Posts Tagged ‘ Health ’

Manjishtha (Rubia Cordifolia)

Manjishtha for charm & stimulus

Commonly called majeeth but scientifically known as Rubia cordifolia, manjishtha is one of the foremost curative herbs used by ancient ayurvedic physicians. Its big climber plant is found up to the height of 8,000 feet in the hilly areas of the Indian subcontinent. The root of manjishtha is used as medicine.

Varnya (improving the complexion), rakta prasadaka (a booster of the haemopoietic system), rakta shodhaka (a blood purifier) and vishaghna (a detoxifier):that is how manjishtha has been described in revered ayurvedic texts. It is also an astringent antiseptic, a carminative, a digestive and an haemostatic agent. Some acharyas, while attributing anti-inflammatory and uterine stimulant properties to manjishtha, have written that it is a bitter tonic also.

Though manjishtha is at the same time bitter, astringent and sweet in taste and heavy, dry and hot in effect, it is a pacifier of kapha and pitta. Besides the glucosides known as manjisthin and purpurine, its chemical composition consists of various other components which include resins, lime salts and colouring agents. Manjishtha is used in a number of diseases. It is a drug of choice for treating various systemic problems like raised uric acid and gouty arthritis, glandular swellings, recurrent skin infections and other diseases of the skin like pigmentation anomalies and leucoderma. It is also included in various formulations to treat uterine and urinary infections, diarrhoea, dysentery and chronic fevers. Manjishtha holds the reputation of a very good skincare herb. Used externally and internally, it helps one to gain lustre and glow (of the skin) and aids to remove pimples, freckles and discoloration.

Manjishtha promotes the healing of skin tissues damaged by injury or infection. Its finely crushed powder can be simply applied on the face after mixing it with little honey. A combination of dried and crushed orange peels 100 gm, and sandal powder, turmeric and manjishtha powders each 50 gm, makes an excellent face pack.

Since manjishtha has a marked effect on the female reproductive organs, it is useful treating various gynaecological problems, like white discharge and irregular menstruation. To treat stubborn pelvic inflammation taking two or three times a day 2 gm of the powder of manjishtha, ashoka, daru haridra, nagkeshar and lodhra, all crushed in equal parts, have very good results. A decoction of manjishtha, giloy and gokharu can be given in chronic urinary infections occurring in both males and females.

Brihad Manjishthadi Qwath, mentioned in the Sharangdhar Samhita, is the most famous classic ayurvedic formulation which contains manjishtha as its chief ingredient. Though bitter in taste, it is a highly acclaimed medicine. It is indicated in a number of simple and complex problems like pimples, boils urticaria, eczema and psoriasis. The qwath is given as a vehicle with various other medicines to treat obesity, high cholesterol, gouty arthritis and benign enlargements.

Manjishtha is successfully used as a natural dye. It imparts a light reddish tinge to the skin and is included in many cosmetic formulations. The daily dose of manjishtha powder and its decoction is 2 gm and 50 ml respectively, two or three times a day. To avoid possible adulteration, while purchasing herbs, one should get them identified by an expert.

Nagarmotha (Cyperus Rotundus)

Nagarmotha: A detoxifying herb

Ayurvedic texts, while discussing the pathogenesis of disease, have repeatedly mentioned the word “ama” which, if briefly explained, can be called the toxic material produced in the body as a result of faulty digestion. The concept of “ama”, if properly explained to the experts of modern medicine and other health scientists, can really help in making a breakthrough in the treatment of many autoimmune disorders and other serious diseases. Nagarmotha is the herb which has been described in Ayurveda as the best ama-pachaka or corrective and remover of endo-toxins.

This ordinary-looking herb grows wild along water courses or wet places inmost parts of India. Known as mustaka in Sanskrit and Cyperus rotundus scientifically, it has been described as bitter, pungent and astringent in taste and light dry and cold in effect. Nagarmotha is a pacifier of kapha and pitta. Its different varieties possess an aromatic oil, besides protein, starch and carbohydrates.

