The Sanskrit word nimba etymologically indicates a tree which endows a good health, without untoward effects and is useful in dermatoses. Nimba has acquired a holy aura by its association with the birth of Saints Saibaba and Nimai – (Caitanya Mahaprabhu). It has been used in India throughout the ages. On the new year day, according to Hindu calendar, (Caitra sudi pratipada) it is a custom to eat few tender leaves of nimba. It is believed that it prevents the diseases of kapha dosha. Even now many Indians continue the practice.
It is one of the most powerful blood purifiers and detoxifiers among traditional herbs. In Ayurvedic texts, it is categorized as samsamana – an alleviator of pitta, kandughna – antipruritic and amlapittaghna – relieves hyperacidity, kusthaghna – alleviates skin disorders, jvaraghna – reduces fever, raktapittaghna – combats bleeding disorders, vamaka – induces vomiting, stanyasodhaka – purifies breast milk, krmighna – anthelmintic
The plant grows throughout India, to all the plains and grows wild in the sub Himalayan tract at an altitude of about 800-1000 meters. It is a medium or large sized tree, growing 14-16 meters in height. The trunk is straight, tough, with grayish-back vertical ridges. The bark skin is reddish in color, on inside and secretes thin gum resin. The branches are large, spreading with a circular evergreen crown. The leaves are compound, glabrous, shiny, imparipinnate and serrated. The flowers are yellowish white, tiny, in clusters. The fruits are oblong oval berries, 1.25-2 cm long, green when raw, yellow on ripening. The seeds are solitary. The flowering occurs in March and the plant bears fruits in May-June.
Azadiradhta indica is its botanical name and it belongs to family Meliaceae a lot of research has been done on nimba for its pesticide and disinfectant properties. The constituents of different parts of nimba tree has been studied extensively over the last few decades Margosic acid, nimbin, nimbidin, nimbinin, azadirone, kaempferol, quercurcetin, sitosterol, vanillic acid, meliacins etc. have been isolated from nimba. Margosa oil contains bitter substances nimbin nimbidin and nimbidol. A new tetranor triterpene – nimbidinin – isolated from amorphous bitter principle (nimbin) of seeds and characterized. Azadirone, melianone, 17- epiazadiradione, epoxyazadiradione, melicitrin, vilasinin are isolated.
Classical Ayurvedic Properties
Nimba is bitter and astringent in taste, pungent in the post digestive effect and cold in potency. It alleviates pitta and kapha doshas. It possesses light and dry attributes. It aggravates vata dosha. Nimba works well in skin diseases, fevers, diabetes mellitus, cough and loss of appetite.
It is used both internally as well as externally. The leaves, flowers, skin, seeds and seed oil of nimba have a great medicinal value. The chronic, non-healing wounds and ulcers are dressed with the decoction of its skin for quicker and better healing. The medicated oil of its seeds or leaves in effective in healing the diabetic wounds. Dental infections are well controlled with the gargles of the decoction of its leaves. External application of the paste of its leaves alleviates the itching and burning sensation of the skin. A paste of the ground leaves is used with benefit in abscesses, glandular swellings and wounds. Nimba oil is excellent in rheumatic disorders and swollen joints, for massage, as it gives unfailing relief. Nimba and tila seeds ground in oil, applied on scabies, is an effective remedy. The leaves of nimba being potent wound healers and cleansers are used in number of market prepartions, for skin ailments. Dried leaves are added when storing grains to keep them free from pests and insects. They mey also be kept in clothes and books for the same reasons. The leaves are also burnt for the fumigation of house to keep insects away. The seed oil of nimba is instilled, daily, in the nose, to prevent baldness and wrinkling of the skin. It is also applied on the scalp in lice infestation. In severe itching of the body, a bath is given with the decoction of its leaves, with great benefit. The cream of its seed is applied on piles.
Internally, nimba is a great medicament for various diseases. It is recommended in the treatment of rheumatism, skin diseases like scabies, eczema and ringworm, diabetes, obesity, piles, jaundice and raktapitta – a bleeding diathesis. The bitterness of nimba has an important role in purifying the blood. This property is of great use in skin diseases and blood disorders like raktapitta. To alleviate pitta in hyperacidity, the juice of the fresh leaves is most effective when swallowed with honey. The decoction of pancanga of nimba works well in skin diseases like eczema, scabies and ringworm infestation.
Commonly used herbs in treating fevers are katuka, guduci, kiratatikta and ativisa. The skin of nimba is given along with these, in combination. You can take 20 gm of nimba skin, mashed and add half litre water. Boil it till 1/8 th of its remains and this decoction, when given with honey, relieves the fever, increases the appetite and reduces the weakness, caused due to fever. Nimba is useful in all types of fevers, especially of kapha, and is beneficial as a curative as well as a preventive herb. For a week after delivery, the juice of fresh leaves or decoction is recommended, as it helps in the regression of the uterus and prevents possible inflammation. This also prevents skin diseases and kapha disorders. The sap of the nimba tree is effective in dhatu ksaya catabolic diseases, like tuberculosis. Nimba is also used as an adjuvant is diabetes. Obesity and general diseases.
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
- Nimbadi curna
- Vranaropana taila
- Vranasodhana taila
- Nimba – haridra khanda, etc.