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Reetha: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

Sapindus Mukorossi

Reetha is a herbal medicinal plant that has powerful detoxifying properties mentioned in Ayurveda. Reetha grows on the hills of the Himalayas, and each tree delivers around 35 kg of fruit per year. The roots and bark of Reetha are usually bitter and astringent, but they possess excellent medicinal properties such as expectorant and anthelmintic.

In Ayurvedic scripture, it is mentioned that Reetha is a perfect medicine used for treating skin disorders and psychiatric disorders. There are different names of Reetha, such as Soap nut, Wash nut, and Soapberry. In Ayurveda, it is known as Arishtak and commonly known as “Soap nut tree” in India.

The traditional primary use of Reetha is a hair cleanser. Due to the cleansing property of Reetha, it is used in making formulations that are used as hair care products for maintaining hair shiny, lustrous, and healthy. Reetha can be used daily as it is beneficial to promote hair regrowth and to provide nourishment to the hair scalp. Generally, for hair massage before the head bath, Reetha powder is mixed with warm water to get a thick paste, and then it is applied to the hair; this will help manage dandruff. Reetha has excellent insecticidal properties.

The greying of hair can be prevented when the mixture of powder of Amla and Reetha is mixed and then applied to the hair, and this mixture also supports better hair growth. As per Ayurveda, the Reetha has Tridosha property (Vatta Pitta Kaph balancing property), and this is beneficial in managing the skin infections such as psoriasis, eczema, and pimples. The Kadha prepared from Reetha is also helpful in a wound cleanser, and thereby it promotes wound healing to stop the further secondary infections.

Sources of Reetha

Reetha is grown in tropical countries like India, Nepal, and China. It is also a grown in Western coastal Maharashtra, such as Konkan, and Goa as a cash crop.

Other Names for Reetha

There are different names of Reetha as given below,

  • It is known as Ritha in Hindi.
  • In Telugu, it is known as Kunkudukaya chettu.
  • In Kannada, it is known as Antuvala kayi.
  • In Tamil, it is known as Pannankottai.
  • In Malayalam, it is known as Cavakkay.
  • In Oriya and Bengali, it is known as Ritha.
  • In Farsi, it is known as Funaake.
  • In Sanskrit, it is known as Rakhtbeejin.

Chemical constituents of Reetha

All parts of the Reetha are rich in phenolic acids like protocatechuic acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, cis -P-coumaric acid, and cinnamic acid. The major proximate components of the fruits are sugars (10%), saponins (11.5%), and mucilaginous polysaccharides. The Saponin is extracted using a simple solvent extraction process.

Reetha seeds contain different fatty acids such as arachidic, behenic, oleic, linoleic, palmitic, stearic, sapindic acid, and oleanolic acid. Reetha seeds also contain trifluoride A, glucopyranosides of stigmasterol, sapindiside (C, D, E), hederagenin, kaempferol, Beta-sitosterol, quercetin, starch, protein, and carbohydrate. The pericarp of Reetha contains genins, methyl oleanolic, and methylhedragenate.

Health benefits of Reetha

Reetha is majorly used for a healthier scalp, treating migraines, treating respiratory problems, and treating eczema.

Reetha and hair health

  • Reetha is majorly used in the preparation of hair supplements due to its unique effects on the scalp.
  • Reetha infusion is used in Ayurvedic Hair Care products. It acts as a natural ingredient-based alternative to chemically driven cleansing agents, which irritates the scalp.
  • The dried powder prepared using the fruit of Reetha is an essential component in preparing shampoos, hair care products, and cleaning agents due to its potent antiseptic and antimicrobial properties.
  • Saponin is a natural surfactant present in a rich amount of Reetha fruit, and this component acts as a perfect foaming agent that helps clean dust, dirt, and oil present in the hair.
  • The vitamins present in Saponin improve the hair’s lust and reduce scalp dryness, which helps make the hair look voluminous and silky.
  • Reetha extracts also help in strengthening the hair roots.

