Luffa is a herbaceous plant of the pumpkin family, which has 50 species. It occurs in tropical, subtropical regions of Asia and Africa. Ripe fruits of the plant are used for the manufacture of plant sponges and washcloths designed to remove dead skin particles and good skin massage. In addition, the loofah is a filter element that is installed in ship's boiler plants to purify water from large inclusions (sand, scale). Seeds of grassy vines contain 25% of the oil on the basis of which soap is made.
Young unripe fruits of the pointed ribbed and Egyptian loofah can be eaten as vegetables. In addition, drugs are made from them aimed at combating sexually transmitted diseases.
In 100 g of unripe luffa fruits, 20 kcal is concentrated. The main part of the product is water, so it is recommended to use it in diet food in the fight for a beautiful slim body.
The vegetable contains phosphorus, iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, fatty acids, beta-carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, choline, tocopherol, pantothenic and folic acid. It is used as a hemostatic agent.
How to make a washcloth
First of all, you need to purchase the fruits of the loofah in a specialized store or collect from the garden. The stiffness of the washcloth directly depends on their degree of maturity. Unripe fruits provide a soft structure to the product. If they are not torn off in a timely manner, and a small “tail” is formed at the end, the washcloth from such raw materials will turn out to be very stiff and can irritate the skin. Loofah fruits are usually harvested slightly immature in late September and early October.
Before making washcloths, the raw materials are dried for two weeks in a well-ventilated place. A characteristic feature of the "readiness" of the material for work is the rustling of seeds inside the fetus during inversion.
The sequence of work on the creation of washcloths:
- soak the fetus in water for 2.5 hours;
- trim ends, peel from the side;
- Scrape the remains of seeds, fibers with a knife or a hard brush;
- rinse the fetus twice in a warm soap solution;
- dry in a well-ventilated area;
- form pieces that are convenient in size;
- tie the ropes.
Luffa sponge does not cause irritation, it is hypoallergenic, so it can be used by people with sensitive dermis. It cleans the pores well, stimulates blood circulation and therefore, it is used in medical practice for anti-cellulite, lymphatic drainage massage.
A very hard washcloth can be softened with boiling water and vinegar. Before use, place it in acidified hot water for 7 minutes, then rinse. For 500 ml of boiling water you will need 5 ml of vinegar. To use a washcloth for the face, a similar procedure is performed twice. For rough skin of legs it does not need to be softened.
The main condition when using a loofah washcloth is not to harm the body. It is not recommended to intensively massage her skin. Due to the rigid structure, it easily removes the upper layer of the dermis and, with excessive pressure, can scratch it, leading to the formation of wounds on the body. To soften the effect of the loofah, oil / body cream or shower gel is applied to its surface.
It is not recommended to use hard washcloths together with aggressive citrus essential extracts or cosmetics enriched with a large amount of vitamin C.
Do not use a natural loofah sponge more than 2 times a week. To stimulate blood circulation, each section of the body is "worked out" from bottom to top in circular motions for 30 seconds. After peeling with a washcloth, the skin is lubricated with cosmetic milk / oil or a moisturizer.
To avoid the development of pathogens on the surface and inside the sponge, each time after use, it is thoroughly washed with soap under running water, dried on a battery or in another warm, dry place.
Advantages over synthetic washcloths
Loofah products are used in cosmetology for anti-cellulite cleansing procedures. With regular use (2 times a week for 3 months) they allow you to break down fat deposits in the subcutaneous tissue, thereby reducing their severity in problem areas of the body: buttocks, hips and abdomen.
Advantages of a loofah washcloth:
- a high degree of rigidity, which makes it possible to use it for peeling and anti-cellulite massage;
- long service life (does not crumble, does not crumble);
- hypoallergenic (does not cause skin reactions);
- improves blood circulation, which contributes to the production of collagen and elastin;
- reduces the manifestations of the "orange peel";
- cleanses the dermis from dead epithelial cells;
- stimulates the penetration of oxygen into cells, thereby increasing skin tone.
Based on the principles of hygiene, it is recommended to change the washcloth once every half a year.
In nature, there are more than 50 types of loofahs, among which only 2 cultures have gained the most popularity: cylindrical loofah and pointed ribbed loofah. Other varieties are inappropriate to grow due to small fruits.
Luffa pointed or granular
The habitat is India and Pakistan. It is an annual vine, 5 m long with pentahedral stems, large lobed or charcoal leaves. Luffa is attached to the support using a branched antennae. Flowers are dioecious, small, pale yellow, collected in inflorescences of 20 pcs. The fruits are club-shaped with protruding longitudinal ribs, diameter up to 10 cm, length up to 30 cm. To taste, the flesh resembles a cucumber, juicy and slightly sweet. As it ripens, it dries, acquires a fibrous structure. When the fetus has ripened, a so-called rigid “sponge” is formed from interwoven bundles. The seeds are wrinkled, yellowish-black in color, numerous, oblate-ovate configuration.