Nagarmotha has very good digestive and carminative properties. It is an effective killer of intestinal worms, a diuretic and anti-pyretic medicine. Many ancient texts have also described it as an anti-inflammatory medicine, a general and nervine tonic, a promoter of uterine contractions and an excellent binder of stool.

Even in ancient times, nagarmotha was a favourite of ayurvedic physicians for treating a number of diseases. It is a drug of choice now for treating the majority of gastrointestinal problems like anorexia, vomiting, diarrhoea, dysentery and specific and non-specific colitis. Nagarmotha is also used in various other ailments like fever, burning micturation, skin diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, painful menstruation, neurasthenia and general debility. Here area few tips with regard to nagarmotha as a household remedy:

Nagarmotha, sonth and the dried pulp of the bael fruit, all crushed in equal parts, and two grams of this powder, if taken two or three times a day, works well in case of chronic mucous diarrhoea. Similarly, taking twice a day two grams each of the powder of nagarmotha and the pulp of bael and two tablets of the famous Kutajghan Vati has been reported to have reduced the frequency of stool besides controlling abdominal cramps in cases of ulcerative colitis. The same combination can be given with rice water to control the coming of blood in the stool.

The decoction of nagarmotha and pitapara is the most common household remedy for excessive thirst arising in fever and an episode of gastroentritis. During the flare-up phase of rheumatoid arthritis one gram each of the powders of nagarmotha, hararh and sonth can be given with any other anti-arthritic medicines. Acting as a detoxifying medicine, it help reduce inflammation and stiffness in the joints.

In the treatment of alcoholism (madatya roga) ayurvedic texts prescribe that the patient should be regularly given a decoction of nagarmotha. In case of alcoholic liver disease various preparations containing nagarmotha are prescribed. The regular use of it also helps lower the raised levels of serum uric acid.

Mustakadi kwatha, Mustkarishta and Mustadi Churna are the prestigious classic ayurvedic medicines which containing nagarmotha as their chief ingredient. The average dose of the powder of nagarmotha is three to five grams twice or thrice a day and that of its decoction 50 to 100 ml daily.

Pudina (Mentha) (Mint)

Pudina: the versatile healer

Can you guess which plant is an integral part of most of our everyday personal care products? Before you hurry to find an answer, just have a thought of some of these items — toothpaste, shaving cream, post-shaving lotion, mouth-wash and fresheners, cough syrups and green digestive capsules, etc. Most of these products, of any brand, have menthol as one of the ingredients. The answer may leave all of us a bit astonished as menthol is the active substance of pudina, the herb we have been using in our kitchen for centuries.

The ancient ayurvedic literature calls it “putiha”. There are more than 20 of its varieties, some original and others hybrid. The garden mint or the spear mint is the most commonly available specie of pudina. It has been described as pungent in taste and hot, sharp, dry and light in effect. Pudina is mainly a pacifier of “kapha” and “vata”. Widely acclaimed as carminative, digestive, aromatic and an anti-emetic agent (that allays nausea and vomiting), pudina is valued as a stimulant, expectorant, anti-spasmodic killer of intestinal worms and a mildly analgesic herb.

Fresh pudina leaves, on chemical analysis, are found to have moisture, protein, carbohydrates and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron and a volatile oil. Different varieties of pudina contain different active substances. Menthol and peppermint which give a tingling cool sensation are its popular derivatives which are extensively used in the modern pharmaceutical industry. Pudina is famous for its use in digestive upsets like nausea, vomiting, distension and diarrhoea. Here are some of its simple and remedial uses:

Indigestion — Prepare an infusion of pudina leaves by boiling a couple of its leaves in a glass of water. Taking three table spoonful of it after adding a little rock salt at the interval of two or three hours makes a good carminative and digestive aid. It also helps to ameliorate nausea, vomiting, distaste, morning sickness, flatulence and abdominal colic of mild intensity.

