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August 12, 2009

Soap Grows on Trees. [Maggie’s Soap Nuts.]

by Sarah Miller
Call me melodramatic, but Maggie’s Soap Nuts have changed my life. 5-6 soapy nuts get tossed in a muslin sack that I add to my laundry wash (they can be reused for up to five loads and then get tossed in my compost pile.) These “nuts” are actually the dried fruit of the Chinese Soapberry tree and contain saponin, a natural cleaner that has been used for thousands of years to clean clothes (detergents have only been used for 60 years.)

The Soapberry tree (Sapindus spp.) sends its roots back as far as the
time of Buddha.  The fruit of the tree, called Soap “Nuts” are a model
offering from the ancient healing modalities to our modern lifestyles in the realms of cleanliness, aesthetics and medicine…….Soap Nut powder is indicated in Ayurveda as the third in the family of
extremely beneficial fruits, along with shikakai and trifla.  All three are
used extensively in Ayurveda for the treatment of scalp issues such as
hair loss, dandruff, and to alleviate parasites such as lice. (You can
use a solution of Soap Nuts in the garden to repel pests as persistent
as aphids.) In modern India, Soap Nuts are an essential ingredient in
hair care products to increase luster and softness of hair.   The
Soapberry is among the most important trees for beautification in
tropical Asia, aesthetics being an important factor in Ayurveda.
Used topically, Soap Nuts are used to eliminate freckles, fine lines,
chemical stains and cracks in the skin.  They are also used
traditionally to treat mild to moderate skin complaints such as eczema
and psoriasis.  Soap Nuts are safe for people with sensitive skin, even
people who suffer allergic reactions to store bought “sensitive skin”
cleansers.

My clothes come out of the wash clean and soft….I’ve also been making soapnut “tea” for a more concentrated solution. To this, i’ll add lavender essential oils or teatree if i’m washing extra odorific items. I’ve used this on my skin, face and hair as well. And though it doesn’t have a rich lather (or a lather at all) you do get that fresh clean feeling.

I particularly like that Maggie’s is committed to helping rural communities overseas find sustainable means of supporting themselves. Soap nuts are providing families with fair income and prevents the trees from being cut and sold as lumber.

Wow, can we change the world, one load at a time?!

Order online at: Maggies’ Pure Land

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