Luffa cylindrical or egyptian
Distributed in countries with subtropical, tropical climates. This is an annual liana with palmate-five-lobed leaves, bright yellow flowers collected in inflorescences of 15 pcs. The fruits are cylindrical, smooth, without ribs, reach 10 cm in diameter and 50 cm in length (sometimes more). Seeds are oblate-ovate with a border up to 1 mm wide.
Young fruits (up to 15 cm in length) of the granular and Egyptian loofah are eaten. They are eaten raw or cooked (boiled, stewed, preserved). Ripe seeds are fried and consumed as sunflower seeds. In addition, they are used in the cosmetics industry for the production of lipsticks.
Shoots, buds, flowers, young leaves of the plant are suitable for food. A sponge made from dried fruits is used for technical purposes as a filler for mattresses, an insulating material, a filter, material for making washcloths, hats and rugs.
Cultivation and care
Cultivating loofah is a lucrative occupation. From 20 bushes, plants can be prepared up to 800 natural washcloths of various sizes. With proper placement and good care, it turns out to remove a high crop.
For planting, it is recommended to purchase a grade of "Luffa cylindrical", which is well suited for the production of washcloths. The growing technology resembles the method of cultivating cucumbers. The plant is hygrophilous, does not tolerate transplantation, does not bear fruit well with a thickened planting.
- Sow seeds in March-April in separate peat cups. Before seedlings appear, the ambient temperature should be at least 25 degrees. Watch out for soil moisture. When seedlings appear, the glasses are moved to a cool place for 40 days, where the temperature regime is maintained at 15-18 degrees.
- Seedlings begin to harden when the favorable conditions for growth become (nights will become warm) and they are planted from the south side in open ground.
The plant is sensitive to soil. Productivity of the species depends on the nutritional value of the land. Luffa loves loose, light soil. Therefore, the site for the culture is prepared in advance. In autumn, ash and humus are introduced into it.
- Make a hole, fill up manure, mix with the ground, transplant seedlings with a lump of soil, where the roots of the plant are concentrated.
- The distance between the vines should be at least 1.5 m. The plant grows rapidly, thickening the planting. As a result, if you do not observe the luffa distance, it will not give a good crop.
Remember, the root system of the creeper is superficial, so it is better to install the support for the plant immediately, and as the growth grows, send shoots along the arch, arbor or stretch nets.
- When the loofah reaches 5 m in height, the middle branch is attached. This will increase the yield of the plant.
- Top dressing is applied once every 2-4 weeks, based on the calculation of 0.5 l of ash and 1 l of mullein per bucket of water. Make sure that the earth does not dry out, but waterlogging should also not be allowed.
Interestingly, as the fruits ripen, the loofah dries out, decreases in weight. Harvest must be removed before lowering the ambient temperature at night less than 10 degrees, even if they are still green. The ripened shell of the plant indicates the ripeness of the loofah.
Application in traditional medicine
The fruits and seeds of the Egyptian loofah showed antimicrobial potential and antioxidant effect. The juice of the plant is indicated for use internally to combat jaundice, as well as externally for the treatment of animal bites and disinfection of ulcers.
Seeds are classified as laxatives and emetics, and fruits are sedatives, diuretics, and dietary products.
In India, Iraq, Iran, the roots of the plant are used from dropsy. In Bangladesh, a decoction of leaves is prescribed for people suffering from uremia, amenorrhea, hemorrhoids and leprosy. Seed oil improves the condition of the skin, is used for dermatitis. In West Africa, leaf juice is used to wash eyes with conjunctivitis. In Mauritius, seeds are eaten to suppress the growth of worms.
To maintain beauty
Luffa is used not only in culinary, traditional medicine and household products, it is an indispensable product in cosmetology, on the basis of which moisturizing masks, tonic lotions and cleansers are prepared to care for normal and oily skin. Before performing the procedure, dust, dirt, and fat deposits accumulated during the day are thoroughly washed off the surface of the dermis.
To prepare a moisturizing mask for the face, hands, decollete, the luffa leaves (2 pcs) are crushed, honey (5 ml), olive oil (2 drops) are added to the green smoothie. The resulting mass is applied to the skin for 10 minutes, then washed off, nourished with cream.
To create a lotion that restores the ph of the skin and whitens the face, juice is squeezed from the leaves and stems of the vegetable, which should be wiped daily with the dermis.
Luffa is a technical plant of the pumpkin family. Homeland of vegetable culture - Oceania, India and Africa. Loofah fruits are used for technical purposes (for the production of soaps and washcloths, mechanical purification of water), and the food industry. The buds, flowers, leaves and shoots of the plant are consumed fresh or fried. Based on them, moisturizing face masks and tonics are prepared.
Fruits are consumed exclusively in an unripe form, while they have a soft, juicy, watery pulp. Like any product, the vegetable is stored in the refrigerator on the bottom shelf for a maximum of 3 days. As it ripens, it changes the color of the shell (from green to yellow), dries, acquires a characteristic hardness. This feature of exotic fruits is used for the production of natural washcloths. They have an unlimited shelf life and are hypoallergenic. Luffa sponge improves blood circulation, evens skin color, exfoliates dead cells, reduces the severity of stretch marks and cellulite.