Urticaria — Pudina comes very handy to cure itchy skin rashes or urticaria originated due to food allergies. Take a few leaves of pudina by mashing it with a few pieces of black pepper and a pinch of ajwain. It also immediately neutralises the incompatibility of any food article.

Bad breath — Simply chewing a few leaves of fresh pudina helps in controlling bad odour of the mouth. “Sat pudina” or peppermint is an essential ingredient of many popular tooth powders also. Another of its kind can be made at home by finely crushing together ash of almond shell 250 gm, nagarmotha, bark of moulsiri, kattha and hararh 50 gm each and clove, ash of phitkari and dalchini each 25 gm. Just add and crush 10 gm of peppermint to this powder. To fight bad breath and conditions like spongy gums, this makes an excellent tooth powder.

Other uses — Equal quantities of “sat pudina” and “sat ajwain”, if put in a small glass bottle, and kept in the sun with a closed cap for an hour get liquefied. By this method a unique combination is achieved which can be used both internally and externally in a number of ailments. A few drops of it in a cup of warm water act as a good digestive and anti-spasmodic aid, whereas if applied externally it is an effective pain balm. Old timers will recall the famous “amritdhara” drops of the pre-Partition era. This is the exact formula of once very popular and effective medicine.

Besides being used for garnishing and flavouring dishes, salads and soups, pudina makes some of the mouth-watering chutneys in our kitchen. “Arq pudina” the aqueous extract drawn by the distillation method, is the famous medicine used by ayurvedic and Unani physicians.

Brahmi (Bacopa Monnieri)

Brahmi for our body and mind

BRAHMI has been used since time immemorial as a tonic for improving memory. In the gurukuls of ancient India there was the practice to regularly administer Brahmi to young students to help them learn sacred hymns.

The small creeping herb grows wildly in marshy places throughout the hotter parts of India. Scientifically known as Bacopa monnieri and jalneem in Hindi, the whole of the Brahmi plant is endowed with medicinal properties.

Bitter and astringent in taste and light and slightly hot in effect, Brahmi is a pacifier of all the three doshas — mainly kapha and vata. Although people in India, especially ayurvedic physicians, knew about Brahmi’s benefits thousands of years ago, modern research on it was conducted recently by the central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow. The trails have resulted in establishing that this long treasured herb, besides possessing antioxidant properties, also has the amazing ability to facilitate learning and enhance memory and concentration.

Ayurvedic tests describe Brahmi as medhya, a medicine that braces the mind to carry cognitive functions and intellectual pursuits. But ancient authors seem to believe that the healing effects of Brahmi extend far beyond mind and brain. Brahmi is not only a memory-booster and intellect-promoting herb; it is also a tranquilliser, a muscle relaxant, an anti-convulsant, a blood purifier, and an anti-pyretic, carminative and digestive agent.

Though Brahmi is beneficial for maintaining the tridoshic balance, ayurvedic physicians believe it to be the drug of choice for counteracting the vitiated vata dosha — the factor which governs the nervous system,

Brahmi is known for its salutary effect in anxiety, depression, hypertension, sleeplessness, mental retardation, insanity and hysteria. Acharya Chakradutta has written that Brahmi is beneficial in all types of epilepsy. Ancient texts describe the use of Brahmi in a number of other disorders like biliousness, ulcers, splenomegaly, asthma, skin diseases and in general and senile debility.

Brahmi enhances the mind’s ability to learn and concentrate. As it simultaneously calms and invigorates the mind, it is a very good medicine for reducing the effects of stress and nervous anxiety. It also helps maintain the clarity of thought and has proved effective in treating ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) in hyperactive children, and age-related mental disorders in old persons.

