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I discovered many of the curative powers of Neem when I experienced my first “hand burn” in the kitchen as a teenager. My mother plucked a bunch of Neem leaves from the tree in our backyard, hand-ground them using a pestle and stone, and squeezed the juice all over the burn. After the initial sub second flare-up of pain, I started to feel that the incredibly effective burn combatant was having a soothing effect on my skin. Over the days when I fully recovered and the burn all but disappeared, I realized the positive impact of the anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory properties of Neem. There were no skin problems whatsoever.
In 1977 there was a change of guard in the government. During this period, hard-nosed socialists were celebrating the departure of multinationals. To demonstrate anti-imperialistic self-reliance, Indian managers were allowed to dominate businesses and the market. India re-discovered the curative powers of Neem, Tulsi, Turmeric, Saffron, Almonds et al. and much to my delight, Neem started becoming an active ingredient for many products. Having used Neem leaves and chewed on the Neem twig, I welcomed the range of products meant for skincare – to treat acne, blackheads, dull skin, hair care – to treat dry scalp, dandruff and hair loss, blood wellness – to protect the kidneys and liver, digestive wellness – for treating worms, nausea and indigestion, and oral health- to prevent gingivitis, bleeding and inflammation of the gums.
Tulsi (Holy basil) on the other hand was grown in the north-east corner of the house. In my house, the area leading up to this corner was paved so a potted Tulsi plant could be placed there. Tulsi is revered to date and I worship this sacred plant by reciting the tulsimantra for health, happiness and prosperity. Tulsi also contains hundreds of beneficial compounds and possesses strong antioxidant, anti-viral, and immunity enhancing properties. It is a detoxifying agent that purifies and cleanses the skin and helps eliminate scar marks, whitens the skin and ensures a clear, even skin tone.
For continuous long term use, Neem alone will not smell great so when mixed with Tulsi in the right proportions, it delivers a winning formula that is smooth with mild fragrances while retaining the curative powers of both of these plants.
Washing one’s hands with soap and water is a universally accepted behavior for preventing diseases. Yet to my dismay I noticed that the children in my school stayed away from handwashing regularly for the duration of their stay in the school. My investigations revealed the difficulties in holding the big bar of soap and washing simultaneously, it slipped out of the hands, was dropped and got dirty and soiled. Hoping to raise the profile of hygiene and safety, I replaced the bar soap with liquid anti-bacterial soap but nothing changed. This time children stayed away from washing their hands because of skin dryness and irritation caused by large amounts of chemicals hidden in the soap.
From understanding to action
Knowing what changes behaviour, the search therefore began for the right hand wash with the perfect ingredients.
Today, as I replace the hand washing bars and liquids in the schools managed by me with the Get essentials Neem and Tulsi hand wash, teaching healthy handwashing habits to the school children is now a delight. When I see the enthusiasm and the pride they take in coaching their families back home, I know this is a small step that will make a big difference.
As a founding partner of Get Essentials, I intend to put in motion hygiene behaviour changes wherever possible.