Azadirachta indica A.Juss.

Last updated: 9 Nov 2016

Scientific Name

Azadirachta indica A.Juss.


Antelaea azadirachta (L.) Adelb. [Invalid], Antelaea canescens Cels ex Heynh., Antelaea javanica Gaertn., Azadirachta indica var. minor Valeton, Azadirachta indica var. siamensis Valeton, Azadirachta indica subsp. vartakii Kothari, Londhe & N.P.Singh, Melia azadirachta L., Melia fraxinifolia Salisb., Melia indica (A.Juss.) Brandis, Melia parviflora Moon, Melia pinnata Stokes. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Baypay, mambu, repe, veppam, weppa [2]
English Bead tree, cornucopia, Indian lilac, limbodi oil, margosa, margosa tree, neem, neem oil, neem tree, nim [2]
China Lian shu [2]
India Acutakimaram, akuluti, aricu, arkapadapa, bemu, burge neem, cakatam, cavamuli, cippuratimuli, kaayabaevu, kacappu, kadu khajur, kahi baevu, kireshta, limba, limbo chaali, maghz tukhm-e-neem, malakai, neem, neem beej, neem tuo, neemdi, nim, nim paan kadva, nimthing nim, niyamanam, ollebevu, pariyam, picaram, picumattam, pukamalaka, pabhadra, rajaveppu, tuttai, vepa, vepamkottai, poast darakht neem, vepilla, vishirnaparna, weppa, yapa, yeppa [2]
Singapore Kohumba, nimba, weppam [2]
Indonesia Imba, intaran, membha, mempheuh, mimba [2]
Thailand Khwinin, sadao, saliam [2]
Laos Ka dao [2]
Nepal Nim [2]
Tibet Ni mba, ni-mba, nim-pa [2]
Myanmar Bowtamaka, tamabin, tamaka [2]
Vietnam S[aaf]u d[aa]u [2]
Pakistan Neem, nimoli, shirish [2]
Angola Lo mbobola, olo mbombolo [2]
Saudi Arabia Shereesh, zanzalacht [2]
Ethiopia Neem [2]
Kenya Arubaine, dwele, ebei, muarubaine, mwarobame, mwarubaine [2]
Madagascar Traimpilga, voandelaka [2]
Papua New Guinea Azadirachta [2].

Geographical Distributions

Azadirachta indica is a deciduous tree found flourishing throughout India. While it can grow in various conditions, it grows best in well drained and sandy soils. [3]

Botanical Description

A. indica is a member of the family Meliaceae. It is a small to medium size tree, usually evergreen up to 15(30 max)m tall, with a round, large crown up to 10(20max) m in diameter. [4]

The bark is moderately thick, with small, scattered tubercles, deeply fissured and flaking in old trees, dark grey outside and reddish inside, with colourless, sticky foetid sap. [4]

The leaves are alternate, crowned near the end of branches, simply pinnate, 20-40 cm long, exstipulate, light green, with 2 pairs of glands at the base. [4]

The inflorescence is an axillary, with many-flowered thyrsus up to 30 cm long; bracts minute and caduceus. [4]

The fruit is usually 1 to 2 seeded drupe in ellipsoidal green or greenish to yellow or purple when ripe. [4]


No documentation

Chemical Constituent

A. indica crude extract from leaf samples have been reported to contain gamm-elemene, (2E)-3,7,11,15-tetramethyl-2-hexadecen-1-ol, methyl petroselinate, phytol, methyl isoheptadecanoate, hexadecamethylcyclooctasiloxane, butyl palmitate, 2,6,10,14-tetramethylheptadecane, nonadecane, isobutyl stearate, oxalic acid, 2-ethylhexyl tetradecyl est, heptacosane, eicosane, octacosane. [5]

While the composition of A. indica’s leaves from ethyl acetate crude are made up of (Z,E)-α-farnesene, γ-elemene, (2E)-3,7,11,15-tetramethyl-2-hexadecen-1-ol, hexahydrofarnesyl acetone, methyl 14-methylpentadecanoate, 9,12,15-octadecatrienoic acid, methyl es, phytol, 1-tridecene, (9E,12E,15E)-9,12,15-octadecatrien-1-ol. [5]

