The loofah plant is one of the most versatile plant. This vegetable can be used for food, cleaning, and medicinal purposes. Loofah are squashes that grow in different sizes. They are more commonly known for their dried skeleton that make sponges when dried. They are fairly easy to grow in your garden.
Two Species of Loofahs
There are two species of these vegetables. One with ridges and another that is smooth skinned. Ridged (Angled) loofah are commonly mislabeled as Chinese Okra in Asian grocery stores. They are not okras at all and do not taste anything like an okra. The smooth (Egyptian) loofah are larger than the ridged loofah. Both are edible.
Loofahs require trellises to grow properly. Their vines will climb the trellises. Otherwise they will rot when grown on the ground. Since they rot easily, keep them away from moisture. Especially the ridged loofah. In general, horizontal trellises works better than vertical trellises.
Making Sponge from Loofah
Let them mature on the vine and they will brown up and leave a skeleton for the sponge. Once dried, peel the skin off so that all you have left is the skeleton, which will make the sponge. Afterwards shake the seed lose and remove the seed.
Here is a good video to make a sponge
The sponge can be used for many things. They can be shaped into practically anything. People have even made slippers from them. They can be stuffed together to make pillows.
Use #1: Great for Cleaning
Selecting the species will depend on how you plan to use the sponge. Ridged loofah have a stronger and harder skeleton. The smooth loofah have a softer skeleton. The ridged loofah sponges is ideal for cleaning dishes, while the smooth loofah is ideal for body scrub because of the softer skeleton. They are great for bathing and as a facial scrub. Both are great for cleaning or scrubbing and will not scratch surface like metal or glass.
Use #2: As Food – Loofah make a Tasty Dish!
You can eat loofah! They are eaten in many Asian countries. Many classical Chinese dishes are made from loofah with medicinal benefits. As a soup or cook it with meat, it is great tasting that is deliciously sweet.
Add it to miso soup and enhance the flavor.
Loofahs are loaded with vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin K and folates.
Nutritional Chart of Loofah
Use #3: Medicinal Use
For centuries loofah or Si Gua is used as an herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
To use this for healing, boil with hot water and drink the decoction. It is slightly sweet with a good flavor.
1. Helps expel phlegm in lung that is difficult in coughing up especially if it is green or yellow. (The vine is a better expectorant.)
2. Stops pain from stiff aching swollen joints. (rheumatoid arthritis )
3. Promote lactation and resolve breast abscess. (Cook with dandelion to increase the effect.)
Other Great Uses for Loofah
Grind the skin down and it makes a great facial.
Make soap with the loofah skeleton. Combine the soap and the skeleton to make a gentle soap with a natural scrub.
Make Money with Loofah
Learn to profit from it. Harvest loofah and sell them at a farmers market. The skeleton sponge can be used for many things. They are easily moldable and can conform and compressed to any size and shape. They can be sewn to make them more compact. Be creative and watch them sell because of your unique designs. Or make loofah soap scrub and sell them at a farmers market.
Choosing the Two Types of Loofah
Loofah Facial Scrub – Wendi Phan
About the author:
E. Wong is a licensed acupuncturist in Texas that practices Traditional Chinese Medicine. With over 30 years of training in Tai Chi and Qi Gong, he shares his knowledge with his student as a Tai Chi and Qi Gong instructor.
He believes in being a responsible denizen of this planet through actions such as recycling, alternative energy, and green living.