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M.Tech (Biotechnology), B.Tech
Ayurvedic View By
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Reetha

Reetha
Reetha or Soapnuts is also called as Arishtak in Ayurveda and “Soap nut tree” in India. It is well known for its traditional medicinal uses and is commonly used as a hair cleanser.
Reetha is extensively used to make natural hair care products as it makes hair shiny, healthy and lustrous. It can be used on a daily basis to provide nourishment to the hair scalp and promote hair regrowth. Reetha powder can be mixed with warm water to form a paste which can be used to massage the scalp to help manage dandruff and also remove lice from the scalp due to its insecticidal property. The powder of Amla and Reetha can be applied to the hair to help control greying of hair and also stimulate better hair growth.
You can add Reetha powder to water and boil it till it gets reduced to half and then use it as a body wash as it is good for the skin. As per Ayurveda, it also helps manage skin infections such as eczema, psoriasis and pimples due to its Tridosha property (Vatta Pitta Kaph balancing property). Reetha decoction (Kadha) might also act as a wound cleanser as it accelerates wound healing and stops secondary infections.
It is advisable to avoid the use of Reetha water on sensitive parts such as eyes as it may cause redness and swelling of the eyelids[1-4].

What are the synonyms of Reetha?

Sapindus mukorossi, Haithaguti, Ritha, Aritha, Dodan, Kanmar, Rithe, Thali, Phenila, Urista, Kunkudu, Krishvarn, Arthsaadhan, Rakhtbeej, Peetfan, Phenil, Garbpatan, Guchfaal, Areetha, Ita, Kunkute kayi, Ponnan kottai, Rithegach, Rittha, Dodan, Soapnut tree, Chinese soapberry, Finduk-e-hindi, Haithguti, Funake farasi, Arishtak[1-2].

What is the source of Reetha?

Plant Based

Benefits of Reetha

1. Intestinal Worms
Reetha helps to control intestinal worms. According to Ayurveda, worms are called as Krimi. The growth of worms is encouraged by low Agni (weak digestive fire). Taking Reetha helps to improve the digestive fire and destroy the ideal condition for the growth of worms. It helps to remove worms because of its Tikta (bitter)and Tikshna (sharp) properties.

2. Asthma
Reetha helps to control the symptoms of asthma and gives relief in case of breathlessness. According to Ayurveda, the main doshas involved in asthma are Vata and Kapha. The vitiated ‘Vata’ combines with deranged ‘Kapha dosha’ in the lungs causing obstruction in the respiratory passage. This results in difficulty in breathing. This condition is known as Swas Roga (Asthma). Reetha helps to balance Tridosha and remove excess mucus from the lungs due to its Ushna (hot) nature.

3. Obesity
An increase in weight is due to unhealthy food habits and lifestyle which leads to a weak digestive fire. This increases accumulation of Ama causing an imbalance in Meda dhatu and thus resulting in obesity. Reetha helps to control weight due to its Ushna (hot) and Tikshna (sharp) properties. It also improves metabolism and clears blockage in the circulatory system which helps to remove extra fluid and toxins from the body.

4. Flatulence
Flatulence is caused due to an imbalance of Vata and Pitta dosha. Low Pitta dosha and aggravated Vata dosha results in low digestive fire, thus impairing digestion. Impaired digestion leads to gas formation or flatulence. Reetha helps to correct impaired digestion. It improves Agni (digestive fire) due to Ushna (hot) potency and removes excessive gas because of its Vata balancing property.

Precautions when using Reetha

Advice from Experts
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
1. Take Reetha in recommended dose and duration, as a high dose can lead to a burning sensation in the stomach due to its hot potency.

2. Avoid Reetha or take under medical supervision if you have excessive Pitta in the body.
Breastfeeding
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Avoid Reetha or use under medical supervision during lactation due to its Ushna virya (hot potency).
Pregnancy
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Avoid Reetha or use under medical supervision during pregnancy due to its Ushna virya (hot potency).

Benefits of Reetha

1. Dandruff
According to Ayurveda, dandruff is a condition marked by flakes of dry skin on the scalp. This may be due to an aggravated Vata and Pitta dosha. Reetha helps to control dandruff and promotes hair growth due to its Tridosha balancing property. The Tikshna (sharp) nature of Reetha also helps to keep the scalp dandruff- free.
Tips:
a. Make a paste of Reetha powder with warm water.
b. Apply all over the scalp and hair.
c. Massage well to create lather.
d. Leave for sometime and rinse off with plain water to control dandruff.

