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Shikakai – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

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The content has been written by a medical expert.


Shikakai, also known as Shika in Tamil, Seekaaya in Telugu, and Soap pod in English, is a powerful ayurvedic plant that has been used for generations as a cleanser for healthy, long hair, dandruff management and relief in skin diseases. 

Shikakai, also known as Acacia concinna in scientific terms, is a shrub-like tree native to Central India. Acacia concinna (Leguminosae), a climbing shrub with oblong-shaped dark brown pods, bipinnate leaves, and pink flowers. It is typically found in the Indian subcontinent’s tropical woods.1

Therapeutic Uses of Shikakai: 

Shikakai is a plant that is used in India to treat long hair, dandruff, and skin disorders 

This herb has been discovered to have activity to treat constipation, jaundice, gum infections, leprosy, malarial fever and ingredient of contraceptives.1, 2 

Shikakai is also known to have many medicinal properties. These include-3 

  • Anti-dandruff 
  • Wound healing 
  • Anti-hair fall properties 
  • Anti-inflammatory  
  • Antifungal activity 
  • Antibacterial activity 
  • Anti-oxidant activity 
  • Hair growing property 

Benefits of Shikakai:

Natural surfactant soap pods have been used for cleansing the scalp, strengthening the hair from the roots, offering relief from scaling, and reducing irritation, dryness, greasiness, and scaling of the scalp since ancient times.1  Shikakai means “fruit for hair”.4

When it comes to hair care, natural herbs are preferred. Shikakai has been utilised for skin and hair care since ancient times, and Ayurveda recognizes its advantages. Shikakai fruit pods that contain tiny seeds are used. Shikakai is a powerful plant that can help with a variety of diseases.4

Benefits of Shikakai for Hair

  • Shikakai is recognised for naturally softening and smoothing hair by releasing essential oils and vitamins that are important for hair growth.
  • It encourages hair development and maintains hair silky and lustrous. Hair loss can cause stress, which leads to even more hair loss.
  • When used for hair loss, Shikakai can considerably aid in the restoration of hair’s glossy thickness and length. 
  • Shikakai is high in important nutrients, keeps hair healthy and prevents breakage and brittleness, which are two of the most prevalent causes of hair loss. 

Benefits of Shikakai for Dandruff: 

  • With its antifungal, antibacterial, and nutritious characteristics, shikakai is an excellent remedy for dandruff. It has no negative effects and can be used to treat the scalp and get rid of annoying dandruff problems. 
  • Shikakai is a common ingredient in hair masks. These cooling packs, which are usually made up of Shikakai, amla, yoghurt, and soap nut, can provide welcome relief during hot weather, a nagging headache, or simply for a peaceful experience on a leisurely day. 
  • Hair greying can be slowed and prevented by using a hair pack containing shikakai, soap nut, and other herbal components such as amla.
  • Hair should be cleaned with shikakai before applying hair dye (even natural hair dye). This allows the colour to sink in better and remain on for longer. 

Also Read: 15 Home Remedies for Dandruff

Benefits of Shikakai for Hair Lice

Hair lice are an embarrassment and a serious concern. Shikakai, fortunately, also has a hair lice treatment. Its low pH value, together with its antifungal and antibacterial capabilities, can prevent hair lice from growing. 

Benefits of Shikakai for Dry Scalp 

Shikakai prevents dry scalp by acting as a natural cleaner that does not remove essential oils. 

Also Read: 5 Ayurveda Herbs That Are Great for Hair

Benefits of Shikakai for Minor Wounds

  • Shikakai can treat minor scrapes and bruises on the scalp due to its therapeutic characteristics. Shampoos and other lotions can irritate sensitive scalp skin but ground roasted shikakai paste can provide significant relief. 
  • A smooth pate of shikakai powder with turmeric and fresh neem leaves can be used to heal minor scalp cuts and wounds.  

Benefits of Shikakai for Scabies: 

  • Shikakai is used to treat scabies as an antibacterial wash.
  • To create the wash, soak turmeric in hot water for a few minutes and then mash it into a paste. Burn a long slice of shikakai directly in the fire until it gets dark. Allow it to cool before grinding it into a fine powder. Boil water and combine ground turmeric paste and ground shikakai powder. Strain and apply to the afflicted area as an antiseptic wash. 
  • Shikakai and turmeric both have antifungal, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties, making this a good scabies wash. 

