Neem (Azadirachta indica): prehistory to contemporary medicinal uses to humankind

Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2013 Jul;3(7):505-14. doi: 10.1016/S2221-1691(13)60105-7.


The divine tree neem (Azadirachta indica) is mainly cultivated in the Indian subcontinent. Neem has been used extensively by humankind to treat various ailments before the availability of written records which recorded the beginning of history. The world health organization estimates that 80% of the population living in the developing countries relies exclusively on traditional medicine for their primary health care. More than half of the world's population still relies entirely on plants for medicines, and plants supply the active ingredients of most traditional medical products. The review shows the neem has been used by humankind to treat various ailments from prehistory to contemporary.

Keywords: Azadirachta indica; Palm leaf manuscripts; Prehistory.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Portrait
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Azadirachta*
  • Developing Countries*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / history
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / history
  • History, 17th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • History, Ancient
  • History, Medieval
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / history
  • Hypertension / history
  • India
  • Manuscripts, Medical as Topic / history*
  • Medicine, Ayurvedic / history*
  • Phytotherapy / history*
  • Plant Extracts / history*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Skin Diseases / history
  • Smallpox / history
  • Urologic Diseases / history


  • Plant Extracts