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Azadirachta indica

Azadirachta indica


No documentation.

Vernacular Name

Mahanimba, himadruma, parvatanimba vraksha, persian lilac, common bead tree, mullayvempu.


Mahanimba is a short tree growing to around four or five feet tall. It produces opposite, pinnate leaves with many small leaflets. The inflorescenses hold many small white flowers that are very fragrant. The fruit is glabrous drupe and its shape is oval to round.

Origin / Habitat

Azadirachta indica, or Mahanimba, is a large, deciduous tree found flourishing throughout India. While it can grow in various conditions, it grows best in well drained and sandy soils. [1]

Chemical Constituents

Due to its wide variety of uses, virtually every part of the A. indica plant has medicinal value. As many as 140 different chemical compounds have been found within the different parts of the plant. [3] 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

Every part of the Mahanimba plant is used for various medicinal purposes. This includes the bark, root bark, leaves, flowers, fruit, seeds, berries, oil and resin. [2]

Traditional Use

One of the most recognized Ayurvedic herbs in the world, Mahanimba is regarded in India as having almost magical properties. Medicinal properties of Mahanimba have been known since the Vedic times. In Ayurveda, Mahanimba is traditionally used for skin irritation, inflammations, and liver disorders. Additionally, each plant part is reported to have distinctive properties. The bark is emetic, flowers are emmenagogue and the root bark is anthelminic in small quantities and dangerously narcotic in larger quantities. [2] It is also noted for its antibacterial activities as well as having been used for certain skin and blood diseases. [4] These antibacterial properties led in traditional use to promoting oral health. [5] A human clinical supports the traditional use of Mahanimba oil as a treatment for scabies finding that in over 800 people treated with a paste made with Mahanimba and Tumeric oil, 97% were considered cured after 3 to 15 days of treatment. [6] 

Mahanimba pacifies the Pitta and Kapha doshas and intensifies the Vata dosha. It has a cooling effect on the body, and its taste is classified as tikta (bitter). 


Infusion – One to two teaspoonfuls (5-10gm) of dried leaf, add to 1 cup (150ml) hot water. Steep for 10minutes and drink 1-2 times daily. [2]



Numerous studies have investigated the anti-malarial activities of A. indica. [7] The leaf extract appears to have antiretroviral activity and there are efforts underway to use the water extract of the leaf to develop new drug therapies. [8][9] 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. [10] 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. [11][12][13][14][15] The oil is sometimes applied topically and sometimes burned with kerosen as a repellant. [16] A. indica extract appears to have demonstrated similar properties to the oil as a topical repellant. [17] Some laboratory analysis has also been conducted on the insect repellant effects of the fruit. [18] 

The investigation of A. indica as a potential drug development candidate in cancer therapy has included research into its immunotherapeutic and cytotoxic properties. [19][20][21][22] In addition, laboratory studies have indicated that the leaf extract may induce tumor cellular apoptosis. [23] 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. [24] 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. [25][26]  


Animal models of A. indica have studied the anti-secretory and anti-ulcer properties of the bark extract. [27] A small human study of 10 patients found that the extract of the seeds exhibits hypoglycemic effects in Type 2 Diabetes. [28] Additionally, A. indica has been studied as an anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, antioxidant, antifungal, antiparasitic and antibacterial. [5][29][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]

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.

Interaction with Drugs

Based on pharmacology, this herb should be used with caution in individuals taking medication for diabetes due to its hypoglycemic activities. [35] 

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.

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

The root bark is poisonous in large doses.


Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

A case of contact dermatitis was reported from use of the oil on the scalp of a patient with alopecia. [36] 

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  1) Western Herb

  2) South African Herbs


  1. Premila, M.S. Ayurvedic Herbs: A Clinical Guide to the Healing Plants of Traditional Indian Medicine. Binghamton, NY: The Hayworth Press; 2006.
  2. Nadkarni AK. Indian Materia Medica. Bombay:Popular Prakashan Press; 1976.
  3. Charles V, Charles SX.The use and efficacy of Azadirachta indica ADR ('Neem') and Curcuma longa ('Turmeric') in scabies. A pilot study. Trop Geogr Med. Jan1992;44(1-2):178-181.
  4. Gerson, Scott.  National Institute of Ayurvedic Medicine.  Medicinal Plants/Ayurvedic Medicines  1997.  Available from  [Accessed on 16 February 2009].
  5. Subapriya R, Nagini S. Medicinal properties of neem leaves: a review. Curr Med Chem Anticancer Agents.  Mar2005; 5(2): 146-149.
  6. Charles V, Charles SX.The use and efficacy of Azadirachta indica ADR ('Neem') and Curcuma longa ('Turmeric') in scabies. A pilot study. Trop Geogr Med. Jan1992;44(1-2):178-181.
  7. Soh PN, Benoit-Vical F. Are West African plants a source of future antimalarial drugs? J Ethnopharmacol. 1Nov2007;114(2):130-140.
  8. Udeinya IJ, Mbah AU, Chijioke CP, Shu, EM. An antimalarial extract from neem leaves is antiretroviral. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. Jul2004;98(7): 435-437.
  9. 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. 19Jul 2006;106(3):403-407.
  10. MacKinnon S, Durst T, Arnason JT, Angerhofer C, Pezzuto J, Sanchez-Vindas PE, Poveda LJ, Gbeassor M.Antimalarial activity of tropical Meliaceae extracts and gedunin derivatives. J Nat Prod. Apr1997;60(4):336-341.
  11. 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-Sep2004;10(4-5):573-581.
  12. 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.
  13. 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. Sep1995;32(3):99-103.
  14. Sharma VP, Ansari MA, Razdan RK.Mosquito repellent action of neem (Azadirachta indica) oil. J Am Mosq Control Assoc. Sep1993;9(3):359-360.
  15. Okumu FO, Knols BG, Fillinger U.Larvicidal effects of a neem (Azadirachta indica) oil formulation on the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae. Malar J. 22May2007;6:63.
  16. Sharma VP, Ansari MA.Personal protection from mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) by burning neem oil in kerosene. J Med Entomol. May1994;31(3):505-507.
  17. 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. 15Jul1994;120(3):267-273.
  18. Coria C, Almiron W, Valladares G, Carpinella C, Ludueña 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. May2008;99(8):3066-3070.
  19. Kumar S, Suresh PK, Vijayababu MR, Arunkumar A, Arunakaran J.Anticancer effects of ethanolic neem leaf extract on prostate cancer cell line (PC-3). J Ethnopharmacol. 21Apr 2006;105(1-2):246-250.
  20. 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-Dec2005;6(4):515-520.
  21. 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. Feb2008;8(2):330-340.
  22. 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. Oct2007;68(10):823-831.
  23. 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.
  24. 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. 30Mar2007;7:8.
  25. Roy MK, Kobori M, Takenaka M, Nakahara K, Shinmoto H, Isobe S, Tsushida T.Antiproliferative effect on human cancer cell lines after treatment with nimbolide extracted from an edible part of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica). Phytother Res. Mar2007;21(3):245-250.
  26. 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. Aug2006;72(10):917-923.
  27. 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. 29Oct2004;75(24):2867-2878.
  28. 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. Oct2006;19(4):322-325.
  29. Sithisarn P, Supabphol R, Gritsanapan W.Antioxidant activity of Siamese neem tree (VP1209). J Ethnopharmacol. 13May2005;99(1):109-112.
  30. Abdel-Ghaffar F, Semmler M.Efficacy of neem seed extract shampoo on head lice of naturally infected humans in Egypt. Parasitol Res. Jan2007;100(2):329-332.
  31. 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.
  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-Sep2001;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. Dec1993;48(6):591-596.
  35. 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. Oct2006;19(4):322-325.
  36. Reutemann P, Ehrlich A.Neem oil: an herbal therapy for alopecia causes dermatitis. Dermatitis. May-Jun2008;19(3):E12-15. 

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