Equal quantities of powders of Brahmi, Shankhapushpi and Jatamansi make an excellent combination which, if taken in the dose of one gram two or three times a day, combats the symptoms of anxiety, depression and nervous exhaustion. Sesame oil, enhanced with Brahmi, Amla and Vacha, forms a useful hair tonic. Its regular massage calms the mind and induces sound sleep. Apart from Brahmi sharbat, which is a popular home recipe of the summer season, Brahmi Ghrita, Saraswata Churna and Smritisagar Rasa are classic ayurvedic medicines which are beneficial not only in minor anxiety and depression but also in unmada and apasmara (insanity and epilepsy).

Caution: Some of the ancient texts, in their references, have created confusion by calling another plant, Mandukparni (Centella aciatica) as Brahmi. Invariably sold as Brahmi, Mandukparni is a different herb which will be taken up in these columns separately. While using “Brahmi’, make sure that what you are using is Bacopa moneiri.

Haritaki (Terminalia Chebula)

Haritaki: mother of all herbs

Abhya (which allays the fear of illness), pathya (beneficial in all diseases) and vyastha (which helps gains longevity), that is how haritaki has been named in ancient Sanskrit literature. Popularly known as hararh and scientifically as terminalia chebula, haritaki is one of the oldest herbs known to mankind. Its moderate-sized deciduous tree is found throughout the greater part of India and it is the dry pulp of its fruit which is used as medicine.

Haritaki fruit is predominantly astringent but at the same time is also bitter, sweet, pungent and sour in taste and light, dry and hot in effect. It pacifies vata, pitta and kapha, all the three doshas. Ayurveda has differentiated seven types of haritaki which include varieties ranging from its different stages of ripeness to the species found according to the diverse places of its origin. Haritaki has been abundantly praised for its extraordinary healing properties. Ancient texts have described it to be gentle and caring like a mother.

With a vast array of action on human body, haritaki is primarily digestive, carminative and laxative in nature. It stimulates liver functions, corrects metabolism, kills intestinal worms and has tonic effect on all body organs, including the lungs, heart and brain. Haritaki is also known for its anti-inflammatory, wound healer, anti-obesity, aphrodisiac and, above all, rejuvenating properties.

In its efficacy and usefulness haritaki has been considered to be equal to that of amla. The famous Charak Samhita has described it as a drug of choice in the loss of appetite, indigestion, constipation, upward flow of abdominal gas, sprue and piles. Besides curing the swelling of liver and spleen, haritaki is also beneficial in cough, asthma, hiccup, anemia, jaundice. sinusitis and diseases of the urinary tract. Haritaki helps to dissolve glandular swellings and also has salutary effect in conditions arising due to the excessive use of alcohol.

Haritaki is therapeutically prescribed as a preventive and restorative measure. Though contra-indicated in pregnancy and also forbidden for prolonged use, ayurvedic texts have described different methods to use haritaki in different seasons and diseases. During summer it should be taken with jaggery. In the rainy season, winter and spring, haritaki is advised to be taken with rock salt, ginger and honey, respectively. In the diseases arising due to vitiated vata, haritaki should be taken with ghee, in pitta diseases with sugar and in kapha problems it is indicated to be used with salt.

As a household remedy, haritaki is best used to clear the bowels. If it is combined with a equal quantity of amla and baherha a unique combination is achieved which is known as triphla. Ayurvedic texts have described several uses of triphla, which, besides being attributed with anti-aging properties, is also given independently or as an adjunct to cure a number of diseases.

There are numerous classic ayurvedic medicines where haritaki is used as a chief ingredient, Chitrak haritaki (sinusitis), vyaghri haritaki (asthma), pathyadi qwath (migraine), abhyarishta (piles), vaishvanar churna (rheumatism) lead a vast list of classic formulae which puts haritaki at an exalted place in ayurveda. Apart from its easy availability and low cost, it is the unmatched efficacy of this herb which even today makes its use as popular as it was thousands of years ago.

