Sapindus is a genus of about five to twelve species of shrubs and small trees in the lychee family, Sapindaceae, native to warm temperate to tropical regions of the world. The genus includes both deciduous and evergreen species. Members of the genus are commonly known as soapberries or soap nuts because the fruit pulp is used to make soap. The generic name is derived from the Latin words Sapo, meaning "soap", and indicus, meaning "of India".
Nature often has the best solutions for most of our problems and goals. It provides some of the most effective treatments for the body and also prevents us from harming other organisms. One such offering from nature is Soap nut or Reetha. They have been used ad surfactants for ages. The normal detergents are basically harmful and will damage the fabric while soap nuts are natural detergents, which are very mild and do not damage the fabric of clothes.
Also, it is not only used for washing clothes, it can also be used for cleaning dishes, as liquid soap or even as a shampoo.,
Soap nuts are allergy-free and good for all types of skin, especially for babies, eczema and sensitive skin types. It is both economical and ecological when compared to other detergents. It is strictly free from major harmful chemicals like Sulfates, Parabens, Bleach, Chlorine, Phthalates, Phosphates, Formaldehydes, and Petrochemicals.
The soap nuts tree usually grows in North India. Their fruits and seeds are slightly bigger than the ones that grow in South India. The shells are golden in colour when it is harvested and later become brown once it is dried.
Chemical properties of soap nut:
If we look into the main ingredient of soap nut which does the cleaning process, it is saponin which is a natural and effective surfactant. A surfactant is usually a substance which reduces the surface tension of liquids and allows the easy flow of liquid and release of dirt, oils and grime.
Benefits of soap nuts
Soap nuts have more benefits which are surprising. They are,
Environment friendly does not pollute the environment and is renewable.
- Sustainable Affordable
- Do not waste resources
- Simple to use
- Effective and gentle
- Free of harmful chemicals
It is claimed that their fruits are credited with expectorant and emetic properties and when prepared by an ayurvedic doctor can treat epilepsy, chlorosis and excessive salvation. It is also used as a sedative for the uterus and is used to ease childbirth. It can also be prepared as a digestive aid, an anti-venom or to treat diarrhoea, cholera and paralysis. It is rich in iron and considered a hemolytic and is often used to treat anaemia.
Storage of soap nuts
The storage of soap nuts should be done carefully. It absorbs moisture easily and they become dark and sticky in a very short period of time if left exposed to air. So the nuts should be packed in an airtight container.
Soap nut benefits for hair
Soap nuts are used in ayurvedic practices as an ingredient in shampoo and cleansers. They are used in scalp treatments and are used to treat head lice, dandruff and hair loss.
- Natural cleanser: The soapy texture of the Soap nut helps your hair to have a clean wash along with absorbing the enrichment. Over regular use, your hair gets smoother and achieves a long-lasting shine. It imparts Vitamin A, D, E and K to the hair roots, thereby nourishing the scalp and the hair follicles.
- Anti-microbial and insecticide properties: If you have trouble with lice, Reetha is the one solution. With its insecticide properties, it can easily kill the lice without damaging the scalp. Reetha is trusted to cure and prevent bacterial infections and dandruff.
- Smoothing effect: It gives a soft and smooth texture to the hair strands and helps tame dry and frizzy hair. It acts as a natural shampoo cum conditioner. It helps easily detangle hair thereby making your hair ready for any hairstyle.
Soap nut for skin
For skincare, they are used traditionally to treat mild and moderate skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis. As ayurvedic treatments are used to eliminate fine lines and freckles and heal cracked skin and remove chemical stains.
Soap nuts are good for our skin. They are hypoallergenic. And they are naturally antibacterial and antifungal. So washing your skin regularly with soap nuts can help to prevent skin diseases.
- Natural moisturizer: Keeps the skin hydrated and prevents dryness. Highly recommended for sensitive skin as it is mild on the skin. Improves skin tone and results in glowing skin. Useful in skin care against psoriasis, blackheads, and pimples.
- Useful for baby's skin: Since it is mild on the skin and hair, Reetha powder can be used to bathe babies. The liquid solution can help in diaper rashes.
Other benefits of soap nut
- Soap nut for cleaning and antiseptic use: Soap nut has high antimicrobial properties. Therefore it is used as a natural hand wash especially due to its soapy texture. Due to its detoxification properties, Reetha is also used in cleaning fruits and vegetables from chemicals and pesticides. Powdered Reetha mixed well with an alum can make superior toothpaste with good cleansing properties.
- Health benefits of reetha: It is a common ingredient in Ayurvedic treatments for asthma, hysteria, and epilepsy. Soap nut is also known to inhibit the growth of tumours, which thereby keeps you away from the risk of cancer. Soap nut uses its anti-inflammatory properties to help in case of joint pains and oedema. It increases your immune system, by preventing the growth of pathogens in the intestines and also keeps a check on cholesterol levels. It is said to be helpful for controlling diabetic conditions as well.
- Soap nut as a cleaner: It is the best natural cleanser for all kinds of clothes, stains and even glass surfaces. It is highly effective against soiled clothes, with its herbal antibacterial benefits. Earlier days, Soap nut was widely used in septic tanks to prevent bacterial activity. It is useful for cleaning utensils and highly efficient against oil stains. Soap Nut finds its use in popular floor cleaning brands and is also effective for getting rid of the bad odour of carpets, mats and curtains. It can be used as a pesticide for plants in your garden too.
Soap nuts are also been researched and there are many medical findings discovered. Clinical trials are being conducted on the use of neem, quinine hydrochloride and soap nuts extract as a spermicide replacing the use of Nonoxynal-9. Tests of its effectiveness showed that it compared favourably with chemical-based foams and gels. It was safer to use and 100% effective.
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