History of Soapwort Extract
Soapwort Extract was originally native to northern Europe and was introduced to England during the Middle Ages by Franciscan and Dominican monks who brought it as “a gift of God intended to keep them clean.”
By the end of the 16th century the herb had become widespread in England, where it was used as a soap for cleansing dishes and laundry. John Gerard's Herbal (1597) recommended it as a topical disinfectant for “green wounds” and “filthy diseases.” Soapwort Extract also has been administered topically for the treatment of acne, psoriasis, eczema and boils. An extract of the roots is still a popular remedy for poison ivy. While an exact time of its arrival in North America cannot be established, there is little doubt that the Puritans brought it with them to the New World. Once established, the herb spread and can now be found wild throughout the United States and southern Canada.
The herb was used extensively in the early textile industry as a cleaning and sizing agent. This process, known as fulling, accounts for the name “Fuller's Herb.” Another use for the product was found by the Pennsylvania Dutch who used it to impart a foamy head to the beer they brewed. To this day some beer makers use saponins from the plant, to provide and maintain a foamy head.