Soapnut berries produces the soap nut shells, which contains saponin. Saponin is used as laundry detergent,
dish wish, cleansing lotion,portein shampoo, protein shampoo with conditioner body wash, and
all purpose cleanser.
It is also, used to cleanse hair and skin and a very good hair tonic.
Sapindusmukorossi (Sapindaceae) is a deciduous tree and well known as soapnuts. It is native to India and widely distributed in Japan, China, Bengal and Pakistan. It is also known as doda, dodan, reettha, ritha, soapnut, soapberry and washnuts in various parts of the world. It is one of the most important trees of tropical and sub-tropical regions of Asia. The plant has commercial importances for its dried fruits and seeds. A single tree can produce 30-35 kg of fruits per year and each fruit consists of 1-3 seeds. Soapnuts are not actually nuts but they earn their name due to its macadamia sized berry which is split open when dried in the sun, producing a dark golden shell which is known as soapnut. They contains high quantity of saponins that are versatile substitute of soap.Soapnuts has been used in traditional medicine for various ailments and earlier chemical investigations indicates that this plant has a number of bioactive constituents.
Traditional and Commercial Uses
It is traditionally used to make herbal cosmetics such as shampoos and conditioners due to its significance for removing lice from the scalp.It is also used in soaps, detergents and cleaners. In homes, few nuts can be placed in cotton drawstring bag and used for washing silk, woolen, and other delicate fabric clothes. It is also used in textile auxiliary and in preparation of toothpastes. The wood is hard, compact and closely grained that is used to make furniture, plywood, board and sawing boards. It is also used for fuel and charcoal.
Soapnuts has great medicinal value and used as an expectorant, contraceptive and emetic. It is used in the treatment of epilepsy, migraines, chlorosis and excessive salivation. It is used on skin for treatment of eczema, pimples, freckles and psoriasis. It exhibit pharmacological properties such as insecticidal, antimicrobial, antifungal, antibacterial, spermicidal, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory,piscidal, cytotoxic, molluscicidal andhepatoprotective, which are used for treatment of different disorders in indigenous system of medicine.
Leaves and Roots Uses
The leaves are used in baths as they relieve joints pain and the roots are used to cured gout and rheumatism. These are even given to smokers as it helps them to give up tobacco and relative products. They also helps to reduced migraine and extra salivation problems.
The fruits is rich in saponins (56.5%) and used as a substitute of soap therefore, it is mixed with water to clean clothes. It is a source of natural fibres, surfactant, expectorant and a cure for epilepsy. It is used to polish tarnished gold, silver, metal ware and jewelry. It showed significance in inhibiting growth of tumor cells. The lather of fruit is used to treat skin burns. It is used as a soap or facewash to fair the complexion of skin andas a shampoo to wash the hairs and get rid of lice, hence it act as an insecticide. It also reduce the hair fall and dandruff problems due to its antifungal property. It also improves the blood circulation in head and the head will get enough nutrients and oxygen, so the hairs becomes healthier. It also actsas haemolytic.It is considered as “life prolonging” and “non-illness fruit” in countries like Japan and China, respectively.
The seeds are crushed down and boiled to make a liquid which is used in some sweets like “rasgulla” that added softness to the desserts. They are also used to bleach cardamom seeds in order to improve the colour and flavor of the spice. The powder of seeds are employed in the treatment of constipation, common cold, nausea, arthritis and dental caries. It cleans the skin from oily secretions and used to wash hairs, as it in rich in lather. They have insecticidal significance and used to make rosaries. Seeds kernels are used as a fertilizer. The seed oil is a common source of biodiesel fuel and strong candidate in healing of skin wounds.
Soapnuts contains phytochemical constituents such as triterpenoidal saponins which are of three types, i.e. dammarane, tirucullane and oleanane while the seeds contain 23% oil which contain 92% triglycerides. The fraction of triglyceride consists of 56.7% diolein type glycerides (i.e. dioleo-stearin, dioleo-palmitin and dioleo-arachidin), 30 % oleopalmito-arachidin glyceride and 13.3 % oleo-diarachidin glyceride. Two lipid fractions are also isolated form soapnutsby TLC (Thin Layer Chromatography)method i.e. fraction A (normal triglyceride) and fraction B (nitrogenous constituents). The seed oil also contain cyanolipid. The fruits are reported to contained sesquiterpenoidalglcosides, saponins, sugars and mucilage which are extracted through LC (Liquid Chromatography) and MS (Mass Spectroscopy). The leaves extract contains different types of flavonoids such as apigenin, rutin, quercetin and kaempferol which are isolated by column chromatography on polyamide sorbent.
Soapnuts have no adverse effects but direct contact with the eyes should be avoided. However, it is recommended not to eat the fruits because they contain saponins which are used as a fish poison in streams and lakes for fishing purpose but these poisonous saponins are poorly absorbed in the human blood and pass through human body without any harm. The saponins can be removed from fruits easily by leaching in running water.