Littered with contaminated food, poisoned water supplies, and hostile government agencies looking for control over the most minute aspects of life, today’s world is a major health hazzard. Humans are continually being bombarded by chemicals, toxins, pollutants, radiation, GMOs, and stresses that cause detrimental effects on health. One of the many negative effects of these myriad pollutants is the production of free radicals, or unstable molecules, created through the process of oxidation. Research indicates that elevated levels of free radicals are associated with many disorders, including cardiovascular diseases, ocular diseases, age-related nervous degeneration, and cancer. Consuming antioxidants such as Neem tree extracts from flowers, leaves, and stem bark counters the effect of free radicals and the various stresses that cause oxidation, providing protection for healthy cellular activity.
Antioxidants are molecules that prevent or slow the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that removes electrons from one molecule and applies them to an oxidizing agent. This produces an unstable molecule that tries to react with other molecules to replace its missing electron. Alhough oxidation is a natural process and necessary for healthy functioning, too many of these unstable molecules or free radicals can do a great deal of damage as they work to stabilize themselves. Neem extracts help to keep the oxidation reaction at an optimal level, which decreases free radicals and the damage they cause.
Glutathione, lipoic acid, and CoQ10 are antioxidants that are naturally produced by the body; however, the amounts produced decrease with age. Other antioxidants like vitamins A, E, and C are necessary for optimal health, but aren’t produced by the body and have to be ingested in the diet. There are many other antioxidants found in nature, such as neem, natrol and flavonoids, which are found in fruits, vegetables, and medicinal plants.
Wonders of the Neem Tree
Scientific research continues to discover new sources of antioxidants in nature. One source has been used for thousands of years in India, but has only recently come to the attention of the Western world. This medicinal plant is the Neem tree, often called “The Wonder Tree” or “The Village Pharmacy” due to its wide variety of medicinal properties, including its use as an antioxidant.
Antioxidant Properties of Neem
Neem is one of the most prominent medicinal plants used in the ancient Indian health care system of Ayurveda. It possessed both antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. All parts of the Neem tree are used, from root and bark to seeds and leaves; and its beneficial properties seem endless, ranging from the treatment of mouth infections, degenerative diseases, stroke and cancer to its use as a contraceptive, herbicide, and a pesticide. Studies have shown that the leaves of the Neem tree have the greatest antioxidant effects, where the compounds within the leaf possess free radical-scavenging properties. These Neem leaf compounds, or fractions, have been shown to modulate certain abnormal processes of cancer cells through their antioxidant properties. Neem has also demonstrated an ability to boost levels of other antioxidants in the body, such as glutathione and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). This ability has proven restorative in rats that have suffered strokes, and is promising for future human trials. Perhaps the best aspect of the Neem tree is its low toxicity—very high levels of Neem are necessary to produce any discernable side effects.
Neem is available in supplements, oil and dried tea leaves. The best products are fresh and purchased from pharmacies selling Ayurvedic medicines. Neem oil is also available in garden centers for use in the yard.
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