Home Herbal Monograph Soap Nut

The pods are considered,by native practitioners, as a valuable medicine. It is commonly ordered in cases of jaundice and other biliary derangement's, and is used by Indians for washing their hair. It is also noticed that the pods are used by Hindus for making sectarian marks on the forehead. The leaves are used as an acid ingredient instead of tamarind. The bark is used in tanning.


It grows in the tropical jungles of India, especially in the Deccan region.

Morphology Description (Habit)

It is a common, prickly, scandent shrub or thorny climber. Leaves are bipinnate. Yellow flowers are borne in globose and axillary heads. The pods are brown, wrinkled and notched when dry. Seeds are 6-10 in a pod.

Principal Constituents

Saponins, the major constituent in the fruit, is the mixture of Acacin in A, Acacinin B1, Acacinin C, Acacinin D and Acacinin E2.


There is no adverse effect reported on continuous usage of this plant.


The pods known as Shikai or Shikakai, are extensively used as a detergent, and the dry ones are powdered, perfumed and sold in the market as soap nut powder.

  1. Journal of Indian Chem. Soc., 1973, 50. 544; Indian J. Chem., 1976, 14B, 228.
  2. Indian Chem. Soc., 1976, 53, 153.