Chloroform crude extract of A. indica leaves are known to contain (2E)-3,7,11,15-tetramethyl-2-hexadecen-1-ol, methyl 14-methylpentadecanoate, lineoleoyl chloride, phytol, methyl isoheptadecanoate, and nonacosane. [5]

Plant Part Used

Bark, leaves, flower, fruit, seeds, berries, oil and resin. [6][7]

Traditional Use

Though native to the Indian subcontinent, A. indica is widely used throughout African traditional medicine, most commonly on the West Coast. It is such a popular medicine that it is rare to see an unscathed tree near any homestead, as the bark is often scraped off the tree in order to treat numerous maladies. [6]

A. indica is one of the most popular malaria remedies throughout Africa. In order to treat the symptoms of malaria, either a decoction of the bark or the leaves, and in some cases both, is ingested [7]. In lieu of ingestion, A. indica has also been used to treat malaria in the form of a vapor bath, often with numerous other herbs added into the bath [8]. A. indica is also used commonly as a stomachic. An infusion of the flowers has been used to treat gastrointestinal discomfort as well as diarrhea [6].

A. indica is used in order to treat fever of various origins. The bark is infused and ingested to treat headache and fever [9]. In cases in which fever is accompanied with fatigue or stomach pain, a decoction of A. indica leaves is drunk [7].

Another common usage of A. indica is as a treatment for numerous skin disorders. In cases of ulcerated skin, a decoction of A. indica and Ocimum americanum is applied topically. Syphilitic sores have been treated by a wash made from a decoction of the bark. [7]

Preclinical Data


Antimalarial activity

Numerous studies have investigated the antimalarial activities of Oguw Akom [10]. The leaf extract appears to have antiretroviral activity [11] and there are efforts underway to use the water extract of the leaf to develop new drug therapies [12]. The plant leaves contain the lemonoid gedunum which has demonstrated activity against two clones of Plasmodium falciparum and in laboratory analysis appeared to be as effective as chloroquine [13]. In addition to viewing the properties of A. indica as candidates for treating malaria, the oil from this plant has been shown to have insecticidal and insect repellant properties [14][15][16][17][18]. The oil is sometimes applied topically and sometimes is burned with kerosene as a repellent [19]. A. indica extract appears to have demonstrated similar properties to the oil as a topical repellent [20]. Some laboratory analysis has also been conducted on the insect repellant effects of the fruit [21].

Anticancer activity

The investigation of A. indica as a potential drug development candidate in cancer therapy [22][23] has included research into its immunotherapeutic [24] and cytotoxic properties [25]. In addition, laboratory studies have indicated that the leaf extract may induce tumour cellular apoptosis [26]. Animal studies (designed to research new drug candidates) have found that the leaf extract initiates an immune response (Th 1 type) against breast tumour associated antigens [27]. One of the triterpenoids extracted from the flower of the plant (nimbolide) has been examined for its ability to improve the effectiveness of cell cycle disruption [28][29].

Antiulcer activity

Animal models of A. indica have studied the anti-secretory and antiulcer properties of the bark extract [30]. Additionally, A. indica has been studied as an anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, antioxidant [31] antifungal, antiparasitic [32] and antibacterial [33][34]. The antibacterial properties have been studied in regard to the role of this herb in dentistry [35][36].


