SoapwortBotanical Name: Saponaria officinalis (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Caryophyllaceae
Synonyms: Soaproot. Bouncing Bet. Latherwort. Fuller's Herb. Bruisewort. Crow Soap. Sweet Betty. Wild Sweet William.
Parts Used: Dried root and leaves.
Habitat: Central and Southern Europe. Grows well in English gardens.
Description: A stout herbaceous perennial with a stem growing in the writer's garden to 4 or 5 feet high. Leaves lanceolate, slightly elliptical, acute, smooth, 2 or 3 inches long and 1/3 inch wide. Large pink flowers, often double in paniculate fascicles; calyx cylindrical, slightly downy; five petals, unguiculate; top of petals linear, ten stamens, two styles; capsule oblong, one-celled, flowering from July till September. No odour, with a bitter and slightly sweet taste, followed by a persistent pungency and a numbing sensation in the mouth.
Constituents: Constituents of the root, Saponin, also extractive, resin, gum, woody fibre, mucilage, etc.
Soapwort root dried in commerce is found in pieces 10 and 12 inches long, 1/12 inch thick, cylindrical, longitudinally wrinkled, outside light brown, inside whitish with a thick bark. Contains number of small white crystals and a pale yellow wood.
Medicinal Action and Uses: A decoction cures the itch. Has proved very useful in jaundice and other visceral obstructions. For old venereal complaints it is a good cure specially where mercury has failed. It is a tonic, diaphoretic and alterative, a valuable remedy for rheumatism or cutaneous troubles resulting from any form of syphilis. It is also sternutatory. Should be very cautiously used owing to its saponin content.
Dose. - Decoction, 2 to 4 fluid ounces three or four times daily. Extract or the inspissated juice will be found equally efficacious: dose, 10 to 20 grains. As a sternutatory 2 to 6 grains. Fluid extract, 1/4 to 1 drachm.