Soapwort (Saponaria Officinalis) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects

Soapwort (Saponaria Officinalis) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects

Soapwort (Saponaria Officinalis) Overview

Soapwort (Saponaria Officinalis) other names: Bouncing-Bet, Herbe √† Foulon, Herbe √† Savon, Jabonera Roja, Saponaire, Saponaire Commune, Saponaire Officinale, Saponaire Rouge, Saponaria officinalis, Saponariae Rubrae Radix, Savonni√® re, Soapwort.

The soapwort is a perpetual plant, which is also popularly known as the bouncing bet in America. Soapwort also has several folk names like the latherwort that are derived from the herb's distinguished feature to produce lather like the soaps. The herb has rich content of saponins that are nature's cleansing agents and hence soapwort is widely used to get the body rid of toxins.

Soapwort (Saponaria Officinalis) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Soapwort (Saponaria Officinalis) flower

The soapwort herb usually has a single straight stem grows up to a height of two feet or higher. Normally, the plant grows in bunched and has oval shaped leaves that grow opposite to each other on the stem. The leaves are pointed at the end, but the borders are even and smooth. Between the period July and September, the plant bears flowers that have five petals. The colors of the soapwort flowers vary from whitish pink to rose and are approximately one inch in width. The soapwort flowers grow in bunches at the pinnacle of the stems.

The early European settlers in America brought soapwort from their native land and used the herb to wash virtually everything ranging from fine fabric like handmade lace to utensils made from tin or alloys. Employees of the New England textile used the soapwort for cleaning as well as thickening freshly woven cloth in a method that was known as ‘fulling'. Owing to this practice, the plant is also known as the fuller's herb. 

The soapwort is indigenous to the temperate clime zones in Europe, Asia and North America. The plant grows and flourishes in the open forested regions as well as the sides of the railway tracks. Normally, the soapwort is extensively grown as a garden herb. While the flowers of soapwort are collected in summer, the roots of the herb are dug out in autumn.

Soapwort has the ability to thrive in any soil that is reasonable fertile and has a proper drainage. In addition, this plant can succeed in complete sunlight as well as partial shade. 

It is important to note that you should never grow soapwort close to any pond having amphibian life or fishes, because these plants may lead to poisoning if they go into the water. Flowers of soapwort have a light fragrance - a sweet aroma which reminds one of clove. While it is an excellent moth plant, soapwort has the ability to hybridize easily with other plants belonging to the same genus.

Soapwort (Saponaria Officinalis) Health Benefits

Soapwort is a plant. Soapwort root is used as medicine.

People take soapwort for swollen airways (bronchitis). They sometimes put soapwort directly on the skin to treat poison ivy, acne, psoriasis, eczema, and boils.

Although soapwort has multiple therapeutic benefits, soapwort is primarily taken internally as an expectorant or a remedy for coughs. It is believed that the herb's function as a potent irritant in the alimentary canal or gut invigorates the cough reaction and induces the secretion of more liquid mucus inside the respiratory tract. As a result of this property of soapwort, the herbal medical practitioners recommend the use of the aromatic plant to cure bronchitis, coughs and even some conditions of asthma (a respiratory disease caused by allergies). The herb has other therapeutic advantages too and is used to treat rheumatic and arthritic pain. Decoctions prepared with the roots of the herb are effective in treating skin conditions such as eczema and itchiness. Even infusions prepared with the soapwort parts above the ground helps in washing the skin and bringing relief from irritations.

The entire soapwort plant, barring the root, possesses alternative, gentle diuretic, diaphoretic, chalogogue, antiscrophulatic, and depurative, expectorant, tonic, laxative as well as sternutatory properties. A decoction prepared using the entire plant may be applied topically for treating skin itchiness. In addition, it has been proved that soapwort is effective for treating jaundice as well as other different visceral obstructions. However, in contemporary herbal medicine, this plant is seldom used internally because it causes irritation to the digestive system.

Soapwort (Saponaria Officinalis) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Soapwort (Saponaria Officinalis) plant

Excessive use of soapwort not only devastates the red blood cells (erythrocytes), but also paralyzes the vasomotor center. The root of soapwort is unearthed during spring and may be dried up and stored for future use. One saponin present in the soapwort plant has generated a lot of interest in cancer treatment - in laboratory tests (in vitro) it has been found that this saponin is cytotoxic to a form of cancer called Walker Carcinoma. Soapwort has been granted the German Commission E Monograph, a remedial guide to herbal remedies, indication for bronchitis and coughs.

Boiling the soapwort plant in water, particularly the root, yields a type of soap, which is a mild cleaner that is especially used to clean delicate fabrics which may be damaged when they are washed with the present-day synthetic soaps. It is worth mentioning here that this soap has been utilized to cleanse the Bayeaux tapestry. Use of this herbal soap brings a shine to the fabrics. The best quality soap can be obtained when you infuse the soapwort plant in tepid water. The roots of this plant may be dried up and stored for use afterward. 

Occasionally, herbalists prescribe the use of soapwort in the form of a hair shampoo. However, using this plant as a shampoo may cause irritation to the eyes. As the soapwort plant spreads very rapidly, it may be utilized in the form of a ground cover. For this use, the soapwort needs to be planted at a distance of one meter from one another.

In manufacturing, soapwort is used as an ingredient in soaps, herbal shampoos, and detergents.

Soapwort is used as a foaming agent in beer.

Soapwort (Saponaria Officinalis) Side effects

Soapwort (Saponaria Officinalis) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Soapwort (Saponaria Officinalis) image

The soapwort plant encloses saponins. Notwithstanding the fact that saponins are toxic, our body does not absorb them in large amounts and they are excreted without resulting in any harm to us. In addition, saponins disintegrate when they are cooked. Several plants, counting many that are used in the form of foods - for instance, beans, contain saponins. Hence, consuming foods containing saponins in excess is not recommended. Although saponins do not cause much harm to humans, they are much more toxic to a number of creatures like fish. It may be mentioned that many tribes that survive by hunting have traditionally added large amounts of saponins in lakes and streams with a view to stagger or kill fish. It is advisable that you should never use soapwort for over two weeks.

Soapwort seems safe for most people when used on the skin. There are no reported side effects when soapwort is used in soaps and shampoos.

Soapwort might be safe when taken by mouth. However, soapwort can cause some side effects including stomach irritation, nausea, and vomiting.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of soapwort during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Stomach or intestinal disorders such as ulcers or inflammatory bowel disease: soapwort can make these conditions worse. Don’t use it if you have stomach or intestinal problems.