Neem Oil – The All-Purpose Sacred Herb

Neem Oil – The All-Purpose Sacred Herb

Did you know the neem tree is one of the most versatile and productive forms of plant life? It is one of the sacred, ancient herbs of Ayurveda, and native to India, Nepal, Pakistan and other countries of the Indian subcontinent. Every part of it has different uses: roots, seeds, leaves, bark, flowers and fruit all have various medicinal and cosmetic benefits. Neem oil, which comes from the seeds, is quite thick and has a strong, woodsy, bitter scent. It also happens to be a fantastic, non-toxic insecticide that can be used outside in the garden and inside the home.

Whether it’s because of Vancouver’s warmer winters (climate change, anyone?) or just because silverfish love the cold, damp conditions of an older house, we have had a tough time dealing with their increasing numbers in recent years. The fact is they are worse than cockroaches in their longevity and resilience: it’s incredibly hard to get rid of them. They can last a year without munching on your books and papers!

Neem oil has a compound, azadirachtin, as well as other chemicals that seem to disrupt the hormonal pathways in munching and chewing insects, sparing the good bugs. It’s effective on dust mites, bed bugs, ants, termites, aphids, caterpillars, and roaches. And yes, it is effective for head lice, but that’s for another post.

Pour a few drops of neem oil on a cotton pad, and wipe where these nasty things frequent; in the case of silverfish, for example, focus especially on the area between floor and baseboard, where they love to hide from view.

Also apply around plumbing fixtures, cleanouts, and window sills – wherever you see them. Reapply every 10 days or so. It is really very effective, and we hardly ever see one anymore.

You can also wash wood and tile floors with a couple of teaspoons of both neem and turmeric powders in a litre or so of water. I learnt about this common Indian practice, which also controls insects, while researching Ayurvedic uses for neem, and now regularly wash our floors this way. I use warm water to get the powders to dissolve more easily. The water is green, but doesn’t discolour the floors. If you have any doubts, test an area hidden from general view first.

Stay tuned for more tips on how to use Neem!

Let me know if you have any questions, either in the comments below or message me at

Making Essential Oil Body Mists

Making Essential Oil Body Mists

If you’re feeling the heat on your skin, from too much sun or a super hard workout, and you really want to cool down and refresh yourself, try spritzing yourself with an essential oil body mist. They are easy to make, and you can play with all sorts of blends to suit any need.

You will need a 120 ml (4 oz) dark glass bottle with a fine spray nozzle – these can be purchased at health food stores or natural pharmacies. Avoid re-using bottles that previously contained toxic liquids or chemicals of any kind. Fill 3/4 of the bottle with distilled water; then add about 10-15 drops of essential oils. If you’d prefer the scent to last longer, mix equal parts distilled water and witch hazel (or inexpensive vodka) with the same amount of essential oils. Witch hazel is lighter than vodka, but both serve to help disperse the essential oils and fix the scent. Give your spray a good shake before spritzing.

Body mists are extremely versatile, and you can tailor make them for every mood or purpose. For example, for a pick-me-up and to cool down, try peppermint essential oil. Peppermint is very stimulating- in fact, it has been proven to enhance sports performance – but its scent is also relaxing. If you are a light sleeper, you might want to avoid peppermint at night if you find it too invigorating when you want to sleep.

For a relaxing freshener, try lavender – which is also perfect before bed to calm down and ease into sleep. Avoid using lavender in early pregnancy.

For a super cooling and sweat relieving (including PMS and hot flashes) spray, try clary sage, which is both relaxing and euphoric. Avoid in pregnancy, and before or after drinking alcohol.

Or mix and match the essential oils to your liking! Remember not to spritz the eyes, or face if you have sensitive skin.

Always bear in mind that essential oils are highly concentrated and powerful plant compounds, and should not be taken internally.

These sprays are very versatile and can also be used as a room freshener or linen/clothes spray. If you’re using them with fabric, spray the underside to avoid any potential staining. Have fun with them and tell me how they worked out!