Is neem oil safe to use whilst breastfeeding?
There is insufficient evidence to say either way, but anecdotal evidence suggests that small amounts of neem oil applied topically pose no threat to the child. Quantities larger than small doses, or contaminated neem oil, potentially poses a bigger threat to the child, so always consult your doctor before use.
Do not use on nipples or anywhere that might lead to your baby accidentally ingesting it.
Can neem oil be used for cradle cap?
Cradle cap is a skin condition, mainly affecting the head and face, that is common in babies. It clears within 1 year, although there are methods in which it can be easier for a child to live with it.
Neem oil can be used on babies suffering from cradle cap, but it is important to remember that neem oil is very potent. Therefore, it should be diluted in a carrier oil, such as coconut, olive, or almond oil. A few drops per 30ml of carrier oil is a sufficient ratio.
Rub a small amount onto your baby’s head, and leave for 20 minutes, before washing off with a baby-friendly shampoo. You can repeat this process once per week if cradle cap persists, but if irritation occurs, discontinue use immediately.
Can neem oil be used as a contraceptive?
There is some evidence to suggest that neem oil is effective in preventing pregnancies. Most of the evidence comes from small studies or anecdotal evidence and it is not thoroughly tested.
However, neem oil has been found to be an effective spermicide. One lab study showed that neem oil totally immobilised sperm within 20-30 seconds of contact.
Another showed that a cotton swab soaked in neem oil and placed in the vagina for 15 minutes prior to intercourse was able to kill sperm. It is also an effective lubricant.
A study on a small group of male married members of the Indian Army were asked to take a neem oil capsule orally every day for a year. Within six weeks the neem oil was effective at preventing pregnancies and the participants remained infertile for the duration of the experiment.