Saunf (Fenniculum Vulgare) (Fennel)

Saunf: herb and spice

Known as fenniculum vulgare scientifically, mishreya in sanskrit and saunf in common parlance, fennel is a yellowish green herb which is cultivated throughout India as a leaf-vegetable and seed spice. While forming an important ingredient of the Indian kitchen since ages, it is also a household health recipe of grannies. Fruits, root and oil of the plant have medicinal usages.

Saunf is at the same time sweet, pungent and bitter in taste and is light, sharp and cold in effect. Its chemical analysis shows that it consists of protein, fat, certain minerals, fibre and carbohydrates. It contains both volatile and stable oils having a characteristic taste and odour. It alleviates “vata” and “kapha” is primarily used as digestive, appetising and stimulating agent.

Though saunf is shown in different systems of medicines as an aromatic, digestive and carminative agent, ayurvedic texts additionally describe it to be a repellent of abdominal wind, anti-emetic, neutraliser of digestive impurities and an expectorant. Besides this, it is also endowed with anti-colic, glactaguage (that produces milk in breasts) and diuretic properties. It is also mildly antiseptic and vermicidal in action.

It is used in a number of digestion-related ailments such as diarrhoea, dysentery, nausea, gas trouble, and anorexia. It is also beneficial in conditions involving minor coughs and colds, burning micturation and halitosis (bad breath). Due to its strong odour, saunf is used as a corrective agent for less pleasant drugs. Many of the confectionary items are invariably flavoured with saunf. Given below are some tips to gain its medicinal benefits:

* A drink prepared by boiling a tablespoonful of saunf in 100 ml water is beneficial in indigestion, biliousness, flatulence and dyspepsia. Chewing of saunf after meals is considered helpful not only in digestion of the food and but also in countering the problem of bad breath. As a household remedy, fennel decoction is used in infantile colic and flatulence. it checks diarrhoea and excessive gas formation. Saunf in roasted form has more pronounced anti-diarrhoeal action.

* A drink prepared by adding cardamom, cinnamon (dalchini), kiquorice and saunf is a common household remedy to treat minor flu and cough conditions. Soaking overnight one teaspoonful each of coriander and saunf seeds in a glass of water and taking after straining it in the morning ameliorates burning urine occurring in hot weather.

* Mix fine powders of saunf, dry ginger, dry rose leaves, senna and rock salt. Taking occasionally one teaspoonful of this powder at bed time relieves the symptoms of gas, flatulence and constipation.

* “Arq saunf” drawn with aqueous distillation method is a well-known medicine of the Unani pharmacopea and is used to allay symptoms of indigestion, vomiting and other gastrointestinal disturbances. Dissolved 20 ml of it in a cup of warm water and taken as an adjunct with any other medicine to treat digestive upsets brings faster relief.

* Around the globe saunf is available in many varieties. The Indian saunf, which is a bit rough and bigger in size, is considered to be endowed with all active ingredients and is considered the best for medicinal usages.

Jeera (Cuminum Cyminum) (Cumin)

Jeera: Carminative and digestive herb

Since times immemorial jeera has been an inseparable part of the Indian kitchen. Early ayurvedic literature gives ample importance to its medicinal value and even today it continues to benefit mankind whichever way we use it, whether as a spice or as a herb. Called “jeeraka” in Sanskrit and cuminum cyminum scientifically, it is commercially grown mostly in all parts of tropical India.

According to ayurvedic materia medica, jeera is pungent in taste and is light, dry, sharp and hot in effect. It pacifies “vata” and “kapha” in the body but aggravates “pitta”. Jeera contains many important nutrients like protein, carbohydrates and traces of minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and iron in different proportions. Though jeera has been known for various medicinal properties affecting different systems of the body, its main area of action essentially seems to be the gastro-intestinal tract.

Apart from having the marked digestive and carminative effects, jeera is also a wind repellent, anti-colic and intestinal absorbent agent. Of the vast range of its effects on human body, jeera acts as an anti-obesity, anti-inflammatory, blood purifier, diuretic, glactogauge (that enhances milk engendering during lactation) and uterine stimulant medicine. Some ancient texts described it as “katu paushtic”, meaning a bitter tonic. It is given in conditions where a patient complains of the anorexia, nausea, indigestion, distension of the abdomen, colic pains, piles and intestinal worms. Jeera helps treat urinary stasis, prevents stone formation and has a number of uses if applied externally.

