Reetha (Soap nut)

Botanical name : Sapindus laurifolius or Sapindus trifoliatus or Spindaceae
Common names: Reetha, Puchikottai, Munippungu, Urulinji, Kumkuticettu, Uruvanci, Phenila, Antolakaayi, Chavakkai

The soap nut is a large deciduous tree with fleshy fruit like a berry which yields a soap. Unlike the soaps produced by pharmaceutical companies, the substance taken from this fruit does not have a high acid content.The Indian soapnuts are natural washing agent, it is a 100% ecological alternative to polluting chemical washings.Soapnuts are fruits of a tree growing in India called Sapindus Mukorossi (soap tree).The soapnuts are not used by themselves, but rather the shell which contains a highly precious substance called saponine, that holds exceptional washing properties.

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The seeds of the soap-nut tree yield a thick viscous oil which can cause acute nausea and acrid poisoning. The oil is used with extreme caution by Ayurvedic physicians in drugs made for patients suffering from severe cases of chronic diarrhea or cholera. Ayurveda also uses pessaries made from the fruit to induce childbirth, both the purposes of abortion and for cases of difficult delivery, while other concoctions are made into nose drops and administered through the nostrils to relieve attacks of hysteria, epilepsy, and Hemicrania.

Reetha powder is prepared from dried fruit of Reetha. It can be used as a face pack to improve facial complexion. It is used as a hair application to make hair shiny and their beautification. It also removes dandruff and lice in hair.

How to use it:
Use 1 part reetha powder and 6 parts water , soak it for two hours then stain and use it. Use it on hairs to kill the lices. The main use of Reetha powder is in Herbal shampoo industry.

Parts used:
Soapnut shells
Soapnut shells powder
Contents: Tannic acid, Vitamin C.

Properties and Action According to Indigenous Medical Systems:

Rasa: Spicy.
Vipaka: Spice.
Veerya: Ushna veerya.

These seeds are rich in saponins.
It is an antibacterial cleanser. Exfoliant.
It has expectorant and emetic properties.
It is used as cleansing agent for hair, skin and laundry.
It clears skin problems like eczema, psoriasis, itchy skin.
It also protects sensitive skin.

Names due to Physical properties:
Krishnabeeja: Black seeds.
Phenila: Creats foam.

Names due to Medical properties:
It prevents hair loss, controls dandruff.
It balances salivation, epilepsy and chlorosis.
Good remedy for dental caries.
It is good cleaning agent for oily skin.

Excellent hair tonic :
These dark-brown pods are highly beneficial for the hair. Reetha completes the family of shikakai and trifla. Equal proportions of all three, can be soaked in water and then used to clean hair. Reetha is rich in iron, phosphorous and Vitamin A. Soak reetha overnight and then make a paste from the soak pods. Apply this paste on the hair and leave for an hour. Wash off with a good shampoo or even rinse with plain water. This lends the hair a rich, dark colour. It improves blood circulation in the scalp and treats dandruff.

For Dandruff: Mix soap nut with water and apply once a week.
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One thought on “Reetha (Soap nut)

  1. Dariel Garner

    Thank you for sharing your insight into one of nature’s greatest gifts. I have used Maggie’s Soap Nuts, an American brand of Retha, in my laundry and on my skin and am delighted that my psoriasis is completely gone. Ancient, organic ways are best.


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