Defective vision is a common problem in children nowadays. The main reasons for eye defects are reading in bad light ( either too dim or excessively bright), excessive reading, reading in moving trains, buses or cars, watching too much television, seeing too many films and eating artificial foods.
There is no letter that cannot be used for composing some mantra or the other, no root that cannot be utilized as some medicine or the other and no person who cannot be put to some use or the other. It is only the proper employer whom we lack here”—so declares this ancient Sanskrit saying. This does not mean that all plants are presumed to be automatically medicinal.
The information available on Neem in the Texts of Ayurveda as well as popular belief is extremely varied and the plant of Neem has many relatives which serve similar or sometimes even better purposes.
Neem leaf is one such source where vitamin A is just abundant. The sweet fruits are also edible and are in fact eaten much during famine. Leaves are often cooked and eaten as adjuncts in meals. Even its flowers and tender leaves can be eaten by themselves in curry or along with other greens. In fact, neem leaf was a regular leafy vegetable during the times of Charaka.
(a) The parts used: Almost all portions of the neem plant are useful in medicine: root, bark of the main trunk and the branches, leaf, flower, the wood, the gum, the exuding liquor or mad, or the neem toddy, the unripe and the ripe fruit, the mature seed and the oil extracted from it, and so on. As far as the bark is concerned it is its inner layer rather than the outer and particularly the fresh rather than the old and the stored bark that is preferred as the source of the medicine. The bark is an officially accepted drug in Indian Pharmacopea or the official stock list of Medicines and is called Azerachtl Cortex.
The familiar Neeme plant belongs to the scientific family, Meliaceae. The plants of this family have some general medicinal properties. They are effective against kushta or skin diseases, worm infection and fever. They are bitter in taste but nourishing, astringent viz. have a power of contracting organic tissues (thus aiding healing up of the wounds) and induce vomiting.
Neem or nirnba as it is called in Sanskrit is a plant of varied uses in Ayurveda since ancient times and is highly extolled by expert physicians as well as practitioners of folk lore medicine. It is a much prized household remedy also. We have popular neem toothpaste and powder and the neem soap. These are tributes of modern pharmaceutical industry or the manufacturers of medicine to this age-old reputation of neem in oral hygiene and keeping up the health of skin.
Neem is useful for many diseases in man. But its major fields are leprosy, skin diseases and diseases of blood. There is nothing like neem in treating skin diseases particularly.
As in kushta, neem has been extensively utilised for the diseases of small pox, measles, cataract associated with small pox, German measles, eczema, sarcoptes (itch-mite) and scabies. It is employed in general dressing of the afflictions of these diseases in various stages as well as a sure, easily available and cheap remedy for all of them. There are many other bitter drugs employed similarly. However, since small pox is now totally eradicated in India, all this is mainly of historical interest now.
From very ancient times in India, the use of neem In leprosy has been prevalent. In the times of Charaka a decotion of the five organs (bark, leaf, root, flower and seed) of neem was given in the early stages of leprosy. Among the six decoctions that Charaka mentions for kushta there is one with neem and the bitter patola or the snake gourd; this was recommended for external application during the bathing of the patient.