A natural scrubber in great demand

June 28, 2016 12:00 am | Updated September 16, 2016 04:53 pm IST - TIRUCHI:

A roadside vendor selling loofah bath sponge in Tiruchi.

A roadside vendor selling loofah bath sponge in Tiruchi.

Loofah sponge, a beauty aid, remains a popular item in native medicine stores along NSB Road and Big Bazaar Street here.

Most of them (obtained by drying out the ‘peerkangai’ or ridge gourd) comes from nearby places such as Mutharasanallur and surrounding villages.

Pavement vendor Radhakrishnan, who has been selling the sponge for nearly 20 years on NSB Road, says it has become very popular among tourists.

“The summer is ideal season for growing and drying the fibres of the gourd. So, we get a larger supply during April, May and June.”

Loofah scrubbers are priced at Rs. 7 to 10. Interestingly, the same with additions like a fibre mitten or a wooden back brush, cost more in major departmental and online stores.

The sponge becomes more pliant when it is soaked in water. As such, it is considered a natural way to exfoliate dead skin cells.

“There is no side effect in using a loofah scrubber as it suits most skin types,” said K.Gopalan, Proprietor of Vetha Ayurvetha Clinic.

According to N. Muralidharan of M.Muniapillai Siddha Medical Shop, “the scrubber sweeps away all harmful bacteria from our pores.”

However, most skin experts recommend frequent replacement of the sponge as it can encourage growth of bacteria on its damp surface. Although it is known more as a bath accessory, the loofah was used as an oil filter on ships before the Second World War.

The fibres were used to stuff pillows and as insulation material for buildings.

The ridge gourd, which grows on a vine, takes 100 to 180 days to mature into a loofah sponge.

The edible tender ridge gourd is an integral part of Tamil cuisine.

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