CHENNAI: You must have heard about the age-old Indian practice of using neem sticks to brush teeth much before toothbrushes came into the market for maintaining oral hygiene. Now, a study by a city college has said that usage of neem sticks will reduce the oral bacteria count in type-2 diabetes mellitus patients and thus, reduce the risk of inflammation in the body.
A study conducted by the Department of Microbiology and Department of Endocrinology, Sri Ramanchandra Medical College and Research Institute, which was published in the Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice journal recently, says that the neem stick acts as an effective anti-bacterial agent. The researchers measured monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), a pro-inflammatory substance in the blood used as a marker to determine the level of inflammation in the body in type-2 diabetes mellitus in blood samples and also by measuring oral bacteria.
Eight patients with T2DM who were attending a tertiary care centre in Chennai and also 10 non-diabetic healthy persons were selected for the study. Blood and saliva samples were collected from the type-2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) patients to analyse MCP-1 levels and oral bacteria before and after a month of neem stick usage. Among the non-diabetic, saliva samples were collected.
The T2DM patients were asked to chew corners of the neem which would work like the bristles of brush. The chewing procedure was asked to be followed for 10 minutes. The patients were provided with the same variety of neem stick from the same tree for one month.
The blood and saliva samples from T2DM patients were tested by next-generation sequencing method, a new testing technique, which helps identify many bacteria at the same time. It was found that the bacterial count in the saliva of T2DM patients reduced post-neem. For example, streptococcus bacteria reduced from 1,22,533 to 23,452 followed by venillonella from 52,024 to 2,804, haemophilus from 41,718 to 433. Certain group bacteria which were not found in pre-neem samples were found in post-neem samples but in less numbers.
The counts of healthy controls were compared with the counts obtained from T2DM post-neem and they were found to be similar. Also,the average value of MCP-1 level before the use of neem stick was 265.81 and after use was 33.6.
What the doctor ordered
Dr Padma Srikanth, one of the authors of the study, said that neem has antibacterial activity against oral bacteria. Also, a broader one-year study should be done to check if neem stick usage will also prevent complications of diabetes, she added