Shikakai proven beauty and health benefits

Scientific names Common names
Acacia concinna (WIlld.) DC. Acacia (Tag.)
Acacia hooperiana Miq. Shikakai plant (Engl.)
Acacia philippinarum Benth. Soap acacia (Engl.)
Acacia poilanei Gagnep. Soap pod (Engl.)
Acacia polycephala DC. Soap pod wattle (Engl.)
Acacia quisumbingii Merr. Soap nut (Engl.)
Acacia rugata (Lam.) Merr. Soap nut acacia (Engl.)
Guilandina microphylla DC.
Mimosa concinna Willd.
Mimosa rugata Ham.
Nygae sylvarum-minimae Rumph.
Acacia is a name shared by many species of Philippine plants, both scientific and common names: (1) Acacia concinna, acacia, a prickly shrub found in La Union, Benguet, and Ilocos Sur provinces of northern Luzon (2) Albizzia lebbect, acaci, langil, mimosa (3) Samanea saman, rain tree, acacia, for Acacia concinna (4) Acacia farnesiana, aroma (5) Acacia glauca, ipil-ipil (6) Acacia niopo, kupang, and (7) Acacia crassicarpa.
Acacia concinna (Willd.) DC. is an accepted name The Plant List


Other vernacular names
ASSAMESE: Amsikira, Kachuai, Pasoi tenga, Suse lewa.
BENGALI: Ban ritha, Ritha, Riitha.
BURMESE: Hpak-ha Sum-hkawn, Kin-mun, Kinmun-gyin.
CHINESE: Xiao he huan, Teng jin he huan, rou guo jin he huan.
FRENCH: Chikakai, Piquant sappan, Sappan.
GERMAN: Shikekai-Baum.
GUJARATI: Shikakai.
HINDI: Cikakai, Hikakai, Kochi, Righa, Ritha, Saatalaa, Shika, Shikakai.
JAPANESE: Akashia konshina.
MALAYALAM: Carmalanta, Carmalantala, Chikaka, Chinikka.
MARATHI: Shikakai, Reetah.
ORIYA: Vimala.
RUSSIAN: Akatsiia konsinna, Saptala, Shikakay.
SANSKRIT: Bahuphenarasa, Bhuriphena, Carmasava, Charmakansa, Charmakasa, Phenila, Saptala.
SRI LANKAN: Siyakkai.
TAMIL: Cikkay, Ciyakkay, Shika, Shikakai, Shikai, Shikaikkay.
TELUGU: Chikaya, Gogu, Shiikaya, Siikaya.
THAI: Sohm bpaawy, Som poy, Som kon.

shikakai Acacia Concinna

Shikakai, or soap nut or Acacia concinna is a scandent, prickly shrub reaching a height of 4 to 5 meters. Branches are gray and armed with short, sharp prickles. Leaves are pinnately compound, 15 to 25 centimeters long, and with 8 to 10 pairs of pinnae. Rachis has one gland near the base, and one of two near the apex. Leaflets number 20 to 32 pairs on each pinnae, are linear-oblong, 8 to 10 millimeters in length, with a pointed tip and subtruncate base. Midrib is oblique. Panicles are terminal, in the upper axils, and ample. Heads are yellow, about 1 centimeter in diameter. Pods are straight, somewhat fleshy, flat, 7 to 10 centimeters long, and about 2 centimeters wide.


– In Benguet, La Union, and Ilocos Sur Provinces in Luzon, in thickets at low and medium altitudes.

– Also occurs in India to southern China and Malaya.

Chemical constituents of Shikakai or soap nut

– Soft parts of the dried berries contain 5% saponin.

– Pods have yielded several saponins including kinmoonosides A-C, triterpenoidal prosapogenols names concinnosides A, B, C, D and E with four glycosides, acaciaside, julibroside A1, albiziasaponin C and their aglycone, acacic acid lactone.

– Phytochemical screening of the plant yielded flavanoids, saponins, terpenoids and tannins.

Medicinal Properties of Shikakai or soap nut

– Pod is acid, bitter, and singularly pungent; considered deobstruent, astringent and detergent.

– Studies have suggested antibacterial, antifungal, antithrombotic, antioxidant, antidermatophytic, contraceptive, hepatoprotective properties.

Parts used


shikakai Acacia ConcinnaUses
Folkloric traditional medicinal benefits and use of Shikakai or soap nut

– Pods used as deobstruent in cases of jaundice and other biliary derangements.

– Decoction of pods used for biliousness and as purgative.

– Fruit pods, leaves and bark are dried, powdered and made into paste to make a hair cleanser.

– In India and Sri Lanka, decoction of pods used for washing the hair to promote hair growth and remove dandruff.

