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Loofah is a plant. When the fully grown fruit is allowed to dry, a fibrous, sponge-like structure stays. The fibers can be boiled in water, which is then used as medication.
Luffa is taken by mouth for treating and preventing colds. It is also utilized for nasal swelling and sinus issues. Some people use it for arthritis discomfort, muscle discomfort, and chest pain.
Females use luffa to bring back absent menstrual durations. Nursing moms utilize it to increase milk flow.
Sometimes the entire luffa “sponge” is rubbed versus the skin to eliminate dead skin and stimulate the skin. Luffa charcoal, which is prepared by heating luffa fibers in a closed container, is used directly to the skin for shingles in the face and eye area.
In foods, young luffa fruits are consumed as vegetables.
In cosmetics, powdered luffa is utilized in skin care products to reduce swelling and “detoxify” the skin. 
Lost to time, the origin of the luffa (loofah) sponge is unknown regarding where exactly it originated from, but many scientists believe it originated in asia or africa and actual growing first started in india. Exceptionally, carbon dating exposed that the luffa gourd was brought to north america over 9000 years back! Early european inhabitants in the north american nests grew luffa as one of the first domesticated crops in the new world.
A renown author and scientist, johann vesling, who passed away in 1649 took a trip to egypt in the late 1620’s and studied the luffa gourd being cultivated with a selection of artificial watering channels. From this culture, which called the sponge gourd “luf” in arabic, came the establishment of the name of the luffa genus, luffa aegyptiaca.
Over the eons and till the present day, the simple luffa gourd has actually been utilized for food and juice when little and green. And then when the luffa is dried, peeled and cleaned, it’s used for sponges and an unlimited list of bathing and cleaning usages. It is still used in many parts of the world for medicinal purposes, including recovery extracts and medical tools, mattresses, insulation, hat padding, soldier’s helmet padding, for painting, ornaments, decorations and water filters. Prior to and throughout wwii, the skeleton of the luffa gourd was used thoroughly for diesel motor oil filters and steam engine filters.
Before the end of wwii, most luffas were imported from japan, nevertheless, the terrible attack on pearl harbor ended the bulk importation of luffas to the united states. In new york in 1893, nell cusack, a reporter composed “they were in great demand!” Referring to the commonly spreading popularity of this wonderful luffa sponge that made your skin radiance. The women, desiring their skin to appear as vibrant as could be, often scrubbed with vitality and over-enthusiastically. Cusack downplayed the truth that numerous were so enthusiastic, they turned their faces and skin red as lobsters. In her short article, she composed that the ever-growing appeal of the luffa sponge was developing a taking off pattern encouraging “a loafer, loofah, loopa, or lufhar in every wash basin in the land.”.
On a side note, there still is not a consensus on how to spell the name of this ancient and unique natural sponge. The two most typical spellings in the english language today are luffa (which is part of the scientific genus name) and loofah.
Remarkably, given that the “black pester in europe in the 1400’s, individuals rarely bathed because they believed the warm water opened the pores of their skin, subjecting them to a variety of diseases. Nonetheless, not till the late 1800’s was this myth exposed. A medical researcher, louis kuhne, who died in 1901 was the “father of the friction bath” and thought scrubbing strongly with a tool like a luffa sponge in tepid water was not just excellent but essential for detoxing of the skin. In the last part of the 1800’s, this belief resulted in a craze of “friction bathing” by women who wanted to cleanse their skin of any toxic substances or disease.
The modest luffa sponge was utilized by many when the mohair mittens or flesh brushes were too pricey or not readily offered. In the early 20th century, women started fussing much more about the health and glow of their skin as trending fashion plunged their neck lines and raised their hemlines. One publication in 1902 wrote that a person might attain that marble-statue glow by “sanding” down the bumps. Consequently, many females found the practical luffa sponge worked marvels to help them attain this objective. 
Luffa (luffa aegyptiaca mill.) Is a plant from the cucumber family, mainly grown for fibre production.
