Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Going Green with Neem Leaves (Vepa Aaku)

Homemade Neem-Clove Tooth Powder

Dried Neem Leaves ~ For This Week’s Indian Kitchen

We worship the neem tree! For us Bharatiya, the neem tree is a sacred tree, standing along the magnificient Maamidi (Mango) and the bodhi vrukshamPeepal (Raavi). The beautiful evergreen neem tree with its numerous medicinal benefits is a precious gift from Mother Earth. Every part of the tree is utilized in some way in India. In home-based medicines and in religious ceremonies, neem plays an essential role, the protector against disease and evil eye. In the kitchen, delicate neem flowers and tender neem leaves are used in preparing the broth-like healing potions. The bark, branches and dried leaves of the neem tree are used to prepare medicinal powders in our homes.

Since olden times, dental health is one of the well-known beneficial effects of neem. I have always desired to go back to the way my grandparents used to brush their teeth with homemade powders. Dried neem, tulasi leaves, cloves, little bit of rock salt and rice bran are ground together and stored in jars, to use as tooth-powder. Rice husk ash was also added to this mixture. Dental care routine in the days of yore went as follows – about half a teaspoon of the powder is placed in the palm of one’s hand and a small pencil-sized neem twig serves as the toothbrush. We had to dip the edge of the twig in this powder and brush the teeth. The taste of the toothpowder combined with neem twig packed quite a kick, which was sort of overwhelming to my young palate at that time. But we didn’t have a choice, because the commercial white toothpaste was considered poison in those days in villages. And people like my grandparents, who were well-versed in Western culture, consciously avoided using “foren” sounding, tasting chemical-laden white toothpaste. They had sparkling, healthy teeth and warm smiles.

I wanted to resuscitate that old tradition from memories. I purchased neem powder and tulasi powder from Indian stores. Ground few cloves to fine powder. I put together a fantastic-smelling tooth powder. Here is the result.

Homemade Neem-Clove Tooth Powder


4 tablespoons – neem powder
2 tablespoons – cloves powder
1 tablespoon – tulasi powder
¼ teaspoon – rock salt
1 tablespoon – rice bran or of bran of any grain – (added to provide friction to dislodge the food particles while brushing.)

Take all of the above in a small bowl. Mix thoroughly and have a taste. Adjust cloves, salt and bran to your liking. Mix and store in a clean jar.
To use – place about half teaspoon of powder in the palm of your hand. Moisten tooth brush and dip the bristles in powder and apply to the teeth. Do like you normally brush. No foam while brushing and no artificial sweetener like after-taste. This homemade tooth powder provides a refreshing clean feel and an enticing potent after-taste that mature palates prefer.

We all know that mothers love children who take proper dental care. What’s better way to celebrate mother earth on Earth day than remembering the old wisdom and bringing those sparkling memories back? This recipe is my way of celebrating the ancient wisdom and the inspiration for it – the Mother Earth.

All about Neem Tree
Neem: India’s Miraculous Healing Plant (book)
Sacred trees of India

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Indian Ingredients,Indian Kitchen,Neem (Vepa) (Sunday April 22, 2007 at 7:19 pm- permalink)
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