As a single herb, jeera is best used in roasted form. Taking a pinch of roasted and crushed jeera shortly before meals enhances appetite whereas if used after food it helps in faster digestion. To allay severe or chronic indigestion, hiccup and abdominal distention, crush jeera, ajwain, black pepper, rock salt and small hararh in equal parts. This “jeerakadi churna” if taken in a daily dose of one to two gms twice a day, with warm water or whenever required, is simple and safe remedy to get the abdominal wind dispelled and to gain symptomatic relief from colic pain.

Jeera is also a very good medicine for mucous diarrhoea and non-specific colitis and is used in combination with other medicines to cure the irritable bowel syndrome. As a simple and safe remedy, by crushing 50 gm of it with an equal quantity of each of nagarmotha, sonth, bark of kutaja and 250 gm of pulp of bael and taking two gm of this powder two or three times a day helps in binding and clearing the stool. Decoction of jeera and dry dhania helps to cure vomiting and loss of appetite occurring during pregnancy.

As a delicacy and appetizer there is a common practice to serve jeera wate before meals. It is available at many eateries, but to overcome the risk of contamination and infection it is better to make this gastronomic and digestive recipe at home. Taking two tablespoonful of each of roasted jeera powder and lemon juice, one table spoonful each of pounded mint leaves, dry mango powder called “amchur” and table salt, 50 gm of sugar, half teaspoonful of black salt and black pepper and a pinch of hing makes about five to seven glasses of jeera water. Besides waking up the taste buds and enhancing the gastric secretions, “jal jeera” also makes a freshening summer drink.

Ayurveda has a large number of classic medicines where jeera is used as an important ingredient. To name only two, Jeerkadyarishta and Hingashtak Churna are the most famous digestive medicines. Apart from the jeera used in Indian kitchen, which is known as “safed” (white) jeera, there is another variety called black jerera. It grows on high altitudes and is costlier than the former. Though considered a separate herb, black jeera has more or less the same medicinal properties as that of the common white jeera.

Tamarind (Tamarindus Indica)

TamarindTamarind (Tamarindus indica), Bengali Tetul is one of the most beautiful trees of the Indian subcontinent. An ancient Sanskrit script describes the fruit as ‘refrigerant, digestive, carminative and laxative’ and useful in bile-related diseases.

tamarindTamarind is semi-evergreen, tropical tree that grows to about 24 m (80 feet) tall and has long drooping branches with alternate, pinnately compound (feather-formed) leaves; the leaflets are about 2 cm (0.75 inch) long. The yellow flowers, about 2.5 cm across, with a red stripe are borne in small clusters. The dark brown fruit is a plump pod 7.5-24 cm long that does not split open. It contains 1 to 12 large, flat seeds embedded in a soft, brownish pulp. This pulp has a high tartaric acid content, that imparts for its sourness.

Tamarind is a good laxative and an antiseptic. It is used for tummy upsets and for the treatment of ulcers. Over-ripe fruits can be used to clean copper and brass.

Ritha (Sapindus Mukorossi, Sapindus Emarginatus, Sapindus Trifoliatus) (Soapnut)

