By Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD(Ayu), PhD
Soapnut (Sapindus latifolia) is an age old seed which was used as a substitute to soap. The alkaline nature of this fruit made them to take benefit as a detergent. It is known as Arishtaka in Sanskrit which means that is capable of removing the blemishes or dirt.
Though oral Ayurvedic containing reetha (soapnut) are very few, it is used as single herb remedy in many ill-health conditions. It is used as an emetic agent in several diseased conditions in animals. In veterinary practice it is used abundantly as external and internal medicament.
Here are few such simple remedies of my practice-
1. Seed marrow in abdominal pain and menstrual pain:
The seed of soap nut has a small white or greenish yellow marrow. This is slightly bitter and is a very good anti flatulent. Hence it has good role over Apanavata. 3-4 seeds are crushed and made into fine paste. This is administered along with 1 – 2 teaspoon of sesame oil in case of abdominal pain and menstrual pain.
Read related: Reetha – Soapnut: Uses, Research, Side Effects
2. Soapnut water in food poisoning:
4-5 seeds are crushed and soaked in 1-2 litres of water. This water is given to drink in the individuals who are poisoned (internally). This induces vomiting and hence the poisonous effects are reduced. After complete emesis ash gourd juice is given so as to counter act the irritation of the soap nut juice.
In food poisoning also this is helpful.
3. Soapnut seed with jaggery in gaseous distention of abdomen:
Soapnut seed marrow is mixed with jaggery and administered in the dose of 500-600 mg, once or twice a day. This can be used by making it into tablet also. This pacifies recurrent cases of abdominal distension.
4. Soapnut tree bark in wound washing:
1-2 small pieces of fresh bark (a palm size each) is taken and crushed well. This is made into decoction. This decoction is used to wash the wounds. (decoction = 1 tablespoon of powder is boiled with 2 cups of water, reduced to half a cup, filtered).
The same decoction is used for washing gangrene and get rid of slough, which quickens healing process.
5. Soapnut leaf oil in eczema:
50 gram of soapnut leaf paste is made (by taking fresh leaves and dry leaves are not useful) and cooked well with 100 ml each of sesame oil and water, till the complete evaporation of water.
This oil is used to apply over the eczematous lesions.
6. Ghee and Soapnut in itching skin diseases and herpes:
Fresh Soapnut (when it is unctuous, juicy, greenish yellow in color) is taken and fresh juice is obtained. To this equal quantity of ghee is added and it is cooked well till complete evaporation of water content. This ghee is applied over the lesions of herpes and chronic itch.
Arishtaka is a lesser known, abundantly available and cheaper herb and is very easy to collect. Hence, it can be used as a substitute for endangered herbs.
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