Loofah sponge or skin brush, widely used for cleaning the body. The plant is used for food and has a range of traditional medicinal uses. It is often cultivated in tropical regions of the world.
It originates in Africa and grows in other few tropical countries.
The loofah is an astringent, pain-killing herb that controls bleeding, promotes healing, improves circulation and milk flow. It acts mainly on the lungs, liver and stomach.
The fruits are used internally in the treatment of rheumatism, chest pains, backache, orchitis, haemorrhoids, internal bleeding and insufficient lactation. Externally, it is applied to shingles and boils.
The dried fruits are used as abrasive sponges in skin care to remove dead skin and stimulate the peripheral circulation.
Other Uses: The mature fruit is dried and the fibrous remains used as a skin brush for washing. The sponges are prepared by steeping the mature fruit in running water until the skin and seed contents have been washed away. The dried fruit is also used to make items such as scrubbing pads to clean plates, pots etc; filters; table mats; insoles; sponges; sandals; shock-absorbing materials; and gloves.
Edible Uses Fruit: raw or cooked. Young fruits can be eaten in salads like cucumber. They are also used in soups, curries etc The fruit is best picked young, when about 10cm long, and used like courgettes.
A cooking oil is obtained from the seed.