2. Skin itching
Itching may be due to dryness (Vat) and can also be due to cyst formation (Kapha). The skin may feel itchy due to excessive sweating (Pitta). This means all the three Doshas (Vat-Pitta-Kapha) are involved in itching. Reetha helps to reduce itching as well as inflammation because of its Tridosha balancing property.
Tips:
a. Take 1-2 teaspoon of Reetha powder.
b. Add to 2-3 glass of water.
c. Boil till the water reduces to half.
d. Strain and use the liquid as a body wash to get rid of itching of skin.

3. Head Lice
Lice are small insects which reside on the scalp. Head lice develop and survive when they get a favorable conditions like excess sweat, dirt on the scalp or any shampoo/soap residue on the scalp. Reetha helps to remove lice by destroying the favorable conditions and cleans the scalp due to its Tikshna (sharp) nature.
Tips:
a. Make a paste of Reetha powder with warm water.
b. Apply all over the scalp and hair.
c. Massage well to create lather.
d. Leave for sometime and rinse off with plain water to get rid of head lice.

4. Arthritis
Reetha helps to manage bone and joint pain when applied to the affected area. According to Ayurveda, the bones and joints are considered a site of Vata in the body. Pain in the joints is mainly due to Vata imbalance. Applying Reetha helps to reduce joint pain due to its Ushan (hot) potency and Vata balancing property.
Tips:
a. Make a paste of Reetha powder with warm water.
b. Apply on the affected area and leave it for 1-2 hours.
c. Rinse off with plain water to get rid of joint pain.

Precautions when using Reetha

Advice from Experts
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
1. Use Reetha(Soapnut) powder after diluting with plain water if your skin is hypersensitive.

2. Avoid the use of Reetha water on sensitive parts like eyes because it may cause redness and swelling of the eyelids.

Recommended Dosage of Reetha

  • Reetha Powder - ½-1 teaspoon or as per your requirement.

How to use Reetha

1. Reetha Powder
a. Take ½-1 teaspoon of Reetha powder.
b. Add some rose water to it and massage gently over the skin.
c. Wash thoroughly with fresh water.
d. Use this remedy 1-2 times a day for effective cleansing of skin.

2. Reetha, Amla & Shikakai Paste
a. Take Reetha, Amla and Shikakai powder.
b. Add some water to form a paste.
c. Apply this paste on hair and wait for 5-6 hours.
d. Wash your hair thoroughly with plain cool water.
e. Use this remedy 1-2 times a week, and continue for 2-3 months for silky, dandruff and lice free hairs.

Frequently asked questions

Q. Can I use Reetha with Amla?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, the powder of Reetha and Amla when used together and applied on the hair and scalp stimulates better hair growth and helps control grey hair.
Tip:
1. Take 1-2 teaspoons of Amla powder.
2. Add 1-2 teaspoons of Reetha powder.
3. Make a smooth paste by adding water to it.
4. Apply evenly on the hair and scalp.
5. Let it sit for 4-5 hours.
6. Rinse thoroughly with tap water.

Q. Where will I find Reetha?

scientific
Modern Science View
Reetha is available in the market in various forms such as Shampoo, Powder, Soapnuts. You can find these products under various brands. Choose the product and brand according to your requirement and liking.

Q. Is it okay to use Reetha (soapnut) every day for hair wash?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, Reetha can be used everyday for hair wash. It is due to its cleansing property that helps to get rid of oily secretions from scalp and also it forms a rich and natural lather[10].

Q. Can Reetha lead to Acidity?

ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Yes, Reetha can cause acidity because of its Ushna (hot) potency.

Q. Is Reetha good for liver?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, Reetha may be good for the liver. It contains certain compounds that protect the liver cells against damage and fat accumulation[6][7].

Q. Can Reetha worsen the wound?

scientific
Modern Science View
No, Reetha decoction is used to clean the wound. It accelerates the healing process and also stops secondary infections due to Tikshna (sharp) property.

