Neem is one of the most important medicinal herbs with amazing health benefits and medicinal uses but like with any herb, it is important to get to know its side effects to correctly use it and also to prevent any ill effects. We mainly use neem for external application and have never experienced any problems using it for hair and skin care. We do consume neem leaves and neem juice occasionally as a remedy and few people consume neem oil too. More than external application, we should be extremely careful when consuming it especially neem oil.
What Is Neem?
Neem also commonly called margossa is a large tree that is native to India. Neem is widely used in all forms of Indian medicine like Ayurveda, Homeopathy and Unani and many important Indian herbal formulations contains neem as a base ingredient. We use neem in the form of neem oil, neem powder and neem juice.
6 Top Side Effects Of Neem
1. Neem Allergy
In my personal experience, I haven’t seen anyone allergic to neem leaves at all and we use all parts of neem extensively in home remedies. But I found a study where a person who took neem leaves for three consecutive days suffer from allergic contact stomatitis. And very rarely some people experience leucoderma on the lips after using neem tooth brush, the condition reverses once they stop using neem toothbrush.
2. Antifertility Properties
All parts of neem including neem bark, neem flowers and neem oil have antifertility properties so if you are trying for pregnancy, I would highly suggest not consuming neem based products for sometime. The anti fertility property is reversible immediately once you stop taking neem products so please don’t worry if you are taking neem based products and want to get pregnant.
3. During Pregnancy
Internal consumption of neem extract in any form should be avoided during pregnancy as it can cause abortion. In our village, even using neem twigs as toothbrush by pregnant women is not advised. Some women use neem based intimate washes regularly and I would suggest being careful about that too if you are pregnant or trying for pregnancy.
4. Renal Failure
Like with any ingredient, dosage is very very important when it comes to consuming neem extract on a regular basis else it can cause a lot of side effects including kidney failure and you can read a study that supports this claim here. When you are planning to consume neem based extract for long durations of time, seek the advice of a good ayurvedic doctor for the correct dosage based on your body type.
5. Neem Oil Poisoning
Neem oil should not be given to young kids. Unfortunately in some communities it is used as a home remedy for treating cold, cough, stomach pain and for deworming. There was a case where a woman gave 5 ml of neem oil to her 3 month old son for treating indigestion which led to unconsciousness of the baby.
Thankfully after medical treatment he got better and was discharged but parents should be extremely careful about giving neem oil to their children. There was also a reported case of toxic optic neuropathy in a 35 year old women who took 150 ml of neem oil. She experienced bilateral loss of vision for 2 days which improved after hospitalisation.
6. Reduces Blood Sugar Levels
Neem extract is used as a traditional remedy for reducing high blood sugar levels and this has been proven through research too. But this has to be done under clinical supervision as when we consume both neem extract and diabetic medication at the same time, it can lower the blood sugar levels drastically leading to dizziness. If you are a diabetic patient who is considering taking neem extract for reducing high blood sugar levels, please mention it to your physician before doing so.