No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

In a study where the hypoglycemic effect of seeds of A. indica in type-2 diabetes mellitus, after assaying fasting plasma and urinary glucose, A. indica has significant hypoglycemic activity in high dose and can be successfully combined with oral hypoglycemic agents in type-2 diabetic patients whose diabetes is not controlled by these agents. [37]


No documentation

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation


A case of contact dermatitis was reported from use of the oil on the scalp of a patient with alopecia. [38]

Case Report

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing

No documentation


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Azadirachta indica A. Juss [homepage on the Internet].c2013. [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Nov 11]. Available from:
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC World dictionary of plant names: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume I A-C. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press LLC, 2000; p. 499-500.
  3. Premila MS. Ayurvedic Herbs: A clinical guide to the healing plants of traditional Indian medicine. Binghamton, New York: The Hayworth Press; 2006.
  4. Agroforestress Database: A tree reference and selection guide. Ver 4.0. Azadirachta indica A. Juss. [homepage on the Internet]. [cited 2016 Nov 11]. Available from: file:///C:/Users/user/Downloads/Azadirachta_indica.PDF
  5. Hossain MA, Al-Toubi WAS, Weli AM, Al-Riyami QA, Al-Sabahi J. Identification and characterization of chemical compounds in different crude extracts from leaves of Omani neem. J Tabihah University for Sci. 2013:7;181-188.
  6. Iwu, Maurice. Handbook of African Medicinal Plants. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press; 1993.
  7. Neuwinger HD. African traditional medicine: A dictionary of plant use and applications. Stuttgart, Germany: Medpharm Gmbh Scientific Publishers; 2000.
  8. Gbile ZO, Soladoye MO, Adesina SK. Plants in traditional medicine in West Africa. Monogr Syst Missouri Bot Gard.1988;25:343-349.
  9. El-Kamali HH, El-Khalifa KF. Folk medicinal plants of riverside forests of the Southern Blue Nile District, Sudan. Fitoterapia. 1999;66:494-497.
  10. Soh PN, Benoit-Vical F. Are West African plants a source of future antimalarial drugs? J Ethnopharmacol. 2007;114(2):130-140.
  11. Udeinya IJ, Mbah AU, Chijioke CP, Shu, EM. An antimalarial extract from neem leaves is antiretroviral. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2004;98(7): 435-437.
  12. Kirira PG, Rukunga GM, Wanyonyi AW, et al. Anti-plasmodial activity and toxicity of extracts of plants used in traditional malaria therapy in Meru and Kilifi Districts of Kenya. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006;106(3):403-407.
  13. MacKinnon S, Durst T, Arnason JT, et al. Anti-malarial activity of tropical Meliaceae extracts and gedunin derivatives. J Nat Prod. 1997 Apr;60(4):336-341.
  14. Vatandoost H, Vaziri VM. Larvicidal activity of a neem tree extract (Neemarin) against mosquito larvae in the Islamic Republic of Iran. East Mediterr Health J. 2004;10(4-5):573-581.
  15. Dhar R, Zhang K, Talwar GP, Garg S, Kumar N. Inhibition of the growth and development of asexual and sexual stages of drug-sensitive and resistant strains of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum by Neem (Azadirachta indica) fractions. J Ethnopharmacol. 1998;61(1):31-39.
  16. Mishra AK, Singh N, Sharma VP. Use of neem oil as a mosquito repellent in tribal villages of mandla district, madhya pradesh. Indian J Malariol. 1995;32(3):99-103.
  17. Sharma VP, Ansari MA, Razdan RK. Mosquito repellent action of neem (Azadirachta indica) oil. J Am Mosq Control Assoc. 1993;9(3):359-360.
  18. Okumu FO, Knols BG, Fillinger U. Larvicidal effects of a neem (Azadirachta indica) oil formulation on the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae. Malar J. 2007;6:63.
