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July 18, 2013
Neem tree (Azadirachta indica) known also as Indian lilac is one of the amazing natural remedies used in Traditional Chinese, Indian Ayrvedic, Unani medicine and other traditional South Asian medicines for many health conditions. Local therapists call this tree “Heal All”, “Village Pharmacy”, ” Sacred Tree” and with other very respectful names since the multitude of therapeutic effects of the neem tree is very impressive. Health benefits of this natural remedy include anti-bacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, sedative, anti-diabetic, and many other healing actions. Neem tree products have been used for toning liver function and speeding up detoxification processes in the body. It is reported that drinking neem leaf tea can help prevent and relieve the symptoms of type 2 diabetes (it can help control blood sugar levels), and using the infusion topically works great for treating and preventing various skin infections in kids and adult people. There is some evidence about toxic effects of neem tree products, especially in a long-term use, however, scientific prove of the neem tree effects is, unfortunately, lucking.
Neem is also a source of local essential oil, and this natural product is widely used in Indian cosmetics and especially hair care. Neem blossoms are used for performing certain Hindu rituals and celebration ceremonies, and some parts of the tree (namely leaves and bark) have also culinary uses. Neem tree effects and compounds have been actually studied, some principal studies took place in the middle of the 20th century. It is reported earlier this month that a group of scientists from Kolkata continued the research and tried to find new unknown health benefits of neem tree products. An expert team at the Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI) carried out a series of experiments involving lab mice and found out that certain proteins that the scientists managed to obtain from leaves of neem tree can work on inhibiting tumor cells and this way can help fight cancer. The substance they managed to receive has got the name of Neem Leaf Glycoprotein or NLGP.
It is considered that immune cells of most of cancer patients lose their defensive function and fail to destroy cancer cells, though normally immune system is hostile to unknown cells which can be dangerous. The scientists could observe that under effects of NLGP, the function of immune system cells could get to normal and slow down cancer development. At that, awakened immune system cells tend to surround tumor and spur cancer cells to their normal state. “In our recent study we have seen that NLGP has the potency to normalise tumour micro-environment consisting of tumour cells and tumour associated non-transformed cells that help in tumour progression. Basically, NLGP modulates the tumour microenvironment in such a way that it restricts further growth of the tumour,” said Rathindranath Baral, one of the study leaders and the head of the department of immunology of the Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute.
At that, the experts found out that immune system cells called CD8+T are especially effective in their efforts to fight cancer. It is reported that after the function of immune system is restored under the effects of neem tree proteins, the amounts of CD8+T cells increases drastically, and the power to fight cancer cells increases. The researchers are also convinced that having increased amounts of NLGP in the body prevents immune system cells from further shutting down (falling to an anergy state) and failing to fight the disease. The findings of Indian specialists were published this month in PLOS ONE online magazine, and evoked vivid interest in the related professional circles. Cancer research specialists can’t wait to start looking at how the discovered mechanisms are going to work in human cells. If everything goes fine, Indian experts plan to develop a special injection formula enriched with NGLP. “However, we have to take up this molecule with different regulatory bodies, particularly with the Drug Controller General of India, for their approval…Once it is approved, we can take up this in human trial,” the study leader said.Author Info: Hi! My name is Carla and I am a 5th year medical student at HYMS. I am interested in alternative medicine and I have done months researching the topic of herbal medicine. Besides, I like interviewing people and learning more about their experiences with one or another type of herbal treatments. I am willing to contribute to this site with my knowledge, and I would be happy to help you out to the best of my ability with any specific questions or problems related to alternative medicine.