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.
Very frequently the commercial medicines are quite costly because of the sheer labour involved in their manufacture. Moreover, many synthetic drugs do have undesirable side effects. Ayurvedic medicinal plants do afford a possible alternative on both the counts. The fascination that medicinal plants afford purely from a scientific point of view is absorbing, highly significant and of potentially inestimable value.
We should first appreciate that every active principle that a medicinal plant produces is but a product of its own natural biosynthesis. Can we therefore specify the stage and the place of its maximum production by the plant? What measures of cultivation and agricultural practices can we adopt in its most successful and commercial exploitation?
Since its further processing into the commercial pharmaceutical ultimately, is a long drawn business, it is very likely to get adulterated before it reaches as raw material to the manufacturing centre. Some of these means of adulteration are quite ingenuous for example, supplying wheat flour mixed with chilly powder as a raw material for turmeric powder in American markets.
How to recognize these adulterants and ensure a pure supply? In case a particular medicinal plant is not easily procurable or cultivable, can we think of other substitutes for them? It is in this sense, that the long lists for alternatives that Ayurvedic authors speak of, or, the many botanical varieties or related species that nature offers, are both relevant.
The crucial fascination of medicinal plants to science is to fully understand as to how does the drug or its active principle does what it does. For example how does an analgesic or vedanahara (a pain removing) drug remove pain and how does a healing or ropaniya drug brings about a quick regeneration of the injured tissue?
Very often we do not know all the details we would like to know-here though we do know that these drugs carry out their specific actions successfully, invariably and regularly. The problems that medicinal plants offer for science in this sense are simply legion.