  19. Sharma VP, Ansari MA. Personal protection from mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) by burning neem oil in kerosene. J Med Entomol. 1994;31(3):505-507.
  20. Jones IW, Denholm AA, Ley SV, Lovell H, Wood A, Sinden RE. Sexual development of malaria parasites is inhibited in vitro by the neem extract azadirachtin, and its semi-synthetic analogues. FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1994;120(3):267-273.
  21. Coria C, Almiron W, Valladares G, et al. Larvicide and oviposition deterrent effects of fruit and leaf extracts from Melia azedarach L. on Aedes aegypti (L.) (Diptera: Culicidae). Bioresour Technol. 2008;99(8):3066-3070.
  22. Kumar S, Suresh PK, Vijayababu MR, Arunkumar A, Arunakaran J. Anti-cancer effects of ethanolic neem leaf extract on prostate cancer cell line (PC-3). J Ethnopharmacol. 2006;105(1-2):246-250.
  23. Subapriya R, Bhuvaneswari V, Nagini S. Ethanolic neem (Azadirachta indica) leaf extract induces apoptosis in the hamster buccal pouch carcinogenesis model by modulation of Bcl-2, Bim, caspase 8 and caspase 3. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2005;6(4):515-520.
  24. Chakraborty K, Bose A, Pal S, et al. Neem leaf glycoprotein restores the impaired chemotactic activity of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients by maintaining CXCR3/CXCL10 balance. Int Immunopharmacol. 2008;8(2):330-340.
  25. Bose A, Baral R. Natural killer cell mediated cytotoxicity of tumor cells initiated by neem leaf preparation is associated with CD40-CD40L-mediated endogenous production of interleukin-12. Hum Immunol. 2007;68(10):823-831.
  26. Bose A, Haque E, Baral R. Neem leaf preparation induces apoptosis of tumor cells by releasing cytotoxic cytokines from human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Phytother Res. 2007;21(10):914-920.
  27. Mandal-Ghosh I, Chattopadhyay U, Baral R. Neem leaf preparation enhances Th1 type immune response and anti-tumor immunity against breast tumor associated antigen. Cancer Immun. 2007;7:8.
  28. Roy MK, Kobori M, Takenaka M, et al. Anti-proliferative effect on human cancer cell lines after treatment with nimbolide extracted from an edible part of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica). Phytother Res. 2007;21(3):245-250.
  29. Roy MK, Kobori M, Takenaka M, Nakahara K, Shinmoto H, Tsushida T. Inhibition of colon cancer (HT-29) cell proliferation by a triterpenoid isolated from Azadirachta indica is accompanied by cell cycle arrest and up-regulation of p21. Planta Med. 2006;72(10):917-923.
  30. Bandyopadhyay U, Biswas K, Sengupta A, et al. Clinical studies on the effect of neem (Azadirachta indica) bark extract on gastric secretion and gastroduodenal ulcer. Life Sci. 2004;75(24):2867-2878.
  31. Sithisarn P, Supabphol R, Gritsanapan W. Anti-oxidant activity of Siamese neem tree (VP1209). J Ethnopharmacol. 2005;99(1):109-112.
  32. Abdel-Ghaffar F, Semmler M. Efficacy of neem seed extracts shampoo on head lice of naturally infected humans in Egypt. Parasitol Res. 2007;100(2):329-332.
  33. Nair R, Kalariya T, Chanda S. Antibacterial activity of some plant extracts used in folk medicine. J Herb Pharmacother. 2007;7(3-4):191-201.
  34. Subapriya R, Nagini S. Medicinal properties of neem leaves: a review. Curr Med Chem Anticancer Agents. 2005; 5(2): 149-146.
  35. Vanka A, Tandon S, Rao SR, Udupa N, Ramkumar P. The effect of indigenous Neem Azadirachta indica [correction of (Adirachta indica)] mouth wash on Streptococcus mutans and lactobacilli growth. Indian J Dent Res. 2001;12(3):133-144.
  36. Wolinsky LE, Mania S, Nachnani S, Ling S. The inhibiting effect of aqueous Azadirachta indica (Neem) extract upon bacterial properties influencing in vitro plaque formation. J Dent Res. 1996;75(2):816-822.
  37. Waheed A, Miana GA, Ahmad SI. Clinical investigation of hypoglycemic effect of seeds of Azadirachta-indica in type-2 (NIDDM) diabetes mellitus. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2006;19(4):322-325.
  38. Reutemann P, Ehrlich A. Neem oil: an herbal therapy for alopecia causes dermatitis. Dermatitis. 2008 ;19(3):E12-E15