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Native to India, the neem tree has the botanical name Azadirachta indica. For centuries, people in India used its leaves, seeds and bark for many purposes. Neem leaves have both insecticidal and medicinal properties. The National Center for Biotechnology Information reports that neem leaves contains substances that have a vast range of medicinal properties that include antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic uses. Although most people may buy these products, you can also make neem leaf extracts at home as pest repellents or for personal use.
Making your own neem leaf extract is simple.
All you need is a supply of fresh neem leaves, fresh water, and something to filter your brew.
1: Making large amounts of a watery neem leaf extract.
- Cover the neem leaves with water at a ratio of one kilogram of leaves to five liters of water.
- Let the leaves soak over night.
- Don’t heat or boil the mix. Heat will actually lower the Azadirachtin content of the neem leaf extract.
- The next day grind the leaves in the water, and then strain the mixture. (I usually do this in two steps: first I strain the whole brew through something like cheesecloth to remove most of the sludge. Then I filter it through a proper filter paper. The result is a clear liquid.)
If you want to make neem leaf extract to use for spraying in the garden you can soak the neem leaves for up to a week. It makes the extract more effective, but phew, it smells foul!
If you want to use it elsewhere, for example add it to your bath water for skin protection etc., then you want to strain it before it starts smelling. You can keep neem leaf extract in a dark bottle in the fridge for several days. However, depending on the use it’s much safer to make it fresh.
2: A quick neem bath
To quickly make a small amount of neem leaf extract to add to the bath water just make a strong cup of tea from fresh or dried neem leaves.
3: Neem leaf recipe for eye wash or mouth wash
To make a neem eye wash to use for itchy, red eyes, conjunctivitis etc. boil ten fresh and clean neem leaves in a liter of water for ten minutes, along with some cotton (to absorb impurities).
The same mix can be used as a gargle to treat a sore throat, or as a mouth wash to treat gum disease and prevent tooth decay.
4: Neem face wash
Boil neem leaves in water for a few minutes. Use the same amount you would use for strong cup of tea. Strain, let it cool down, and use it as an antibacterial face wash several times a day. Beneficial to treat acne and pimples.
Diluted Neem Leaf Extract for Pets
Grind 1 kg of neem leaves in a mortar with a pestle.
Add 5 to 6 L of water and let the mixture steep overnight.
Strain the mixture with a cheese cloth and use the resulting liquid as a pet shampoo.