Benefits of Shikakai for Spots: 

Mixing a tablespoon of shikakai powder with a tablespoon of cream, almond powder, and turmeric helps to remove dead skin cells and give skin a natural glow. 

Benefits of Shikakai for Constipation: 

  • The suppository and purgative properties of shikakai pods are highly helpful in treating constipation and reducing indigestion, abdominal cramps, and flatulence.
  • It aids in the digestion of meals and the passage of faeces through the body. 

Benefits of Shikakai for Gum Infections: 

  • Shikakai’s anti-bacterial properties are crucial in preventing tooth and gum infections.
  • It also prevents tooth decay and plaque build-up, as well as gingivitis and other gum diseases. 

Benefits of Shikakai for Jaundice

Ayurveda attests to the efficacy of this powerful plant in the treatment of jaundice. It stimulates the liver and regulates bile secretion. 

Also Read: 12 Home Remedies for Jaundice

Benefits of Shikakai for Blood Sugar Level

Shikakai powder regulates blood sugar levels to a normal level. It neither allows the blood sugar level to decrease nor increase thereby keeping it balanced. 

Also Read: 8 Effective Herbs to Lower Blood Sugar

Benefits of Shikakai for Aging

  • Shikakai pods can be used to clean the skin after being soaked in water. This cure will make your skin look healthier and younger if you apply it on a regular basis.
  • It also helps to prevent wrinkles, fine lines, and dark spots, which are all symptoms of ageing. 

Benefits of Shikakai for Spermicidal Activity

 Shikakai bark contains saponin, which has spermicidal and hormonal properties, making it beneficial as a contraceptive. 

Benefits of Shikakai for Malaria

  • Shikakai leaf extract is traditionally used to treat malarial fever. 
  • It is also used to cure Black fever, which is a fever that develops during malaria, and it helps to keep the mouth fresh by removing foul odours. 
  • Shikakai pod and leaf extracts are utilised as larvicidal and mosquito repellent due to their phytochemical profile. 

Also Read: Foods to Eat & Avoid for Malaria

Benefits of Shikakai for Diabetes

  • It reduces the possibilities of diabetes and helps to avoid the emergence of diabetes by curing many diseases of the throat such as discomfort, infections, ulcers, or boils in the gums.
  • It makes the conditions healthier and helps to prevent the occurrence of diabetes.
  • It also decreases cholesterol levels in the body and prevents blood sugar levels from becoming too high or too low.  

Benefits of Shikakai for Contraception

It is an effective contraceptive component that can also be used to prevent unintended pregnancies that are detected early on. 

Benefits of Shikakai for Leprotic

Shikakai pods can be very beneficial and successful in curing the condition known as leprosy by applying it to the afflicted wounds when mixed with lukewarm water.  

Side Effects of Shikakai:  

The majority of studies have determined that shikakai is safe to eat and has no negative effects. Excessive shikakai use can result in some of the adverse effects described below.5

  • Shikakai can cause asthma and respiratory problems if used excessively 
  • It can make the scalp oily if used regularly. 
  • Excessive shikakai consumption might cause nausea and even loose faeces. 
  • Consumption of these remaining seeds boiled in lukewarm water can be hazardous. 
  • Shikakai is also cause dry skin if used often. 
  • Shikakai is also known to produce bloating, which can leave a person feeling uneasy. 
  • Acidity is claimed to be caused by shikakai. 

How to Use Shikakai? 

Shikakai is available in five different forms5

  1. Shikakai powder  
  2. Shikakai oil  
  3. Shikakai hair soap 
  4. Shikakai hair pack 
  5. Shikakai body wash 
  6. Shikakai shampoo 

Your doctor will prescribe you the appropriate form based on your individual needs. 

Precautions to Taken with Shikakai: 

If you have one or more of these conditions, it is important to consult with your doctor before taking shikakai.5 

  • Shikakai consumption during pregnancy and breast-feeding may be detrimental to the baby. It is possible that it will impair the baby’s development. Shikakai should not be consumed by women who are pregnant or nursing. 
  • Internal dosages of shikakai that are too high or used for too long might cause stomach discomfort, nausea, and loose stools. 
  • Because saponin content has a spermicidal effect, it is advisable to avoid using it orally in patients who are undergoing infertility treatment. 
  • It can induce a variety of illnesses, including asthma and gastrointestinal difficulties, as well as bloating. 
  • It can also lead to gastric problems in the stomach that can cause bloating. 