Soapnut-tree (English) Sapindus mukorossi, Sapindus emarginatus, Sapindus trifoliatus , Bara rita, Ritha (Bengali), Phenila, Arishta (India): A deciduous tree found wild in north India, usually with 5-10 pairs of leaves, solitary with large drupes. This tree belongs to the main plant order Sapindaceae and family Sapindeae. The species is widely grown in upper reaches of the Indo-Gangetic plains, Shivaliks and sub-Himalayan tracts at altitudes from 200m to 1500m. Also known as soap-nut tree, it is one of the most important trees of tropical and sub-tropical regions of Asia. It is also called doadni, doda and dodan in Indian dialects. flowerThis tree flourishes in deep clayey loam soil and does best in areas experiencing nearly 150 to 200 cm of annual rainfall. The trunk of Ritha is straight and cylindrical, nearly 4 to 5 m in height. The canopy comprising side branches and foliage constitutes an umbrella-like hemispherical top measuring about 5 m in diameter. The tree can reach an height of 25 m and a girth of 3 to 5 m in nearly 70 years of its existence. Ritha is thus an excellent tree for planting along boulevards.
Ritha flowers during summer. The flowers are small and greenish white, polygamous and mostly bisexual in terminal thyrses or compound cymose panicles. These are sub-sessile; numerous in number and at times occur in lose panicles at the end of branches. The fruit appears in July-August and ripens by November-December. These are solitary globose, round nuts 2 to 2.5 cm diameter, fleshy, saponaceous and yellowish brown in color. The seed is enclosed in a black, smooth and hard globose endocarp. The fruit is collected during winter months for seed and or sale in the market as soap nut.

The trunk of Ritha is straight and cylindrical, nearly 4 to 5 m in height. The canopy comprising side branches and foliage constitutes an umbrella-like hemispherical top measuring about 5 m in diameter. The tree can reach an height of 25 m and a girth of 3 to 5 m in nearly 70 years of its existence. Ritha is thus an excellent tree for planting along boulevards. Ritha wood is hard and light yellow in color. It is close-grained and compact weighing about 30 kg per cubic foot. The wood is utilized for rural building construction, oil and sugar presses, agricultural implements, etc.

Ritha seed germinates easily. To ensure cent per cent germination, the seed is soaked in lukewarm water for 24 hours and then sown, either directly in already prepared 60 x 60 cm pits at 5m x 5m spacing or sown in polythene bags filled with clayey loam soil mixed with farmyard manure or similarly prepared nursery beds.

For thousands of years Indians have been using it for a variety of purposes. It is known in Hindi as Ritha, reetha, aritha, dodan, kanma and thali. Had soapnut arrived in Britain at the same time as tea, this country would have remained far less polluted, with greater reserves of fossil fuels for the millennium ahead.

Chinese peasants traditionally used the small yellow fruit of the soap berry tree (Sapindus mukorossi) to make soap. Very easy to make: simply grinding up the rind and soaking it in water produces a soft liquid soap used for washing and as a shampoo — popular with village women because it “beautifies the skin and removes freckles”.

s. nutsSoapnuts have been around for a very long time in India and Nepal. People there have always been washing their clothes with soapnuts. The secret of the soapnut is as simple as it is effective: The nut shell contains saponin, which acts like soap as soon as it gets in contact with water.In fact the skin of the fruit is highly valued by the rural folks as a natural produced shampoo for washing their hair. They also use these for washing woolen clothes. This is why some botanists have named the species as Sapindus detergens.
Soapnuts have long been used in the Western world for soap production, usually together with many chemical additives which are not really necessary for the actual washing process and which are damaging to the user as well as our environment.
The percentages of individual acids were found to be: palmitic, 4.0; stearic, 0.2; arachidic, 4.4; oleic 62.8; linoleic, 4.6; linolenic, 1.6; and eicosenoic, 22.4. The oil is composed of 0.1, 2.1, 22.0, and 75.8% trisaturated, monounsaturated disaturatd, diunsaturated monosaturated, and triunsaturated glycerides, respectively. The special characteristic of the Sapindus mukorossi seed oil is its content of 26.3 and 26.7% triolein and eicoseno-di-oleins, respectively (Lipids. 1975 Jan;10(1):33-40).


