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The discovery of saponins

The discovery of saponins goes back a long way in history. Even in ancient times, plant extracts rich in saponins were used by various cultures for medicinal purposes. The name “saponins” is derived from the Latin word “sapo” for soap. This is due to the fact that they foam when dissolved in water and are therefore known as soap substances. Scientific studies began in the 19th century to investigate the specific properties and chemical structures of these fascinating compounds. Since then, they have been the focus of research, primarily because of their diverse health benefits.

Dosage forms and dosage

Saponins can be taken in various forms, such as capsules, tablets, powders and liquid extracts. Eating foods that are rich in it is also a way to benefit from their health benefits. Caution is advised when it comes to dosage, as too high a dose can cause side effects. A typical dosage for dietary supplements is between 200 mg and 500 mg per day, depending on the composition and individual requirements.

Saponins: medical applications

They have been shown to be extremely effective in the treatment and prevention of a wide range of diseases. Some of the most important areas of application are:

  • Lowering cholesterol: They can lower blood cholesterol levels by blocking the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine. This reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Cancer prevention: Studies have shown that they have anticarcinogenic properties that can inhibit the growth of cancer cells and prevent them from spreading.
  • Antioxidant effect: Their antioxidant properties protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, thus preventing chronic diseases.
  • Immune-boosting: They can strengthen the immune system and increase resistance to infections.
  • Anti-inflammatory: Thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties, they can help in the treatment of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.

How they work in the body

Saponins have a variety of effects in the body. They bind to cholesterol molecules and form insoluble complexes that cannot be absorbed by the intestines, which leads to a reduction in cholesterol levels. Their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help to prevent cell damage and reduce inflammation. They also have an immunomodulatory effect that strengthens the immune system and supports the body’s own defenses.

Recommended times of intake

Saponins should ideally be taken with meals to maximize their absorption and effectiveness. Supplementing with it can be particularly useful for people with high cholesterol, a weakened immune system or chronic inflammation. People who suffer from oxidative stress or want to prevent cancer can also benefit from saponins.

Contraindications and precautions

Not everyone should take saponins without hesitation. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are often advised against taking saponin-rich dietary supplements because the effects on the fetus or infant have not been sufficiently researched. People with sensitive stomachs or intestinal disorders should also be careful, as they can exacerbate gastrointestinal complaints.

Food supplements and medicinal plants

To support the effect of saponins, other dietary supplements and medicinal plants can be taken. These include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: support heart health and have an anti-inflammatory effect.
  • Vitamin C: Enhances the antioxidant effect and strengthens the immune system.
  • Turmeric: also has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Foods rich in saponins

Many foods contain high levels of saponins. These include:

  • Legumes such as beans, lentils and peas
  • Soy products such as tofu and tempeh
  • Oats and quinoa
  • Spinach and other green leafy vegetables

Regular consumption of these foods can help to provide the body with saponins in a natural way.

Saponins: Possible side effects

Although saponins offer many health benefits, they can also have side effects. The most common include gastrointestinal complaints such as nausea, bloating and diarrhea. In rare cases, they can cause allergic reactions. In very high doses, they can destroy red blood cells, which can lead to anemia.

Risks of overdose

An overdose of saponins can cause serious health problems. The symptoms of an overdose include:

  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Drop in blood pressure

If you suspect an overdose, seek medical attention immediately.

Saponins: natural medicine

Saponins are used as natural remedies in the traditional medicine of many cultures. In Chinese medicine, plants rich in saponins, such as ginseng and astragalus, are valued for their strengthening and healing properties. They also play an important role in Ayurvedic medicine, especially in the form of ashwagandha and shatavari.


Saponins are fascinating natural substances with a wide range of health benefits. Their ability to lower cholesterol, strengthen the immune system and fight inflammation makes them a valuable component of natural medicine. However, it is important to take the correct dosage to avoid side effects. The effects can be optimized by consuming foods rich in saponins and combining them with other dietary supplements.

Published on: 14. June 2024


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