Used for improve the shine of jewels, to wash cloths, hair and also for medicine purposes, Reetha – soapnut is a versatile medicinal herb. It is used for treating skin diseases and psychiatric disorders.
Botanical Name- Sapindus trifoliatus Linn(S. Laurifolia Vahl),
As per Dr PV Sharma, in North India, Sapindus mukorossi is used in the name of Reetha.
Sapindus mukorossi is called chinese soapberry, is native of China but is cultivated in north India.
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta (Vascular plants)
Division: Magnoliophyta (Flowering plants)
Class: Magnoliopsida (Dicotyledons)
Family: Sapindaceae (Soapberry family)
Genus: Sapindus (Soapberry)
Habitat: Temperate to Tropical regions of India and Nepal
Names in different languages:
English name- soap nut, Soapnut, Soap Nut, Soapberry, Soap Berry, Washnut, and Wash Nut, South Indian Soapnut, three-leaf soapberry
Hindi name- Ritha, Reetha, Aritha, फेनिल phenil (as it produces froth), रिष्ट risht, रिष्टक rishtak
Kannada name – Antuvala kayi ಅಂಟುವಾಳ ಕಾಯಿ, ನೊರೆಕಾಯಿ norekaayi, ತೊಗಟೆ ಮರ togate mara
Telugu name- Kunkum Chettu, కుంకుడుచెట్టు kunkuduchettu, ఫేనిలము phenilamu
Tamil name- Pannankottai, புனலை punalai, பூந்தி punthi, பூவந்தி puvanti
Manipuri name – কেক্ৰূ Kekru
Malayalam name – ചവക്കായ് cavakkaay, പശക്കൊട്ടമരം pasakkottamaram, ഉറുവഞ്ചി uruvanchi
Bengali name – ৰীঠা Ritha
Oriya, Konkani name – ରୀଠା Ritha
Urdu name – Phenil, ريٹھا Reetha
Gujarati name – અરીઠી arithi, અરીઠો aritho, અરીઠું arithu
Kumbha beeja – round shaped seeds
Peeta phena, Phenila – frothy fruits
Raksha beeja, Arishtaka – Thwarts away evil elements and protects
Garbhapati – used in inducing abortion
Mangalya – auspicious
Reetakaranja, Gucchapushpaka, Prakeerya
Bhavaprakasha – Vatadi Varga
Kaiyadeva Nighantu – Oshadhi Varga
Raja Nighantu – Prabhadradi Varga
Sapindus trifoliatus chemical Constituents
Saponins from Pericarp- Hedera- genin & oleanolic acid and sopindic acid , Saapindoside A& B, Mukuroziosides, Trifolioside II
Soapnut medicinal properties
Rasa (taste) – Tikta – bitter, Katu – Pungent
Guna (qualities)- Laghu – light to digest, Teekshna – strong, piercing
Vipaka- Katu – Undergoes pungent taste conversion after digestion
Veerya – Ushna – Hot potency
Effect on Tridosha – Balances all the three Doshas
Part used- Fruit, shells, shell powder, roots, bark
Dosage- Powder 1-3 g in divided dose per day.
Lekhana – has scraping property, useful in balancing Kapha, in respiratory disorders and in cholesterol / clot deposition in blood vessels
Laghu – light to digest
Garbhapatana – induces abortion
Indicated in –
Graharoga – Psychiatric disorders
Kushta – skin diseases
Kandu – itching, pruritis
Visha – Toxic conditions, poisoning
Visphota – boils, blisters
roots and bark are expectorant and demulcent.
Roots are specially used for hemicrania (migraine) and epilepsy.
fruits which are bitter and astringent are emetic, abortifacient, expectorant, anthelmintic.
Because of its anti inflammatory and anti bacterial properties, its powder is applied externally to treat boils, scorpion bite, itching lesions.
Reetha is used as the main ingredient in soaps and shampoos for washing hair.
Reetha powder is still readily used widely to wash hair. It kills lice, prevents dandruff.
Oral usage is contra indicated during pregnancy, as it is capable of inducing abortion.
How to prepare a shampoo using Reetha:
Dry the reetha fruits. Cut open, remove the seeds.
Soak the dry de-seeded fruit in water overnight. Boil it. The reetha will turn slimy and mushy. Strain the liquid and add any of your favorite essential oil to it. Your shampoo is ready to use.
How to use Reetha powder to wash jewels and even cloth:
Dry the reetha fruits. Pound it, remove the seeds. Make a powder out of it.
Put 2 tablespoons of soapnut powder into half a bucket of water. Mix it. Leave it for five minutes. It will form froth. Now, this is used as soap water.
Soak the cloth in that water for one hour and then wash.
The same frothing water in small quantities is used for bringing back the shine in jewels.
Ayurvedic medicines with Reetha:
Asanadi kashaya – used in the treatment of diabetes, skin diseases and obesity etc.
Five Tirucallane saponins extracted from the gall of Sapindus mukorossi showed moderate on Epstein Barr virus early antigen activation assay.
Chemical composition and bio activities
Anti ulcer activity of ethanolic extract of Sapindus trifoliatus – A maximum anti ulcer activity was found at 400 mg/ kg of aqueous extract which was near equivalent to that of Sucralfate.