Q. Is Reetha good for the skin?

scientific
Modern Science View
Although enough scientific evidence is not available, external application of Reetha may be good for the skin. In traditional medicine, Reetha is used for managing eczema, psoriasis and pimples. It may also be useful in removing freckles, tan and excess oil from the skin[2][6][7].

Q. Is Reetha good for hair?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, Reetha may be good for hair. It can be used as a natural cleanser for washing hair as it contains saponins that act as foaming agents. Reetha may also be useful in managing dandruff and removing lice from the scalp due to its insecticidal property[2][7-9].

Q. Can Reetha be used to manage hair fall?

scientific
Modern Science View
No, Reetha alone is not scientifically proven to control hair fall. It is foaming and cleansing agent due to the presence of saponins which when mixed with water produces natural lather. Therefore, Reetha helps to cleanse hair scalp when used regularly[11].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Reetha helps control hair fall by removing dandruff from the scalp. According to Ayurveda, dandruff is the prime cause of hair fall. It is a condition marked by flakes of dry skin on the scalp. Reetha helps to control dandruff and promotes hair growth due to its Tridosha balancing property. The Tikshna (sharp) nature of Reetha also helps to keep the scalp dandruff- free.
Tip:
1. Make a paste of Reetha powder with warm water.
2. Apply all over the scalp and hair.
3. Massage well to create lather.
4. Leave it for sometime and rinse off with plain water.
5. Repeat once a week to control dandruff and hair fall.

Q. Can Reetha be used with amla and shikakai to get rid of grey hair?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, herbal preparation of Reetha with Amla and Shikakai helps to control grey hair along with some other benefits. Reetha is a foaming agent that helps to clean scalp by providing natural lather. Amla helps in darkening of hair, Reetha provides cleansing action while Shikakai helps to clear dandruff, thus making the scalp healthy[11].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Yes, a combination of Reetha with Amla and Shikakai is useful to manage hair problems like greying of hair. Reetha helps to clean the scalp and Amla has Pitta balancing property which helps to manage the natural color of the hair. Shikakai is also an effective remedy for natural and healthy hair.
Tip
1. Take Reetha, Amla and Shikakai powder.
2. Add some water to form a paste.
3. Apply this paste on hair and wait for 5-6 hours.
4. Wash your hair thoroughly with plain cool water.
5. Use this remedy 1-2 times a week, and continue for 2-3 months for better results.

References

  1. Balkrishnan A.Reetha.Ayurved Jadi Buti Rehsya. Danik Bhaskar.2017
  2. Suhagia BN, Rathod IS, Sindhu S. Sapindus mukorossi (areetha): An overview. int j pharm sci res.2011;2(8):1905-1913.
  3. The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia Of India.Part 1 Volume 1.
  4. Goyal S, Kumar D, Menaria G.Medicinal plants of the genus sapindus (sapindaceae) - a review of their botany, phytochemistry, biological activity and traditional uses.Journal of Drug Delivery & Therapeutics.2014:4(5);7-20.
  5. Shah AH, Dutta k, Deka DC. Fatty acid composition of Sapindus mukorossi seed oil.Adv Appl Sci Res.2014;5(4):43-50.
  6. Ibrahim M, Khaja MN, Aara A, et al.Hepatoprotective activity of Sapindus mukorossi and Rheum emodi extracts: in vitro and in vivo studies.World J Gastroenterol.2008;14(16):2566-71.
  7. Peng Q, Zhang Q, Xiao W et al.Protective effects of Sapindus mukorossi Gaertn against fatty liver disease induced by high fat diet in rats.Biochem Biophys Res Commun.2014;450(1):685-691.
  8. Hazra J, Panda AK.Concept of beauty and ayurveda medicine.J Clin Exp Dermatol Res.2013;4(3):1-4.
  9. Rakesh MR, Ashok K, Kumar SA et al.Formulation of herbal shampoos from Asparagus racemosus, Acacia concin, Sapindus mukorossi.Int J Pharm Sci Rev Res.2010;4(1):30-44.
  10. Upadhyay A, Singh DK. Pharmacological effects of Sapindus mukorossi. Rev. Inst. Med. Trop. Sao Paulo;54(5):273-280.External Link
  11. Gholve S, Nadarge S, Hindole S, et al. Formulation and evaluation of polyherbal antidandruff powder Shampoo.World Journal of Pharmaceutical Research.2015;4(10):1714-1731.External Link
Disclaimer
The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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