What looks like a loofah for your bath-time pleasures, this particular plant can actually be used as a loofah to exfoliate dead skin when it’s dried. Derived from the native tropics of Asia, this vegetable-like fruit is now cultivated all over the world. The health benefits prove this herb is far more advantageous than solely being used as an organic back scrubber.
Botanical Name and Family of Luffa
This special plant is known botanically as Luffa acutangula, L. aegyptiaca, and L. operculata, and belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. Being a distant relative of the cucumber, this fruit can actually be eaten as a vegetable and is sometimes referred to as Loofah and Buttersquash.
What Is Luffa?
Luffa is the fruit that grows on a genus of vines belonging to the cucumber family. This fruit is used as a vegetable in Vietnam and China. On complete ripening, the fruit becomes very fibrous and is used to prepare the loofah scrubbing material that is used while bathing.
There is an impressive range of uses for the luffa plant. Aside from being used for cosmetic reasons, this fruit can actually make a delicious table vegetable. They can be added to salads and placed into soups; it is especially nutritious as a substitute for squash and zucchini.
The active ingredients found in Luffa include triterpene saponins, ceramides, and steroids.
Health Benefits of Luffa
Luffa has been used to prevent and treat colds, nasal swelling and problems related to the sinuses. It has also been used to deal with chest pain, arthritis pain, and muscle pain.
In women, it has been used to restore menstrual periods and increase milk flow in nursing mothers. Powder forms of Luffa are used in skin care products for detoxification of the skin. Research shows Luffa is useful in treating allergic rhinitis and sinusitis.
Different Ways to Use Luffa
Fibers from the mature fruit are boiled in water and used as medicine. They can also be used to make hearty meals and are the perfect substitute for squash, zucchini, and eggplants.
Luffa seeds are emetic and purgative, and the leaves are used by the Chinese in a treatment for various skin diseases. The insides of luffa, when dried, have also been processed to be used for potholders, doormats, gloves, sandals, and stuffing for mattresses.
Side Effects of Luffa
Luffy is most likely safe for most individuals when applied directly onto the skin as a loofah sponge. There isn’t, however, enough evidence to know the side effects of luffa when taken as medicine.
1. Weiser M, Gegenheimer LH, Klein P. A randomized equivalence trial comparing the efficacy and safety of Luffa comp.-Heel nasal spray with cromolyn sodium spray in the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis. Forsch Komplementarmed. 1999 Jun;6(3):142-8. PubMed PMID: 10460983.