What Does the Future Hold for Neem?

The neem tree’s versatility is driving the incursion of this fast growing crop in new and diverse industries. Owing to its more than 200 bioactive compounds the neem is showing promise in providing safe, natural solutions to a wide range of issues across the board, thus reaffirming its status as the UN’s ‘Tree of the 21st century’. An environmentally friendly and financially viable solution to some of the world’s most pressing challenges the neem tree is finding itself in the spotlight for profound and diverse scientific research.

In response to the growing interest in understanding and taking advantage of one of natures more generous species, the neem genome was recently re-sequenced. Using cutting-edge technology in order to achieve a much greater understanding of the tree’s genetics, the scientific community will further explore all the possible applications of the incredible tree. While agriculture, medicine and cosmetics are already utilizing the many benefits neem has to offer, newly discovered continue to bring a myriad of players into the field.

Learning from the well known antibacterial and anti fungal properties of neem, a Nigerian scientist, concerned with the infectious nature of hospital water waste, recently published a peer reviewed, scientific research paper on neem husk and neem cake activated carbon. By using neem activated carbon instead of any other, like coconut or rice for instance, the filtering process reduces up to 99.3% of bacteria, compared to 70% with other natural materials, and 90% of all fungal contaminations. Several studies prove neem’s capacity to filter heavy metals like lead and cadmium, while other are investigating its promising capacity to remove arsenic from heavily polluted waters. All in all, putting together this global knowledge, the possibilities of neem based products for filtering varying degrees of polluted water from heavy metals along with harmful bacteria such as Escherichia Coli and Streptococcus aureus, are certainly strong for the near future.

Along the same lines, and utilizing neem superior antibacterial properties, but from a completely different angle, scientist have newly discovered a way to imbed, by means of a common solvent, the properties of neem oil into the structure of PET Polyester, including of course, the antibacterial. The possibilities again, are enormous, from medical staff clothing, wound dressings and hospital bedding to outdoor enthusiasts and chefs. As soon as this technology integrates the mosquito repellent and insecticidal characteristics of neem, the expansion includes mosquito nets that safely prevent several mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, and this is just the beginning.

The most ingenious, cutting-edge technology researching neem today is nanotechnology. In particular, the use of a neem fungal endophyte for the biosynthesis of gold nanoparticles to aid in the battle against cancer. These gold nanoparticles inhibit malignant cell growth while being completely safe for health cells. However, this is only one of the ways neem can help with cancer, from promoting cell apoptosis to protecting healthy cells from chemotherapy. Whereas confirmation and approval, for the most advanced technologies and applications are still pending, the recognition of the versatility of Neem and the excitement new discoveries is everywhere.

This wondrous tree earned its place in the scientific communities, the industrial possibilities and in the minds of investors a very long time ago, in medicine because of its antibacterial and anti fungal properties and in cosmetics with its antioxidants and skin regeneration qualities cosmetics and in the agribusiness as pesticides and fertilizers. Now, groundbreaking discoveries and innovative applications confirm the immense value of the neem tree today and into the future.

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