The problem of population explosion in India is alarming. India will cross the billion mark by the year 2000 AD and it will have the dubious distinction of the most populated country in the world.
Use of contraceptive both vaginal and oral is the most important method of population control among many other means that are available. There is a need for development of new contraceptives as the ones that are presently available have undesirable side effects.
Neem has been used traditionally as a medicine for various aliments. It has been reported to possess wound healing, antiviral, antiarthritic, anti-hyper glycemic and anti-inflammatory properties and also help in curing skin diseases. The reported anti-flagellate action of neem oil and mild spermicidal activity of sodium nimbinate and sodium nimbidinate is the main factors behind the work on the spermicidal and anti-fertility activity of neem oil.
Pressure extracted neem oil was found to have in-vitro spermicidal activity against rat, monkey and human sperms. On intravaginal application before coitus, neem oil was found to prevent pregnancy in rats, rabbits, monkey and human beings. When neem oil was applied intravaginally after coitus, it was found to prevent implantation and cause abortion in rats. All these effects were systemic and dose dependent. The application of neem oil did not alter the hormonal profile.
In short neem oil was found to be a promising (a) pre-coital vaginal contraceptive and (b) a post-coital contraceptive preventing implantation and also (c) an abortifacient agent. All these effects are reversible. Only one ml of oil is to be applied for these effects every time and the cost is negligible as one litre of neem oil can be used for 30 cycles by a woman if it is daily used as a pre-coital vaginal contraceptive. It is purely of herbal origin available in plenty and indigenous. The smell can be marked by adding lemon grass scent can be used with the help of an applicator.
Application of neem oil once daily for 10 days in rabbits did not cause any vaginal irritation. When it was applied once daily in rats for eight weeks there was no toxic effect.
Further, studies were carried out in the direction of isolation of the active component(s) responsible for spermicidal, anti-implantation and abortifacient activities of neem oil so that a standard products(s) which can be synthesised could be identified. Neem oil is subjected to steam distillation and the volatile fraction was isolated and coded as NIM-76. This volatile fraction was found to be a mixture of 28 components containing sulphur containing compounds and esters of fatty acids on GC-MS analysis. This fraction was found to retain the spermicidal activity in-vitro and on pre-coital application in the form of a jelly in rabbits and monkeys prevented pregnancy by its in vivo spermicidal activity. This product (NIM-76) impregnated in a suitable cream base is being taken up for multicentric clinical trials. The volatile fraction of NIM-76 was further fractionated and one of the fractions coded as DK-1, which is a single compound, was found to retain the in-vitro spermicidal activity. On in-vivo pre-coital application in rabbits and monkeys, DK-1 has been found to prevent pregnancy. Another fraction from neem oil isolated by solvent extraction and called bitter contains furano-tetranor terpenoids such as azadirachtin, nimbin, nimbidin, salannin, etc. This fraction on post-coital oral administration was found to prevent implantation or cause abortion in rats and rabbits depending upon the time of administration. This biter has further been fractionated in to 10 fractions out of which one fraction coded as DNM-5 has been found to possess anti-implantation activity and another fraction coded as DNM-7 has abortifacient activity in rats.
Studies on rabbits and monkeys with compound DNM-5 and DNM-7 are progressing. Toxicity studies of whole neem oil has already been done on animals and found to be non-toxic in the doses administered.
As a result of the above studies two contraceptives namely (a) pre-coital vaginal contraceptive and (b) a post-coital (postovulatory) oral contraceptive have been developed form neem oil. In addition an abortifacient agent also has been identified.
- These are natural products of herbal origin.
- Neem has been traditionally used for ages for various ailments and hence the rural population will accept it easily.
- Neem is indigenous.
- Neem is available in plenty.
- These do not possess any hormonal properties.
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- Low capital investment
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- Maximum use of local raw materials
- Maximum use of local manpower resources
- Adaptable levels of sophistication
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