Although you may dread their appearance -- wrinkles, those telltale lines and creases around your eyes and mouth -- are an inevitable part of aging. Skin Care Physicians notes that wrinkles result from decreased collagen production, a process that begins in your mid-20s and causes your skin gradually to become less elastic and more fragile. Some people use herbal remedies made from the neem tree to alleviate wrinkles. Ask your doctor before using neem extracts.
There are two types of aging that cause wrinkles; intrinsic aging -- age-related changes dictated by your genetic makeup -- and extrinsic aging, due to lifestyle and environmental factors. These include habitual facial expressions, sleeping positions, smoking and exposure to the sun, or photoaging, which causes the breakdown of collagen resulting in wrinkles. Fair skin is most at risk. University of Maryland Medical Center states that natural substances and procedures that can help you fight wrinkles include antioxidants and fatty acids, vitamins A, C and E, alpha hydroxy acids and exfoliation.
Neem History and Traditional Uses
According to the Indian Academy of Science, neem is the most useful medicinal plant in India, and has been employed since antiquity to treat leprosy, parasitic infections and respiratory diseases. Neem extracts are also taken as a general tonic to prolong life. All parts of the tree are used medicinally; neem oil is made from the seeds, while juice is obtained from the leaves. Blue Shield Complementary and Alternative Health notes that extracts from the bark are recommended for skin ulcers and infections.
Constituents and Effects
Neem extracts contain limonoid triterpenes, including nimbin, salanin and azadirachtin. Drugs.com, which provides peer-reviewed medical information for consumers, notes that all parts of the tree contain beta-sitosterol, an anti-inflammatory agent. Neem also contains amino acids, beneficial flavonoids and glycosides. The Indian Academy of Science asserts that neem features antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral qualities; it is also a potent antioxidant, helping to scavenge destructive free radicals. BSCAH notes that neem seed oil is rich in fatty acids. The University of Maryland Medical Center says that fatty acids have an emollient effect on skin and help reduce the appearance of fine lines.
There is some scientific evidence supporting the belief that neem extracts protect against wrinkles. In a clinical study conducted by Esther Boelsma and colleagues and published in the May 2001 issue of "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," researchers found that fatty acids, which are found in neem, provided some protection against ultraviolet light, the cause of photoging.
Dosage and Safety Considerations
To use neem to fight wrinkles and promote supple skin, BSCAH recommends applying a cream containing 5 percent neem oil twice a day. Drugs.com points out that topical applications of neem oil for a year resulted in no adverse reactions. You can also partake of neem's benefits by drinking neem juice -- BSCAH reports it is safe to take between 2 and 4 tsp. three times a day. Check with your doctor before using neem for wrinkles.