In our country this wonderful herb is also known as ”soapwort”. It belongs to the big carnation family (Caryophyllaceae), angiospermous plants family including 88 genuses and 2,000 species. The name is derived from the Latin ”sapo”, which means soap. That is also called in all languages, because different parts of the plant has a foaming ability with which is great for washing.
In native state is more commonly found in colonies / tufts around roads and forests, on swampy meadows on river banks, but also in sands, dry and warm places. Can be found up to 1500m above sea level all over Europe, North America and Asia, from Caucasus to Japan.
It flowers beautifully from June to October and therefore is often found in gardens as decorative plant. In fact its tufty colors are cultivated by gardeners since 1629 and today can be seen in many old gardens and parks. In the language of flowers , means purity of body and soul. when Naming a bouquet of saponaria to someone, it shows, that he should take care of your.
Best known are several types:
- Saponaria officinalis L. - therapeutic (medical) saponaria
- Saponaria ocymoides L. - Rock soapwort
- Saponaria bellidifolia Sm. - evergreen saponaria with daisy leaves
- Saponaria caespitosa DC. - Meadow saponaria
- Saponaria lutea L. - Yellow sapunaria
- Saponaria orientalis L. - Oriental saponaria
There is one more type of saponaria - the so called Soap aloe (Aloe Saponaria),which is entirely different plant (family Asphodelaceae), found in the area of Cape of Good Hope in South Africa ,and more known in Africa and North America as “American aloe ”. It is also used as natural soap, but is comparatively a new discovery for Europeans. In cosmetics and folk medicine in Europe is used the herb, which is known as therapeutic (medical) saponaria or Saponaria officinalis L. This plant is tall from 30 to 80 cm, with wonderful sweetscented white and pale pink tufty.colors . For cosmetics industry purposes is cultivated as crop. Mainly used is the root (Radix Saponariae) of 2-3 annual plants, called “red soap root”, because after drying outside is brownish, but inside - white with a yellowish core. In folk medicine you can find recommendations and recipes with the leaves of saponaria collected during the flowering season. Like this one: take a few blossom leaflets , sprinkle them with drops of water and rub it in his hand. Great soap for picnic or nature trips .The most important ingredient of this herb are saponins from 5 to 20% These are complex glycosides which with water form as foam of soap, hence the name. In the leaves are also isolated alkaloids, flavonoids, fats, phytosterols, minerals (calcium, manganese, iron, zinc, copper), mucous substances andascorbic acid (vitamin C).
Saponins help with absorption of fats, carbohydrates and other substances in the body. By inhalation irritate the throat and the nose causing sneezing and irritate the inner mucous membranes, thus act expectorant. In addition have antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and antiinflammatory action. These properties predetermine the use of sapunaria as cleansing tool inside and outside. Internal is used for herpeses, rheumatism and liver insufficiency, spleen diseases , lymph vessels and nodes diseases. Saponaria has a good diuretic and laxative effect and excellent cure for worms. It is used as tonic, diaphoretic and expectorant substance, great cleansing the body from toxic substances and slags. Presents in recipes for improving metabolism and respiration, against renal calculuses and gall-stones, gout, jaundice, and pertussis. Saponins are permanently connected with cholesterol, protecting vessels from the accumulation of sclerotic plaques. Conducted through 1976 survey in Poland shows that the potion of saponaria acts anesthetic, accelerates wound healing and normalizes activity of the blood and lymph vessels. Saponaria root is recommended for chewing when you have toothache and potion - gargle for sore throat. External use in skin diseases related to itching, eczemas, skin sores, urticaria, acne, liches, psoriasis, dandruff and hair loss. All this makes saponaria a preferred ingredient for cosmetic products with natural base: shampoos, means of intimate hygiene, toothpastes, mouth wash preparations, for cleaning the face and body. People started using saponaria since ancient times, founding its quality to dissolve fats. At first for washing of fresh sheared sheep wool and bleaching delicate tissues,and later for treatment. Historians proved that the ancient Romans sprinkled it in the bath when they had itching. In 1577 Hieronymus Bock prescribed saponaria roots mixed in densed mess with honey to be put on the raw spot. In XVII century, the famous Polish botanist Sireniush writes in his books that ” saponaria juice urine chases, for the abdomen is a great salvation, and half lot(old measure 1 lot = 12.8 g) boiled in a cup of water - removes cough, breathing and tightness in the chest. “In pharmacies the root was sold as soap for stains on clothes, for washing silk and wool, and washing hands and feet. Also members of the Order of St. Francis washed their hoods with this soap. The early American colonists who brought from England saponaria, used foam for cleaning everything, including their boats. In weaving factories of New England used to wash and make textiles thicker with saponaria. The Dutch living in Pennsylvania added the herb in beer to obtain more abundant and stable foam, used nowadays. In Asia it is used in the production of khalva, creams, foamy drinks and beer. Today saponaria is also used in homeopathy and veterinary medicine. Of course practice showed another feature of saponaria:IT CAN BE TOXIC when is OVERDOSEd! Saponins are toxic to cold-blooded animals and fish, which ancient fishermen knew and used to catch big fish. For man it is dangerous to overdose on drink a potion of sapunaria, i.e. more is not always more healthy. A characteristic symptom of poisoning is bitter taste in the mouth with a feeling of mucus, followed by vomiting, abdominal pain, cough, etc. Needed in this case are urgent doctor’s intervention and gastric lavage. Therefore, drinking this herb should be under the supervision of a specialist. Overdose on external use is not monitored and it is becoming more widely used in natural cosmetics. Here are some recipes to improve the condition of the hair more shine and elasticity:
- put a handful of dried or fresh saponaria, in a hot potion of lime, wash and rub gently into hair and scalp, rinse out with water. For the final rinse put a few drops of vinegar in the water;
- 5 to 15 g dried or fresh herb in 1 liter water, boil 10 minutes, is used instead of shampoo or as a compress for skin problems;
- ½ tablespoon dried and crushed root is poured with 250 ml cold water and gradually heated until boiling, let it boil for 5 minutes in a covered dish and after cooling is filtered and massaged into the hair, and regular washing of face with a potion of the roots of saponaria makes the skin soft and velvety;
- 2 tablespoons dried and crushed roots are poured with 250 ml of hot water and brew for 15-20 minutes, add a few drops of lemon and is used for a final rinse of the hair;
A recipe for cleaning stains, bleaching and washing of fine wool and silk products: pieces of the root are crucked before putting in lukewarm water, stir vigorously until the water begins to foam and a little more to take the maximum quantity of useful substances. Then it is filtered and used to clean without chemicals. Saponaria is anatural soap - an important component of ”Hair and Body Shampoo” byBIO ARGENTUM cosmetic line for babies and children. It is combined with silver water, with natural essential oils and herbal extracts,thanks to which the accumulated dust and harmful substances during the day are gently removed, pores are released and nourishes hair by preserving its natural splendor and beauty. This shampoo is appropriate to moms and dads, to grandparents who have problems with the scalp, hair loss or due to prolonged treatment with chemicals have lost their splendor and elasticity of hair. Favourable effect in everyday use.