If you are an Indian or from any of the neighboring countries, you are probably making face at this moment – recalling the taste of neem leaves. Right? Yes, it is bitter, in fact very bitter. I am sure you must have some childhood memory where your parents or grandparents forced you to eat neem leaves.However, no matter what it tastes like, you can’t ignore the importance of neem leaves for diabetes.
Not only neem leaves, it’s fruit, flower, bark, twig every possible part offer multiple health benefits. Neem (Azadirachta indica L.) used for therapeutic purposes for centuries in Ayurveda, Unani, Homeopath, and even in traditional Chinese treatment. Are you thinking what is so special about neem? Well, the long list of active compounds – azadirachtin, nimbin, nimbidin, nimbidol, nimbolinin, sodium nimbinate, salannin, quercetin , and gedunin – gives all the special properties for prevention as well as treatment of various diseases.
Neem leaves for diabetes
Diabetes is almost like an epidemic today. As per WHO, there are more than 422 million people in the world struggling with diabetes. Data also suggests there will be more than 470 million people with pre-diabetes (blood sugar in between normal and diabetic range) by 2030. Scary right? That means even if you are not diabetic today, there is always a chance tomorrow. An amazing role is played by Neem leaves for diabetes.
What exactly go wrong in diabetes?
If you are diabetic (Type 2), you struggle to keep your blood sugar level under control. Insulin is the key hormone, secretes from the beta cells of your pancreas, carries your blood sugar to cells to nourish your body, and release energy. During diabetes, your body either stops responding to insulin or starts producing a lesser amount. As a result, your blood glucose level stay always high and your cells are left hungry for necessary nutrition.
How neem leaves helps for managing diabetes?
Neem acts as antidiabetic. Neem leaves contain many active ingredients such as nimbin, nimbanene, 6-desacetylnimbinene, nimbandiol, nimbolide, ascorbic acid, nimbiol, etc. Neem leaves extract helps to control and prevent diabetes in two ways –
- Improves insulin sensitivity – that means it helps our body to balance blood sugar even with lesser insulin
- Stimulate the beta cells to produce insulin
Neem leaves also help to control diabetes-associated health problems –
- Anti nephrotoxicity effect of neem leaves – Long term diabetes associates with kidney disorder and kidney failure. Study shows that neem leaves extract helps to protect kidney by reducing chance of oxidative damage .
- Neuroprotective effects – A study has shown that neem leaves extract protect brain tissue and nerves from certain types of neurotoxicity.
- Wound healing – Diabetes is generally associated with delayed wound healing. If there is a cut, diabetic patients take more time to heal the wound. Neem leaves extract helps to faster the entire process. The extract helps to boost the inflammatory response and heal the damages tissue faster.
Other benefits of neem leaves
Neem leaves act as an antioxidants
Free radical or reactive oxygen species are the major key factors to produce various diseases. Therefore neutralizing free radicals is a crucial step to prevent diseases. Antioxidants generally act in two ways
- deactivate the free radicals from attacking the cell wall and,
- activate the antioxidative enzymes
Neem leaves extract acts as a natural antioxidant. Nimbolide present in neem leaves is a potential active compound that shows excellent antiradical scavenging activity.
Neem leaves act as anticancer compound
Multiple studies have pointed out the significant role of neem leaves extract in preventing cancer. The active compounds inhibit the growth of cancer cells by various mechanisms suppressing tumor-producing genes, apoptosis, cellular proliferation, etc.
Neem leaves are antiinflammatory
Neem leaves extract acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent mainly by regulating pro-inflammatory enzymes activity.
Hepatoprotective activity of neem leaves
Medicinal plants play a very important role as hepatoprotective without any adverse effects. Neem leaves are not any exception. Study shows that neem leave extract helps to protect the liver from various toxicity produced as a metabolic by-product or as a side effect of prolonging medication (eg tuberculosis etc.).
Neem leaves act as antimicrobial
You must have seen neem as a core ingredient in different dental, hair, skincare products. Neem leaves are antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal which makes them extremely popular in the cosmetics industry. Neem leaves inhibit the growth of various microbes such as viruses, bacteria, and pathogenic fungi. Thus for skin irritation, itching, eczema, warts, chickenpox, smallpox, skin marks, dandruff, or any hair or dental issues neem has always been the first choice for centuries.
Neem leaves have antimalarial activity. Study shows that neem leaves help to check the growth of Plasmodium parasite.
Neem leaves control blood pressure
Neem leaves act as a vasodilator and thus help to reduce blood pressure.
Neem leaves boost immunity
Studies have shown that intake of neem leaves (in powdered form) boost the immunity and faster the growth of specific antibody.
When and how to take neem leaves?
March April is the time when you should take neem leaves a few times a week to avail yourself all its goodness. There are mainly 5 ways to include neem in your diet. Take 5-7 neem leaves in the morning. Wash them thoroughly and
- Chew them directly or,
- Crush them in a mortar. Make a paste. Add it in a glass of water and drink the juice or,
- Boil it with 2 cups of water. Make the volume into half. Steep them for 5 minutes. Strain it and drink the tea or,
- Add them to cook any vegetable following your tradition or,
- Roast a large amount of neem leaves on a dry pan, crush them to form powder. Store it in a glass jar. Add one teaspoon of powder in a glass of water and drnk.
Can I replace diabetic medicine with neem leaves?
No, taking neem leaves 3-4 days a week is fine to get the benefit. But do not stop taking medicine on your own. Always check your blood sugar level, consult your doctor and then make a decision.
Moderation is the key to leading a healthy lifestyle. Good foods are bad if taken in excess. Similarly, your body is well equipped to handle “not so good food” if taken in a little amount once a month. Neem leaves are great. But overuse can create harmful effects on your body. So calm down. Take 5-7 neem leaves 3-4 times a week by directly chewing or by making juice/ tea or using it in vegetables. Diabetes is a lifestyle disorder. So until you fix your lifestyle no matter how many neems leave you to chew, it won’t give you the desired result. Eat healthy, balanced food. Eat mindfully. Stay active and exercise regularly. Sleep deep for 7-8 hr to rejuvenate your body. Note none of these is an option. You need to follow them every single day and embrace them into your lifestyle for reversing your diabetes. Yes, it is possible. Just start trying.
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