethanolic neem (Azadirachta indica) leaf extract induces apoptosis in the hamster buccal pouch carcinogenesis model by modulation of Bcl-2, Bim, caspase 8 and caspase 3. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. Oct-Dec. 2005;6(4):515-520.
  20. Chakraborty K, Bose A, Pal S, Sarkar K, Goswami S, Ghosh D, Laskar S, Chattopadhyay U, Baral R. Neem leaf glycoprotein restores the impaired chemotactic activity of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients by maintaining CXCR3/CXCL10 balance. Int Immunopharmacol. Feb. 2008;8(2):330-340.
  21. Bose A, Baral R. Natural killer cell mediated cytotoxicity of tumor cells initiated by neem leaf preparation is associated with CD40-CD40L-mediated endogenous production of interleukin-12. Hum Immunol. Oct. 2007;68(10):823-831.
  22. Bose A, Haque E, Baral R.Neem leaf preparation induces apoptosis of tumor cells by releasing cytotoxic cytokines from human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Phytother Res. Oct. 2007;21(10):914-920.
  23. Mandal-Ghosh I, Chattopadhyay U, Baral R. Neem leaf preparation enhances Th1 type immune response and anti-tumor immunity against breast tumor associated antigen. Cancer Immun. Mar. 30, 2007;7:8.
  24. Roy MK, Kobori M, Takenaka M, Nakahara K, Shinmoto H, Isobe S, Tsushida T. Anti-proliferative effect on human cancer cell lines after treatment with nimbolide extracted from an edible part of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica). Phytother Res. Mar. 2007;21(3):245-250.
  25. Roy MK, Kobori M, Takenaka M, Nakahara K, Shinmoto H, Tsushida T. Inhibition of colon cancer (HT-29) cell proliferation by a triterpenoid isolated from Azadirachta indica is accompanied by cell cycle arrest and up-regulation of p21. Planta Med. Aug. 2006;72(10):917-923.
  26. Bandyopadhyay U, Biswas K, Sengupta A, Moitra P, Dutta P, Sarkar D, Debnath P, Ganguly CK, Banerjee RK. Clinical studies on the effect of Neem (Azadirachta indica) bark extract on gastric secretion and gastroduodenal ulcer. Life Sci. Oct. 29, 2004;75(24):2867-2878.
  27. Waheed A, Miana GA, Ahmad SI. Clinical investigation of hypoglycemic effect of seeds of Azadirachta-inidca in type-2 (NIDDM) diabetes mellitus. Pak J Pharm Sci. Oct. 2006;19(4):322-325.
  28. Sithisarn P, Supabphol R, Gritsanapan W. Anti-oxidant activity of Siamese neem tree (VP1209). J Ethnopharmacol. May. 13, 2005;99(1):109-112.
  29. Abdel-Ghaffar F, Semmler M.Efficacy of neem seed extracts shampoo on head lice of naturally infected humans in Egypt. Parasitol Res. Jan. 2007;100(2):329-332.
  30. Nair R, Kalariya T, Chanda S.Antibacterial activity of some plant extracts used in folk medicine. J Herb Pharmacother. 2007;7(3-4):191-201.
  31. Subapriya R, Nagini S. Medicinal properties of neem leaves: a review. Curr Med Chem Anticancer Agents.  Mar. 2005; 5(2): 149-146.
  32. Vanka A, Tandon S, Rao SR, Udupa N, Ramkumar P. The effect of indigenous Neem Azadirachta indica [correction of (Adirachta indica)] mouth wash on Streptococcus mutans and lactobacilli growth. Indian J Dent Res. Jul-Sep. 2001;12(3):133-144.
  33. Wolinsky LE, Mania S, Nachnani S, Ling S.The inhibiting effect of aqueous Azadirachta indica (Neem) extract upon bacterial properties influencing in vitro plaque formation. J Dent Res. Feb. 1996;75(2):816-822.
  34. Garg S, Taluja V, Upadhyay SN, Talwar GP.Studies on the contraceptive efficacy of Praneem polyherbal cream. Contraception. Dec. 1993;48(6):591-596.
  35. Reutemann P, Ehrlich A.Neem oil: an herbal therapy for alopecia causes dermatitis. Dermatitis. May-Jun. 2008;19(3):E12-15.

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