The Safety of Neem Products and
Neem Oil during Pregnancy
I get many questions about the safety of neem during pregnancy or when trying to conceive. The scientific studies and results that I describe on my page about the use of neem oil as a contraceptive have many women concerned.
Yet there is no reason to be worried about using neem oil or neem products externally, and while it makes sense to avoid ingesting neem leaf when trying to conceive, there is no reason to panic if you did eat or drink some unknowingly.
I have addressed this in many reader questions already, but let me spell it out again.
People ask me the same questions all the time (for example how much neem leaf exactly is safe to eat, or how much neem oil exactly is required to prevent pregnancy). I understand that you would like to know the definite answers. So would a lot of other people and researchers and scientists. But we can't answer these questions unless someone does that research, and nobody will do that research unless someone pays for it. And don't hold your breath for that to happen!
The other question that comes up all the time is, "Oh my god I was spraying neem oil in the garden and then I found out I may be pregnant. What will happen now?" or, "I am trying to conceive. Can I use neem shampoo?"
Nothing will happen and yes, you can use neem shampoo. Of course you can. Bear with me, I'll try to explain it again and hopefully this time make it clear enough.
Here is what we know from the neem experiments that have been done so far:
- Any studies that showed an effect of neem on conception used large amounts of concentrated extracts, either ingested regularly over a long time or even injected directly into the uterus.
(Or rather the uterine horn, to be precise, or, in the case of men, the vas deferens. In any way, the researchers had to inject a concentrate right into the crucial spot where it was supposed to work to see a measurable effect.)
With one exception those studies were done on animals. The one small study that was done on male soldiers was not a scientific study, not solidly documented, and apparently it is also misreported. It seems everybody, including me, just keeps repeating the same rumour.
- Yes, taking neem internally, especially larger amounts and regularly, may possibly interfere with conception. We just don't know for sure.
Did you know that St. John's wort, echinacea and ginkgo biloba can also interfere with conception?
Did you know that experts recommend you avoid ALL herbs when trying to conceive and during pregnancy?
Neem is a potent herb. Avoiding it during pregnancy or when trying to conceive makes sense. I certainly recommend you do.
- No, consuming neem will not reliably prevent a pregnancy, just like consuming echinacea will not reliably prevent a pregnancy.
"It may interfere" and "it will reliably prevent" are worlds apart!
- If you accidentally ingested some neem while pregnant or trying to conceive, don't sweat it. Would you panic because you accidentally ingested some ginkgo? Neem leaf has never harmed anyone or any pregnancy. But I still don't recommend you ingest it deliberately, because we just don't know how much it would take to have an effect. (Neem oil should not be ingested anyway, pregnant or not.)
- No, inhaling a microscopic trace of neem oil via your diluted garden spray or ingesting a residue on your organic fruit and vegetables will not harm you. That's just ridiculous. It takes large amounts ingested regularly, or direct injection into the uterus, to see any effect. You would have to swallow mouthfuls of your diluted spray and do so daily over a few weeks to ingest any amounts worth mentioning.
- Yes, external use of neem products is fine. Even if you tried, you couldn't achieve even a fraction of the needed blood concentrations of any active ingredients by using neem soap or lotions or shampoos etc.
And last but not least:
- ANY effects of neem on fertility in you or your animals are totally reversible.
Please keep in mind that neem is a big and important part of Indian culture. Neem soaps and creams, neem toothpaste, neem shampoo, the use of neem oil and neem cake on crops, all those uses are widespread and have been for several thousand years. Last time I checked the population of India was not in danger of becoming extinct...
Do you think that would be the case if use of neem in agriculture or skin care would reduce fertility in any way?
Please do think this through applying some common sense before you send me the same questions again.
Most importantly, please stop worrying. Because the stress is something that very well could interfere with your ability to conceive!
Avoid ingesting neem when pregnant or trying to conceive, but don't panic if you accidentally had some.
Return to Using Neem Oil as a Contraceptive/for Birth Control.
Read about other uses of neem oil.
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