Soapnuts contain saponin, which works similar to soap. Ironically, soapnuts are generally used in the West to extract the saponin in order to manufacture industrial soap, whereby the original potential of its use as a laundry detergent was ignored for a long time. Once these soapnuts get in contact with water in the washing machine, the saponin is naturally extracted and creates the same effect as a conventional laundry detergent.
The effect is positive: soapnuts clean remarkably well! All common stains will be removed, just as with the use of normal washing powder. Merely persistent stains, such as blood, or red wine, are more difficult to remove.
100 grams of soapnuts produces a good 2.5 litres of soapnut Juice. 3-4 spoons of Juice are sufficient for a laundry load, a little less, with added vinegar will clean a load of dishes in the dishwasher.
An infusion made from soapnuts gives a shampoo which works well and effective to fight dandruff as well as gives hair a silky shimmer and vitality. After the hairwash with a soapnut infusion it is easy to comb through the hair, and it takes much longer to become oily. Very suitable especially for allergy sufferers. Soapnut also discourages the occurrence of parasites, such as nits or lice.


  • soapnut is excellent for washing and bathing humans and pets. It leaves the skin with a soft, smooth layer which protects against infections and insects.
  • mechanic’s hands, stained hands, or those where the skin is cracked from chemical cleaners can gain considerable relief. noticeable improvements within two weeks have been found, including smoother skin and the removal of ingrained marks.
  • soapnut is a natural exfoliant. It is considered to be second to none and is also very common in the Indian Ayuverdic healing system.
  • in hair care, soapnut helps to remove dandruff, gives hair more body and works against infections of lice and other parasites. It leaves the hair, not just looking healthy but, actually healthy. Recently there has been evidence showing that soapnut also reduces hair loss.
  • soapnut is traditionally used as a natural and effective treatment for skin complaints including eczema, chronic itching and psoriasis.
  • soapnut is perfect for washing clothes, with no optical whiteners, foaming agents or other chemical additives. In Nepal, soapnut is used for washing the finest silks and woollens in preference to any other product.
  • elsewhere in the kitchen, soapnut is also invaluable; dishes, cutlery and even greasy pans can be cleaned with soapnut – and it is dishwasher friendly.
  • most of us are unaware that many of the fruit and vegetables we eat are grown using quantities of harmful chemicals. supermarkets also use chemicals to increase their shelf-life, hence their recommendation to was fresh produce before use. Scientific test have shown that a ten minute soak in a soapnut solution will remove up to 95% of the surface pesticides and chemical residues.
  • other uses include cleaning teeth, polishing jewellery, cleaning glass, paintwork and even washing the car!
  • in the garden a soapnut solution can be used as a spray to repel and prevent a wide variety of pests and blight, including aphids and blackfly. A well regarded scientific horticulturist is currently researching these claims, with great success.
  • Especially for allergic persons, persons suffering from neurodermatitis and people with sensitive skin, chemical detergents often provoke an aggravation of their ailment. Furthermore, it is evident that some of the chemicals used in some detergents are allergic. In our civilized surrounding, the amount of allergic substances rises steadily.

    The fruit is valued for the saponins (10.1 %) present in the pericarp which constitutes up to 56.5 per cent of the drupe. The fruits are credited with expectorant and emetic properties and are used in the treatment of excessive salivation, epilepsy and chlorosis.

    The powdered seeds are said to possess insecticide properties. They are employed in the treatment of dental caries. It cleanses the skin of oily secretion and is even used as a cleanser for washing hair and a hair tonic, and forms a rich, natural lather.
    Its detergent action, which cleanses the hair and removes, accumulated debris and a sebaceous material further more imparting speculiar reflection and hair luster.

    Chandan (Santalum Album) (Sandalwood)

    Sandalwood Tree Chandana (India): A small to medium-sized, evergreen semi-parasitic tree, with slender branches, valued for its heartwood.

    Both the wood and the oil have long been employed in medicine.

    The main constituent of sandalwood oil is santalol. It is used to alleviate itching and inflammation. It is credited with cooling, diaphoretic, diuretic and expectorant properties, and sandalwood finds several applications in household remedies.


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