Hi, my name is Birgit and I'm the owner and editor of the Discover Neem website.
I'm originally from Germany, where I studied biochemistry and immunology at the University of Tübingen and the Freie Universität Berlin, obtaining a master's degree.
I decided against doing a PhD.
(If you wonder why, have a look at this page explaining beautifully what a PhD is. The last two pictures on the page offer the key to my decision.)
I worked in different research institutions and laboratories for over 10 years, among them the prestigious Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, both in Munich/Martinsried, and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin-Buch.
Then a holiday took me to Australia and I fell in love with its wild, tropical north west. I stayed and settled in a town called Kununura in the the Ord Valley in northern Western Australia, not far from Darwin.
The Ord Valley is a major agricultural region and tropical fruit bowl.
Over the next 18 years I added to my existing knowledge, but now it was all about growing food: soils, nutrients, bugs, plant diseases, and everything else that comes with farming.
I first discovered neem because our Department of Agriculture introduced neem trees into our area. It established a trial plantation here to evaluate neem's potential as a commercial crop for our farmers.
The neem trees grew well. Incredibly well. And fast. And then they set seed. And then the birds discovered them. And loved them. And started spreading them...
So I first discovered neem as one of the worst environmental weeds we'd ever encountered. I spent whole weekends out in the bush killing feral neem trees. All I knew about neem trees then was that they are supposed to repel bugs.
Only during later years did I learn more about what neem can do. And the more I read and dug around, the more fascinated I became. I soon ordered my first container of crude oil, which smelled worse than I had anticipated and was more effective than I had imagined.
I had five acres of land, two of them tropical permaculture gardens, growing just about every vegetable, fruit, herb and spice you can think of. Organic, of course! Thanks to neem oil I rarely had to battle any bugs or diseases.
(With one exception: In the early days I did rescue one avocado tree from termites chemically. There are limits to what neem can do! I make that very clear within my website.)
My chickens benefitted from neem as well. They used to get all kinds of mites and scaly leg and other stuff. Chickens were a challenge to keep parasite free in that climate, I tell you... Or rather, they used to be. Once the cage and the roost got sprayed whenever the garden did, and the chickens themselves got a squirt as well, things were mostly fine.
Also living with me was Max, the dog.
(Max was a girl. I liked the name but didn't want a male dog. And she didn't care what I called her, as long as I fed her.)
Max was of course flea and mostly tick free, thanks to regular washes and sprays with neem. Before I discovered neem I had had to put Frontline (fipronil + (S)-methoprene) on her every wet season. It was something I hated doing, but if the choice is Frontline or paralysis ticks, what's a girl supposed to do?
I prefer to avoid synthetic chemicals, but not to the point where I risk my or an animal's health. I believe conventional medicine certainly has its place in our lives!
Sometimes the ticks got so bad that neem wouldn't keep all of them away. As I wrote above, there are limits to what it can do. But Max never got covered in them any more like she used to and I didn't mind checking her regularly and pulling off a tick every now and then.
As to myself, well, after all the reading I had done I had thought I would just mix my own lotions and potions by adding the raw oil to whatever I was using. After all it's the most effective and most economic way to use it.
I VERY quickly changed my mind when I received the neem oil. I have a really sensitive nose...
I love the scent of natural essential oils. Rose absolute, ylang ylang, mmmmm. I've always used totally natural products for personal care and thank god there are beautiful smelling neem soaps and lotions out there... I think I'll stick to those, thank you!
I made this website because I realized how little the rest of the world still knows about neem. I saw first hand how difficult it is to find information about it.
I don't mind digging through scientific papers, in fact, it's something of a hobby, but which normal person would want to do that? Or even understand what they are on about?
I wanted to make this information available in a form that's easier to digest, a form that anyone can understand and make sense of. I'd like to see knowledge about neem spread. I think neem can make a big difference in people's lives. People who'd like to avoid harsh chemicals, sprays, harmful cosmetics and similar health hazards should know about this!
And I also want to make sure that nobody gets suckered into believing the many "miracle" plant claims that have flooded the internet over the years.
Let me repeat it once more: There are limits to what neem can do and there are still plenty of situations where you are better off seeing your doctor!
I hope you find the site useful.
Enjoy And Discover Neem!
PS.: Any errors you find on the site, any improvements you can think of, any feedback on it: don't hesitate to contact me.