Ritha, Aritha Or Soap Nuts - The 100% Natural Detergent And Cleaner - Its Benefits And Uses And Many Health Benefits
Ritha, Aritha Or Soap Nuts
Latin name : Several species of the Genus Sapindus, like S. mucorossi, S. emarginatus, S.laurifolius etc.
Indian names : Reetha, ritha, aritha, etc
Common names : Soap nuts, Indian soapberry, laundry tree, washing nuts, washing berry, etc
The Genus Sapindus belongs to the lychee family; Sapindaceae. The trees in the genus Sapindus are small and 5 to 10 species of this genus provide the soap nuts or ritha that are the fruits of these trees. These trees grow in warm, temperate to tropical parts of the world. The Sapindus trees are native to India and Nepal.
S. mucorossi, S.laurifolius, S.emarginatus, S.trifoliatus, are grown in India while S.mucorossi is grown in China.
Among the other species are S.delavayi, S.marginatus, S.saponaria, S.ohauensis and S.rarak which also provide soap nuts and are grown in different parts of the world.
The soap nuts contain saponins which are natural surfactants and approximately 15% of the soapnut pulp contains these saponins.
Soap Nuts In A Bag
Soap Nuts or Laundry Tree & Soap nutsClick thumbnail to view full-size
About Soap Nuts or Ritha And The Soap Nut Tree - Some Uses And As Medicine
The soap nut tree grows to about 20 meters tall. It has a straight trunk with a smooth bark. The tree lives for about 70 years and during this period keeps growing.
Soap nuts are 100% natural, environmental friendly and biodegradable. They contain saponins that are natural surfactants that remove dirt, preserve the color and quality of the fabric and leave the clothes soft.
Soap nuts can effectively replace your normally used detergents used for washing clothes. They are extremely gentle because they are chemical free and this is a boon for those with sensitive skin.
Traditionally these soap nuts - the pulp of the fruit and not the seeds - have been used since centuries by the native people of Asia to wash clothes as well as hair. Soap nuts are also used in cosmetics and detergents, and in various other products.
The most surprising part of soap nuts is their use in traditional folk medicine as a remedy to treat a variety of health conditions, though these have not been confirmed by research studies.
However, soap nuts have many properties that offer health benefits and there have been numerous studies done to confirm these properties. Some of these you can read in the references at the end of the article.
In the Ayurvedic system of medicine also, soapnuts are being used in Ayurvedic hair shampoos, cleansers and also in medicines for treating certain skin conditions.
In Unani and Tibetan medicine also ritha or soap nuts have been used in medicine.
The leaves of the Sapindus tree acts as food for the larvae of some species of moths and butterflies.
Extracts of the seed have been used to stop the growth and spread of the Aedes aegypt mosquito, which spreads viral diseases. The extract interferes with the enzyme activity of the larvae.
How To Make Soap Nut Juice
- Add 50 grams of crushed soap nuts minus its seeds to 1 liter of water.
- Keep to boil and once it starts to boil lower the heat and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
- On simmering, the saponins will leach into the water. Cool the solution, strain and fill it into an empty bottle.
- You can simmer for a longer time to make the solution more concentrated.
- Add essential oil of your choice to this solution if you desire a particular fragrance.
- The strained out soap nuts can be used to make a liquid hand wash by adding a little water to the soap nuts and blending it in a blender.
How To Use Soap Nuts For Different Purposes
Soap nuts can be put to various uses some of which are explained below.
- As a laundry detergent
To wash clothes put 5-6 soap nuts in a muslin bag and drop it in the washer of the machine. The clothes will be cleaned naturally and smell fresh. If fragrance is needed add a few drops of your choice of essential oil in the washer.
- As A Shampoo
Crush about 5 to 6 soap nuts (remove the seeds before crushing). Put in a pan and add about 3 cups of water.
Keep to boil and once it comes to a boil let the contents simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain the mixture into an empty shampoo bottle. Discard the soap nuts.
Use little as it does not form much foam and this may lead you to think you haven't added enough.If the hair after washing feels stiffer than normal use less of it next time. Soap nuts' shampoo leaves the hair soft and clean.
You can also use a little soap nut powder on the body instead of soap and have a bath. It will cleanse the skin as well but take care to use just a little.
