Neem: The Peoples' Pharmacy
The Neem tree provides excellent lumber for construction and firewood. It's leaves and seeds are used to make animal feed, lubricant, fertilizers, insect repellants, and a variety of non-patent human and veterinary medicines. The dream of this project is to grow Neem tress at every Zapatista school, health center, municipal center, and Caracole throughout Chiapas. This grassroots effort is strengthening autonomous school, health, and ecological agriculture systems while supporting autonomy and confounding multinational corporate dominance in thousands of small indigenous communities of Chiapas. Click here for a general interest article about Neem.
In India, Neem has a 4000 year history and is famous as “The Pharmacy of the People”; the United Nations declared Neem to be the “Tree of the twenty-first century”. Neem has numerous anti-bacterial, antifungal, and anti-viral properties with dozens of human health uses including use in the treatment of malaria, chicken pox, small pox, fever, psoriasis, asthma, parasites, measles, as a contraceptive agent, and many other uses. Neem is extraordinarily effective in promoting dental health and Neem sticks are used daily by millions of Indian children and adults to clean their teeth. Click here for more information about the health uses of Neem.
In the 1990’s multinational pharmaceutical companies mounted a well funded campaign to patent hundreds of medicinal and agricultural products from the Need tree. Massive popular opposition and the 4000 years of documented human use of this plant forced the U.S. Supreme Court and the European Union to cancel these pending patents. Click here to learn about the peoples’ victory against the privatization of Neem.
Over the last several years, Cuba has established a massive Neem industry which produces organic pesticides for internal use and for export. These Neem products are harmless to birds, fish, and mammals but offer protection against over 200 species of insect pests. Corn grows well next to Neem trees which are often planted around the edge of small fields to promote soil fertility and provide much needed shade from the burning tropical sun. Neem is a dry forest plant with minimal water needs and its deep tap root system does not remove surface water from local fields. Click here to learn about the agricultural uses of Neem.