Frequently Asked Questions:  

1) What is Shikakai? 

Shikakai is a traditional Indian medicinal herb that is particularly effective at preventing hair loss and dandruff.1 

2) How to Prepare Shikakai Powder at Home? 

Take 500 grams shikakai, 100 grams reetha, 100 grams fenugreek seeds, tulsi leaves, hibiscus petals, and curry leaves. Allow two days for all of the components to dry in the sun. Grind them thoroughly, then store the shikakai powder in an airtight container until needed.3 

3) How to Use Shikakai Powder for Hair Wash? 

Overnight soak shikakai pods, reetha, and amla in water. The next day, bring the water to a boil until all of the ingredients have softened. Strain the mixture thoroughly and use it to wash hair like a shampoo.3 

4) How to Use Shikakai? 

For hundreds of years, Shikakai has been used in India for hair treatment. The Shikakai tree’s pods, leaves, and bark are high in vitamins A, C, D, E, and K. It can be used as a shampoo to clean hair, as hair oil, or even as a hair mask to nourish and speed up the growth of hair.1 

5) Can I Use Shikakai Daily? 

Yes, bathing hair with shikakai every day is fine. In fact, shikakai is superior to commercial shampoos when it comes to hair. Because it contains natural saponins, shikakai helps to cleanse the hair.3 

6) Does Shikakai Cause Hair Loss? 

Shikakai is a fantastic tonic for all hair issues. Although Shikakai does not cause hair loss, too much of it might cause the hair follicles to dry up and become brittle.4 

7) Does Shikakai Remove Dandruff? 

Because of its unique capacity to cleanse without irritating the scalp, shikakai is effective as an anti-dandruff agent. It’s especially good for treating chronic dandruff caused by too much oil on the scalp. When applied on a daily basis, Shikakai helps to eliminate excess oil from the scalp and reduces dandruff.4 

8) Can We Use Conditioner After Shikakai? 

Because shikakai shampoo does not strip the hair of its natural oils during the washing process, a conditioner is usually not required afterward. The shampoo can also be used to detangle hair.3 

9) Can You Eat Shikakai Powder? 

Due to its cleaning and anti-fungal characteristics, shikakai can be used alone or in conjunction with reetha and amla as a shampoo to help manage hair fall and prevent dandruff. Because of its laxative properties, drinking shikakai infusion can aid with constipation.3 

10) Does Shikakai Cause Dandruff? 

No, shikakai does not cause dandruff; rather, its unique ability to cleanse without hurting the scalp makes it an effective anti-dandruff agent.4 

11) Does Shikakai Dry Out Hair? 

Shikakai has strong moisturising, conditioning, and hydrating characteristics that assist to prevent hair from becoming dry and frizzy. As a result, shikakai does not cause hair to dry out.4 

12) How to Use Reetha and Shikakai for Hair? 

Overnight soak shikakai pods, reetha, and amla in water. The next day, bring the water to a boil until all of the ingredients have softened. Strain the mixture thoroughly and use it as a hair shampoo.6 


  1. Raja AXV, Sama K. Phytochemical and biochemical analysis of the plant extract of Acacia concinna (wild). International Journal of Pharmaceutical Research & Development.2012; 3(12): 136-139. 
  1. Balkrishna A. Acacia Miller Fabaceae (Acacia concinna Willd. DC). World Herbal Encyclopedia (Angiosperms Part-1). 2017; 349-354. 
  1. Khanpara K, Renuka V, Harisha CR. A detailed investigation on shikakai (Acacia concinna Linn.) fruit. Journal of Current Pharmaceutical Research. 2012;9(10):06-10. 
  1. Acacia concinna – Shikakai. www.flowersofindia.net. Retrieved 8 September 2018. 
  1. Hazra J, Panda AK. Concept of beauty and ayurveda medicine. J Clin Exp Dermatol Res. 2013; 4(3): 1-4. 
  1. Utane R, Deo S, Itankar P. Preparation of herbal Shampoo (HS) by green method and their characterization. International Journal of Research in Social Sciences and Information. 2017; 5: 254-258. 


The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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