- To Control Pests
Add 1 teaspoon of soap nut powder or reetha powder to a bowl of water mix well and soak the vegetables and fruits in this. The insecticide and chemical sprays will be cleaned away. Be sure to rinse and wash the foods well with fresh water.
- As An All Purpose Cleaner
Ritha or soap nuts can be used to clean almost anything. Mix a little soap nut powder in water and use this solution to clean windows, glass, carpets, pets etc.
- Soap nuts are the main ingredients in soaps and shampoos for washing skin.
- Precious metals like gold and silver can be brightened by using soapnuts.
- Soap nuts can be used for making soap nut juice. This juice can be used to do laundry @ 3 tablespoons per wash load, wash utensils and crockery in the dishwasher @ the same concentration as in laundry, sweep floors, bathrooms, wash hair, clean windows @ 2 tablespoons of soap nut juice and 3 tablespoons of vinegar.
Some Benefits Of Soap Nuts
- Good for the environment. They are totally biodegradable.
- Safe for those suffering from sensitive skin or those with skin allergies or conditions like psoriasis, eczema etc as they are non irritating.
- Safe for the washing machine be it front loading or top loading. Though not much suds are generated by the use of soap nuts the clothes will be washed clean.
- Safe for all types of clothes even delicate fabrics like those with embroidery etc.
- Safe for the septic system and they also have antimicrobial properties.
- They are good as eco friendly gifts.
Health Benefits Of Soap Nuts Or Ritha
- Ritha or soap nuts have anti inflammatory, anti microbial, antibiotic, antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, antipruritic, anti hyperlipidemic, emetic, and CNS depressive activity.
- Soap nuts have anti inflammatory properties. They can be used on inflamed joints externally to reduce inflammation.
- Ritha acts as a purgative to reduce both body heat and accumulated mucus.
- In morphine poisoning, ritha powder is given to induce vomiting.
Dose : For inducing vomiting it is 3-6 grams of the fruit pulp powder, as purgative, it is 4-8 grams of the powder and for other medicinal use it is 1-2 grams of the powder.
- The soap nut tree has inhibitory activity against a number of pathogens like, E.coli, Salmonella, Pseudomonas, Klebsiella, Staphylococcus, Micrococcus, Streptococcus, Bacillus species.
A study was done to assess the antibacterial effects of the leaf extract on these bacteria as compared to Penicillin and Streptomycin.
- Active ingredients in the leaves include the phytochemicals, sugar, tannins, flavonoids, saponin, terpenoids, cardiac glycoside etc.
- The fruit extract lowers both cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Ritha leaf extracts show lower blood sugar due to its anti diabetic activity.
- The antioxidant activity can be used to manufacture anticancer & anti aging products for use on the skin.
- Soap nut extracts have hepatoprotective and anti epileptic activity and is an anti hysteric.
- Because of its spermicidal activity a herbal contraceptive has been made from it. Concentrations almost 10 times lower than above have been shown to inhibit trichomoniasis in women, a sexually transmitted disease.
The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.
- Sapindus emarginatus: Phytochemistry & Various Biological Activities
- S. saponaria show inhibitory and fungicidal activity in vitro, in addition to in vivo activity against azole-resistant vaginal isolates of C. glabrataand azole-susceptible and resistant isolates of C. albicans
- Antimicrobial activity of Sapindus mukorossi and Rheum emodi extracts against H pylori: In vitro and in vivo studies.
- Research studies have been conducted to prove the plant's potential as being spermicidal, contraceptive, hepatoprotective, emetic, anti-inflammatory and anti-protozoal
- T J, Basha G, N C. Evaluation into Antiepileptic Activity of Aqueous Extract of Sapindus Trifoliatus (Pericarp) In Swiss Albino Rats. Asian J Phar Biol Res. 2011; 1(4): 459-463.
- Sapindus trilfoliatus has anti inflammatory action.
- Sapindus trifoliatus has muscle relaxant activity.
- ANTIMICROBIAL ACTIVITY OF FRUITS OF Sapindus emarginatus
- Anti-Trichomonas activity of Sapindussaponins, a candidate for development as microbicidal contraceptive
- Research shows that chemicals used in cleaning products are harmful to the environment and the use of natural cleansers, such as Ritha Nut, are beneficial.
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© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly
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