– In Thailand, dried pods use as laxative, antidandruff, antitussive and for skin diseases.

– In Myanmar, India, and Thailand, leaves used to prevent diabetes and skin diseases.

shikakai Acacia ConcinnaOther uses

Cosmetic: Ingredient in many cosmetic products.

Scientific studies on the benefits and uses of Shikakai or soap pod

Antidermatophytic/ prevent skin, hair, and/or nails against fungal infections:

Study pod extracts (ethanol, ethyl acetate, and hexane extracts) showed significant antidermatophytic activity against Trichophyton rubrum, T. mentagrophytes, T. violaceum, Microsporum nanum and Epidermophyton floccosum. (1)

Immunological Adjuvant Activity / Vaccine Adjuvant:

Study of methanolic fractions showed Th1 and Th2 helper cell activity. At dose of 40 ug it can be used as a vaccine adjuvant to increase immune responses. (5)

Protects liver /Hepatoprotective:

An ethanolic extract of pods of Acacia concinna showed significant protective activity in a CCl4-induced liver damage model. (3)

Antifungal :

Study of extracts was done against 35 isolates of dermatophytes and isolates of C. albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans and Penicillium marneffei. Results showed antifungal effectiveness.


The benzene, methanol and aqueous extracts of fresh pods of A. concinna showed maximum activity against K. pneumonia, B. subtilis, E. coli. (6)


Study in female rats fed with fraction of AE of Acacia concinna showed arrest in the diestrus stage, reduction in pregnancy and implantation, depletion in FSH, LH and estrogen levels. Results showed the acerone fraction of aqueous extract of Acacia concinna can be used as herbal contraceptive without any undesirable side effect. (7)

New Cytotoxic Saponins / Kimoonosides: Study yielded three saponins, kinmoonosides A-C together with a monoterpenoids from a methanolic extract. The three kinmoonosides showed significant cytotoxicity against human HT-11080 fibrosarcoma cells. (8)

Volatile Compounds:

Study for volatile compounds yielded fatty acids as main constituents, such as palmitic and linoleic acid with rather high amount of furfural and 5-methyl-2-furfural. Esters identified were methyl salicylate, methyl palmitate, isopropyl palmitate, and linalool oxide. The compounds may contribute to the aroma of Som Poy. (11)

Insecticidal / Ovicidal:

Study evaluated the larvicidal and ovicidal activity of extracts of seeds and leaves of Acacia concinna and seeds and flowers of Butea monosperma against Hyblaea puera. Results showed the methanol extract of seeds and EA extract of seeds and leaves were most effective of all extracts with a 100% egg hatch inhibition. (12)

Siyakkai Hair Wash for Pityriasis capitis:

Sri Lankan use Siyakkai (Acacia concinna) hair wash as home remedy for Pityriasis capitis. Placebo-controlled study evaluated the efficacy of the hair wash prepared from 10g of powdered pods of A. concinna to 240ml of boiled water. Patients treated with SHW showed symptomatic relief in scaling, itching, dryness, and greasiness of scalp after treatment. (14)

Antioxidant / Anti-Thrombotic:

Eight plants including Acacia concinna were evaluated for antioxidant and anti-thrombotic activities. Five out of eight plants, including A. concinna, exhibited more than 85% inhibition against collagen induced platelet aggregation. Results suggest A. concinna have potential for development as an anti-thrombosis agent. A. concinna yielded polyphenol contents of 78.4±2.4 mg/g GAE and 7.8 % GAE, with DPPH IC50 of 0.35±0.018 mg/ml and IC50 Superoxide 0.30±0.013 mg/ml. (15)

Surfactant Type Catalyst / Pods:

Study reports on a simple, efficient, and environmentally benign protocol for the synthesis of 3-carboxycoumarins and cinnamic acids via Knoevenagel condensation using aqueous extract of Acacia concinna pods as a naturally occurring surfactant type catalyst. (16)


Study evaluated six Thai plant species for antioxidant activities. Tamarindus indica, Acacia concinna, and Bauhinia malabarica exhibited the most potent inhibition effect on the formation of Heinz body by acetyl phenylhydrazine. A. concinna could inhibit up to 1:40 dilution. (17)

Novel Anti-Hepatitis C Vrus Inhibitors:

Study investigated the development of HCV replication inhibitors by the volatile compounds extracted from Acacia concinna which is follow by molecular docking against NS5B polymerase. The interaction of the extracted compounds showed their antiviral properties against SC5BP which could be used in further analysis for inhibition of HCV replication. (18)



Shikakai powder and shampoo in the cybermarket.

Click here to find the links of all the source studies mentioned in this article.

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