Reetha for skin health

  • The saponins present in Reetha is an excellent ingredient that has a superb cleansing property, and thus it is used in making soap and face wash.
  • The mixture of Reeth and besan flour prepared in water is applied to all parts of the skin, and it helps improve the skin glow and sustenance.
  • Due to the perfect moisturizing property of Reetha, it keeps the skin hydrated and prevents the excessive drying of the skin, which further helps make the skin look radiant.
  • Reetha fruit has powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which help treat skin disorders such as psoriasis, acne, and eczema.

Reetha and intestinal worms

  • Consumption of Reetha powder or supplements helps enhance the digestive fire, which is ideal for destroying the worms.
  • The worms get killed or reduced due to the Tikta (bitter) and Tikshna (sharp) properties of Reetha supplements.

Reetha For eczema

  • Reetha helps to reduce the chances of skin itching and inflammation due to its Tridosha balancing property.

Reetha For obesity

  • Reetha has Ushna (hot) and Tikshna (sharp) property, which is beneficial in weight control.
  • Reetha is very helpful in improving metabolism and clears the blockage in the circulatory system to the toxins from the body.

Reetha For wound healing

  • Taking Reetha decoction is beneficial in cleaning the wound.
  • The decoction of Reetha has Tikshna property, which helps in accelerating the healing process to stop or retard further secondary infections.

Reeth as an insecticide

  • The unhealthy hair has Lice which are tiny insects that reside on the scalp, and they get fully function during excess sweat and dirt on the scalp. Reetha shampoo, due to its cleansing property, helps reduce them.
  • Reetha contains Saponin, which has natural cleansing properties, and it is suitable for cleansing hair, skin, and clothing.
  • The saponins also act as an insecticide, and this helps remove head lice from the scalp.
Product Preparation Dosage/Day
Powder Take one teaspoon of Reetha powder and mix with the rose water. Apply the paste on the skin. Wash the skin with fresh water. Two times
Paste Take one teaspoon of Reetha powder and add sufficient water to it. Apply the Reetha paste on the hair and allow it to stand for 5 hrs. Wash the hairs thoroughly with water. Two times
Decoction Take two teaspoons of Reetha powder and add two glass of water to it. Boil the mixture for some time. Filter the boiled mixture and use it as a body wash.

Side effects and Precautions While Using Reetha

  • Reetha powder is not recommended for pregnant women as it may lead to abortion due to its generative heat property.
  • A high dose of Reetha is not recommended due to its burning sensation in the stomach.
  • Proper precaution is taken when using Reetha as it has an insecticidal property which indirect contact with the eyes leads to swollen eyelids.


Is it helpful during snakes or scorpion bites?

Yes, Reetha paste is very effective when applied on snake or scorpion bite region. Reetha has potent anti-venom properties, and this is very beneficial in removing the snake and scorpion venom from the body. The powder of Reetha is mixed with an equal amount of jaggery and consumed to reduce the adverse effect of poison.

Is Reetha powder beneficial for asthma?

Yes, Reetha powder is very beneficial in asthmatic conditions. Reetha powder has powerful emetic, astringent, and anthelmintic properties. It is very effective in curing and easing asthmatic symptoms. To get instant relief from breathing problems, the inhalation of ground Reetha is very effective.

Is Reetha helpful in treating arthritis patients?

Yes, Reetha supplements are used to treat arthritis patients. Reetha has substantial anti-inflammatory properties, and it is suitable for muscle pain, alleviating joint, and lessen edema. Reetha is also rich in natural antioxidants that help lower the risk of chronic disorder or diseases and helps to strengthen the immune system to inhibit the growth of E.Coli and Salmonella.


Reetha is commonly known as soapnut, which is a powerful Ayurvedic herb. Reetha is good for maintaining skin and hair health which is available everywhere. Reetha has several pharmacological properties. Reetha, due to its cleansing property, is used in making skin and hair formulations.

Read more about: 6 Simple Exercises To Improve Your Lung Health

 The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a health care professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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