Soapwort is most well-known for creating a foamy lather that has gentle cleansing properties. In fact, soapwort is one of the most concentrated sources of compounds called saponins in the world, which studies suggest fight bacteria, inflammation and have astringent properties.
Some records show soapwort may have been used as a washing agent for over 12,000 years, dating back to the Stone Age! It’s believed that people living at this time used plants like soapwort that grew nearby streams to help wash their hands, hair and skin.
The plant’s flowers have a strong, pleasant smell, while the plant’s roots give off sap that is used to create a natural soap or cleanser when combined with water. Uses for soapwort’s sap include washing delicate fabrics that can’t stand withstand commercial soaps or cleaners and creating a mild skin cleanser that is usually suitable for sensitive and/or irritated skin.
Cleanses and Soothes Sensitive Skin: Soapwort contains compounds called saponins that can be combined with water to create a foaming, lathery skin wash that is generally non-irritating and non-drying, even when used on delicate skin.
Research suggests that saponins have benefits including killing harmful bacteria and parasites, supporting healthy cholesterol levels, fighting oxidative stress and inhibiting tumor growth. The roots of soapwort have high levels of saponins compared to other plants, which is what allows soapwort wash to lather so well.
Soapwort can be applied directly to the skin on an ongoing basis to treat chronic skin conditions.Externally, a decoction made from finely
sliced rhizomes, or an extract made from the fresh aerial parts of the
plant, are used as a wash or added to bath water as a relief for
various skin disorders, such as pruritus, itching, psoriasis, eczema, boils and acne, and as a mouthwash to treat fungal infections in the mouth.
Fights Respiratory Infections: Soapwort has traditionally been used to treat swollen airways and respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, asthma coughs and inflammation of the lungs that leads to trouble breathing.
The saponins in soapwort have a slight irritating effect on the respiratory and digestive system, so it stimulates the fluid secretion of the bronchi. Soapwort also enhances the production and excretion of bile from the liver and gallbladder and it has been used as a natural treatment for constipation and bile duct diseases.
One of the saponins found in the plant has been shown in laboratory
tests (in vitro) to be cytotoxic to a special form of cancer known as
Helps to Cleanse Hair: The leaf, roots and stem of the soapwort plant can be boiled to make a mild low-lather shampoo that removes grease/oil and residue from the hair. While it’s usually non-irritating, some people may experience dryness or redness on the scalp when using soapwort shampoo, so it’s best to first test your reaction to soapwort shampoo by only using a small amount every other day or so. Other ingredients that can be added to soapwort shampoo to cleanse and nourish hair include: tea tree oil, honey, frankincense oil, lemon oil, lavender oil and coconut oil.
Acts As a Natural Detergent (Including for Wool, Fleece and Lace): Soapwort can be used to make a frothy liquid that helps to cleanse delicate fabrics, such as wool and fleece, without ruining them. It does this by retaining some of the natural lanolin found on wool. Some also use soapwort to waterproof wool and fleece, making them more resilient to damage caused by water exposure.
A natural soap can be made by boiling the dried and crushed root for half an hour in water. The saponins present in the plant
lower the surface tension of the water resulting in a foamy, soapy
solution which can be used for cleaning. After the stems boil, allow them to cool and then strain the liquid out,
which will have soapy properties. Use the soap within about one week,
since it doesn’t last very long.
Growing conditions: Soapwort prefers well composted soil and excellent drainage. Part sun with some afternoon shade is best. Soapwort grows to approx 2 feet high.
Harvest: The root of soapwort is unearthed during autumn and may be dried up and stored for future use. Collect the leaves and stems when the plants are in full flower for optimal saponin content.
Culinary Uses of Soapwort:This obscure seasoning serves as an emulsifier for commercial tahini halvah, a favorite Middle Eastern sweet composed of crushed sesame seeds, sugar, and flavorings.
Cautions: Some people may experience irritation to the eyes and skin, so patch test a small area first. Not to be consumed in large quantities.The herb should not be used by pregnant
and breastfeeding women.
All our herbs are organically grown in a recycled or compostable pot.