‘Neem, like Vitamin C, may decrease intestinal damage in cases of ischemia’

It is common to hear people say they take Vitamin C tablets to improve recovery from some conditions associated with lowered body immunity. Now, evidence also suggests that neem extract may be helpful in the prevention of intestinal ischemia and reperfusion associated organ damage.

Dr Temidayo Omobowale spoke on cardioprotective benefits of need and other plants at the Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Ibadan.

He said that in a study, which was carried out in animal models, suggested that some chemical content of neem leaves could significantly reduce damage caused by intestinal ischemia.

This condition, which occurs in humans due to narrowing or blockage of blood vessels that supply the digestive system can result in restricted blood supply to the organs.

The condition does not only cause damage in its own right but the resulting reperfusion injury which takes place when blood supply is returned to the organ can also cause cells in important organs of the body such as the heart and kidney to die.

In laboratory conditions, he stated that mice were used to test the effectiveness of neem extract in preventing the aftermath of intestinal ischemia/reperfusion on the heart and kidney.

Groups of mice pretreatment with two different doses of neem were subjected to surgically induce intestinal ischemia. Some mice also pretreated with Vitamin C, a standard antioxidant, were also used as control.

The study, he said, found that mice pretreated with neem extracts had lower levels of intestinal injury and oxidative stress, a marker of inflammation than those who did not receive the treatment.

In addition, the levels of intestinal injury and inflammation recorded in both the neem group and Vitamin C were similar and suggested that both may play a part in preventing secondary organ injury caused by the condition.

According to Dr Omobowale, “in mice pretreated with neem extracts, markers of oxidative stress were brought low, just as in mice without intestinal ischemia. This goes on to underscore the potency of neem in mitigating oxidative stress as a result of ischemic reperfusion injury.”

“So, administration of an antioxidant like neem at these dosages given can help mitigate the side effects which always follow the correction of ischemic reperfusion injury, and more or less improves the outcome of the surgery.

“Therefore, neem can be a useful chemotherapeutic agent in the prevention and treatment of conditions induced by intestinal ischemia-reperfusion injury.”

Dr Omobowale said neem extracts were also found to be protective against the effect of heavy metal pollutants like lead.

He, however, added that other studies at the department of veterinary had proved that pure honey is also helpful in improving healing processes of surgery that involves a cut in the intestine.

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