Azadirachta indica (commonly known as neem, nimtree and Indian lilac) is a tree in the mahogany family Meliaceae. It is one of two species in the genus Azadirachta, and is native to the Indian subcontinent, i.e. India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Maldives.
It typically is grown in tropical and semi-tropical regions. Neem trees now also grow in islands located in the southern part of Iran. Its fruits and seeds are the source of neem oil.
The neem tree is noted for its drought resistance. Normally it thrives in areas with sub-arid to sub-humid conditions, with an annual rainfall of 400–1,200 millimetres (16–47 in). Neem can grow in many different types of soil, but it thrives best on well drained deep and sandy soils.
What is a Tincture?
A herbal tincture is a concentrated extract of one or more herbs. The liquid in a tincture is a combination of alcohol and water. A tincture must contain at least 20% alcohol for preservation purposes. Alcohol concentrations tend to vary between 20% and 60%, but can be as high as 90% in some circumstances. At Herbal Apothecary we generally produce tinctures with alcohol concentrations of 25% - 45%. We use ethanol derived from sugar beat.
How Is A Tincture Made?
To produce the Azadirachta indica / Neem we combine a quantity of herb with a proportional amount of liquid. Depending on the herb and the strength of tincture required this ratio can be 1:2, 1:3 or 1:4. The herb, alcohol and water is placed in a production vessel suitable for the size of the batch.
Traditionally, tinctures have been made by a process of maceration. This is where the herb sits in the liquid and over a period of time the plant cells break down. This allows the plant matter to be released into the liquid. Occasionally the producer might agitate the mixture to help the process along.
At Herbal Apothecary we have spent decades improving our tincture production processes. We use a system called Hydro-Ethanolic Percolation. Percolation is where liquid slowly passes through the herb, from top to bottom. In our case, the liquid is not simply passed through the herb once and then collected. Instead, it is continually cycled through the herb. Hydro-Ethanolic Percolation is a combination of maceration and traditional percolation. The circulation of liquid through a spray head agitates the herb, helping the key chemical compounds to be released into the liquid.
Our production vessels are primarily stainless steel. We use low voltage (24v) pumps to circulate the liquid. We have also developed a system of float switches and relays. These ensure the pumps only activate when an adequate level of liquid is present in the sump at the bottom of the vessel. It can take some time for the liquid to filter through the herb.
We produce most of our tinctures using dried herbs, although we sometimes use fresh. It's important that the size of the pieces of herb in the production vessel are small enough for the alcohol to thoroughly penetrate. No prior processing is required for flowers and leaves which are smaller and more delicate. However, for roots, bark and berries which tend to be tougher and larger we use herbs which are diced up into small pieces. This ensures that the maximum amount of plant material can be extracted into the liquid.
The manufacturing process takes 7 days to complete. Once the process is finished, the herb is pressed to extract every last drop of precious liquid. The Azadirachta indica / Neem is filtered and then stored in bulk containers, before being bottled in smaller 250ml, 500ml and 1000ml quantities.
Click here if you'd like to know more about our herbal tincture manufacturing technology. At Herbal Apothecary we are committed to research - we want to provide a robust evidence base for the products we produce. As a result we review our manufacturing systems and processes in order to ensure we're making best use of the raw ingredients.
We produce Azadirachta indica / Neem using powdered herb. The powder is very fine, allowing it to flow into the encapsulation machine. Fine powder is also easier for the body to absorb. Sometimes we produce the powder ourselves, from whole or cut herbs. Other times we source powdered herbs directly from our suppliers.
Empty capsules are positioned in the the capsule manufacturing machine. We use vegetarian capsules, size '0'. The empty capsules are then filled with the finely-ground powdered herb. A sufficient quantity of herb is pressed into the empty capsules. Once the capsules are full of powdered herb the tops of the capsules are positioned and firmly pressed into position.
The finished capsules are removed from the machine. Initially we store them in bulk bags. Depending on the type of capsule we may then use our capsule counting machine to dispense capsules into bottles.
Azadirachta indica / Neem are a very convenient way to store and prescribe this herb. Less energy is used in the production process and they take less space to store.
At Herbal Apothecary we produce a wide range of single herb capsules as well as capsules made with blended herbs. The process for producing a blended capsule involves combining 2 or more powders together before encapsulation. Special care is taken to ensure the herbs are thoroughly blended, ensuring an equal distribution of herb through all capsules. Blended herb capsules are a fantastic way of prescribing more complex remedies in a way which is easy for the patient to take.
Powdered herbs like Azadirachta indica / Neem are exactly that. We take high quality whole or cut herbs and process them using our powdering machine. Sometimes we source powdered herbs directly from our suppliers.
Using our powdering machine we can choose the size of the ground herb particle. This means we can produce everything from a course powder, which might be used in a herbal tea or infusion, to a very fine powder.
Powdered herbs like Azadirachta indica / Neem might be used by herbalists in the production of herbal capsules. Powdered herbs are also sometimes used in tincture or fluid extract production.
Cut herbs are herbs which have been harvested and then cut into smaller pieces, suitable for further processing. Cut herbs like Azadirachta indica / Neem can be used to produce tinctures or fluid extracts. They can also be used in herbal teas and infusions.