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Similarly to the Moringa Tree, the Neem Tree has a whole host of nutritional and healing properties. In India, the tender shoots and flowers of the Neem tree can be eaten as a vegetable. In Tamil Nadu a soup-like dish using the flower of the Neem is prepared, and in Bengal, the young Neem leaves are cooked in oil and tossed together with eggplant - usually served with rice as an appetiser.
Products and food made from Neem trees have been used in India for over two millennia for their medicinal properties. It is believed by Ayurvedic practitioners that Neem acts as an anti fungal, antibacterial, antiviral, contraceptive and sedative agent, also used for healthy hair, to improve liver function, detoxify the blood, balance blood sugar levels and to treat skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis.
Many medicinal trees like Neem, are in abundance in the Amazon rainforest - Brazil’s greatest natural resource and invaluable to the rest of the world. Ranging from anxiety to infertility, cancer and AIDS, these medicinal plants have long been used by ancient civilisations for their powerful medicinal properties, and used to heal all ailments that face mankind. In Western modern medicine, around 25% of all drugs are derived from rainforest plants. That’s an impressive statistic, especially considering that less than 5% of Amazon plant species have been studied for their potential medicinal benefits.
Jon Vidal’s recent article highlights how the increasing demand for wood, minerals and resources from the global north leads to the degraded landscapes and ecological disruption that drives disease. In many ways, it is humanity’s destruction of biodiversity that creates the conditions for new viruses such as Covid-19 to emerge, highlighting how our relationship with nature is flawed.
We have much to learn from the natural world, as we’ve only likely discovered a small percentage of plants that are beneficial to us. As such, exploring further will provide us with infinite opportunities to cure, prevent or mitigate such devastating infectious diseases that ultimately pose a significant threat to global health, security, and the economy.