Neem tea is a medicinal tea that has been used in Asia for hundreds of years, but is this tree-based tea actually good for you? The answer is more complicated than a yes or no.
Neem tea is good for treating infections and disorders related to blood sugar regulation.
The tea’s antibacterial, antifungal properties, and anti-inflammatory properties make it a practical treatment option for oral and digestive ailments, such as tooth infections or stomach ulcers.
While neem tea does offer some serious health benefits, it can also be dangerous or even fatal in large doses.
Neem tea may be an effective remedy in small recommended amounts, but it can have unexpected side effects if it is taken in the wrong dose.
I have to admit that until recently, I didn’t realize that neem was edible. As an avid gardener, I’ve seen neem oil dormant sprays at my local plant nursery. I had no idea that it could be brewed into a tea with so many health benefits.
Keep reading to learn more about what neem tea is good for and how to take it safely.
What Is Neem Tea?
Unlike tea made of tea leaves, which comes from the dried leaves of the camellia Sinensis plant, neem tea is made from the dried leaves of the neem tree. So strictly speaking, it’s a tisane.
The Neem Tree: An Evergreen Tree with Many Uses
The neem tree, Azadirachta indica, is a member of the mahogany family of tropical trees that are native to the Indian subcontinent and most African countries.
Also known as the margosa, nimtree, and Indian lilac, this tree is valued for its timber, foliage, bark, and medicinal neem leaf extract.
Nearly all parts of the neem tree are useful from neem bark, neem twigs, and branches, to neem seeds and fruit of the neem tree.
Neem products in various forms have been used since ancient times in Ayurvedic medicine, cosmetic products, and agriculture, where neem seed oil is used as a pesticide.
What is Neem Tea Good For?
While neem tea is one of the more potent and potentially dangerous herbal teas you can drink, it does have some noted medicinal benefits.
Taken correctly, neem tea can have a positive impact on several systems of the body.
Health Benefits of Neem Leaves
Neem tea is a popular herbal tonic because it is associated with several health benefits that can make it practical as a home remedy useful for treating a variety of minor illnesses and skin disorders.
Here are some of the main medicinal properties of neem tea:
- Antibacterial properties: Neem oil is effective against all kinds of infections because of its anti-bacterial properties, antimicrobial properties, and anti-fungal properties.
- Antioxidant properties: The bioactive compounds in neem help reduce oxidative stress and combat damage by free radicals.
- Reduces infection/inflammation in the digestive tract: The active ingredient in neem tea reduces the inflammation associated with infection as well as stomach irritation like ulcers or flu.
- Boosts immune system: A study showed that neem extracts boosted the immune system of laboratory mice.
- Prevents formation of plaque in the mouth: Used as a mouth rinse rather than a drink, neem water can be used to help enhance oral hygiene by preventing tooth decay and gum disease.
- Reduces and stabilizes blood sugar levels: The polyphenols present in neem tea have been shown to stabilize blood glucose levels, making it a useful tonic for diabetes.
Even though it’s effective as a medicinal tea, and as a dietary supplement neem tea should be taken with caution and under the supervision of a physician. This is because human studies into neem benefits have been limited.
Topical Use of Neem
Besides ingesting neem in herbal tea, when used topically, neem has many other uses:
- Neem extract shampoo can kill head lice.
- When applied as a poultice, neem leaves can treat boils, skin irritation, itchy skin, insect bites, and eczema.
- Because of its ability to fight fungal infections, neem oil is an effective dandruff treatment.
- Because neem is high in antioxidants and vitamin C, when used as a face pack or mask, it can help with hyperpigmentation and fine lines.
Side Effects of Neem Tea
According to RxList, neem tea is considered safe in doses of up to 60 milligrams daily for up to ten weeks consecutively.
There is some concern that larger amounts of neem tea or neem tea consumed over longer periods can have negative effects on health.
Side effects can include the following:
- Stomach problems (vomiting and diarrhea)
- Brain disorders (seizures, coma, and loss of consciousness)
- Kidney and liver damage if consumed long term.
In some rare cases, neem toxicity has been linked with toxic encephalopathy in both adults and children.
Because of its danger in large or extended doses, neem tea should only be consumed as a temporary medicinal tonic in response to an illness, and not as a daily health preventative.
There are much safer herbal teas on the market that do not possess fatal side effects.
Health Risks of Neem Tea
Neem tea consumption poses a particular health risk to pregnant women since the chemicals present in neem tea have been known to produce a miscarriage.
In some cases, neem tea is consumed as a form of contraceptive since it can prevent a pregnancy from coming to term.
Who Should Not Drink Neem Tea?
Pregnant women or women who are trying to get pregnant should not consume neem tea at all.
Neem tea should also be avoided by infants, as it can cause Reye’s syndrome. Even a small dose of neem tea can be fatal to infants.
People with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and low blood pressure should also avoid drinking neem tea, as neem tea can lower blood sugar and blood pressure.
In people who already have low blood sugar or blood pressure, this can cause a medical emergency.
What Does Neem Tea Taste Like?
Neem tea on its own is very bitter so it’s often added to a tea blend along with black or green tea. The bitterness comes from its limonoid content, which can be lessened in a tea blend. You can also try adding some sweetener to make it more palatable.
How Much Neem Tea Should You Drink?
The most neem tea that should be consumed is two cups daily. This amount of neem tea should only be consumed in the short term (less than ten consecutive weeks) and no longer.
The daily dosage for neem tea should not be exceeded even if the person drinking it feels it is not having the desired effect. Overdosing on neem can lead to neem toxicity and even death.
Agricultural Uses of Neem
Aside from its use as a medicinal tea, neem has many agricultural applications:
- The material left after oil extraction is used as a fertilizer.
- Neem can be used as a compost
- When applied to soil it can slow down the loss of nitrogen
- Neem can be used as a natural soil conditioner.
- As a gas, neem can be used as a pest fumigant that doesn’t have bad environmental effects.
Where to Buy Neem Tea
Neem tea is commonly found in Indian specialty grocery stores. For the convenience of international buyers, neem tea is also available in several online markets. If you want the benefits of neem without brewing your own tisane, neem is available in many forms:
How to Make Neem Tea
Making neem tea is a simple process once you have the right ingredients and equipment in place. To make neem tea, follow these simple instructions.
- 1.5 cups of water for each cup of tea
- 4-5 dried neem leaves per cup of tea
- 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
- Lemon juice
- To make the neem tea, add the water to the saucepan and heat it on the stovetop until boiling.
- Add the dried neem leaves along with the knob of ginger (if desired) and allow the mixture to boil for five to ten minutes.
- Strain into mugs adding honey and lemon to taste as desired.
The longer you steep your neem tea, the stronger it will taste.
Neem Tea Is Healthy in Proper Doses
Despite the scary-sounding side effects that can occur if too much neem tea is consumed, when taken in proper amounts this tea can be very beneficial for fighting off infections and illness.
No matter whether you’re just trying to improve your oral health or you’re trying to get your diabetes under control with natural remedies, neem tea is definitely worth a try.
Just make sure to consume it in the recommended amounts for only a short period of time. And remember it’s not meant to be an herbal tea that you should continue to drink every day. Cheers!