Luffa (luffa aegyptiaca mill.) Is a plant from the cucumber family grown for its multipurpose fruit in many tropical countries. It is an annual climbing or routing herbaceous species that can grow to a length of 15 m. The luffa fruit is a round, fusiform, smooth, and dehiscent pill, 20-50 cm long x 6-10 cm broad, with has a particular fibrous mesocarp. The leaves are alternate, large (6-25 cm x 6-27 cm) ovate and dark green. The seeds are numerous, dull black, elliptic-ovoid, 10-12 mm long x 6-8 mm broad. The luffa genus encompasses 7 types amongst which 2 are domesticated: luffa aegyptiaca and luffa acutangula.
Luffa is a fast-growing vine well fit to tropical locations or to summer-growing conditions under a temperate environment. Luffa is believed to have actually originated from asia, though some authors have actually likewise recommended a west african origin. Luffa is now widely spread in tropical and subtropical areas worldwide. Naturalized luffa happens in forests, forests, thickets and grasslands, and from water level to an elevation of 1500 (-1800 m). Cultivated plants do better where typical annual temperatures are about 23-27 ° c and where yearly rainfall is in between 1000 and 2000 mm. Luffa can grow on a wide variety of soils but does better on medium-textured natural soils such as deep, well-drained sandy loams, with the ph ranging from 5.5 to 6.8, and low salinity (less than 4 ds/m). Luffa is sensitive to frost, and excessive rains during flowering or fruiting obstructs fruit yield.
The primary industrial production comes from china, korea, india, japan. In brazil, luffa is among the most important sources of fibre with piaçava (attalea funifera mart. Ex spreng.) And curauá (ananas comosus (l.) Merr. Var. Erectifolius (l. B. Sm.) Coppens & & f. Leal) and its growing has an increasing financial significance. 
The fruit area of l. Aegyptiaca might be allowed to mature and used as a bath or kitchen area sponge after being processed to remove everything other than the network of xylem fibers. If the loofah is allowed to fully ripen and after that dried on the vine, the flesh disappears leaving just the fibrous skeleton and seeds, which can be easily cleaned. Marketed as luffa or loofah, the sponge is used as a body scrub in the shower.
In paraguay, panels are made out of luffa integrated with other vegetable matter and recycled plastic. These can be used to create furniture and construct houses.
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In hindi-speaking north indian states, it is called torai (तोरई), and prepared as vegetable. However in central/western india, specifically in madhya pradesh, it is called gilki (गिल्की). Torai is reserved for ridge gourd and is less popular than gilki in main western india.
In bhojpuri speaking areas it is called ghiura. Apart from fruit of the vegetable, flowers are also used as veggie as chokha, tarua, pakoda, etc.
In nepal and nepali language speaking indian states, it is called ghiraula (घिरौंला). It is popular veggie usually cooked with tomato and potatoes and served with rice.
In gujarat it is referred to as turia or turya (તુરીયા) in addition to ghissori or ghissora in the kutchi language. It is a basic but very popular vegetable generally made with a plentiful tomato gravy and garnished with green chillies and fresh coriander. When cooked roti is shredded by hand and blended into it, it is informally referred to as “rotli shaak ma bhuseli”. Alternatively this dish is also eaten mixed with plain cooked rice.
In bengali-speaking bangladesh and the indian state of west bengal, it is called dhudhul (ধুঁধুল) and a popular veggie. It is eaten fried or prepared with shrimp, fish, or meat.
In assam, it is called bhul (ভুল) and is prepared with sour fish curry together with taro.
In tamil nadu, luffa acutangula (ridged gourd) is called peerkangai (பீர்க்கங்காய்) and luffa aegyptiaca/ luffa cylindrica (sponge gourd) is called nurai peerkankai (நுரை பீர்க்கங்காய்) and are used as veggies to make peerkangai kootu, poriyal, and thogayal. Even the skin is used to make chutney.
In karnataka’s malenadu (western ghats) it is referred to as tuppadahirekayi, which literally translates as “buttersquash”, also known as hirekayi in kannada. It grows naturally in this region and is taken in when it is still tender and green. It is utilized as a vegetable in curries, but likewise as a snack, bhajji, dipped in chickpea batter and deep fried. In tulu language it is called peere and is used to prepare chutney and ajethna.
In telangana, it is called beerakaya. It is utilized in making dal, fry, roti pacchadi and damp curry.
In andhra pradesh, it is called nethi beerakaya or beerakaya. And in assam it is called jika (জিকা, luffa acutangula) and bhula (ভোল, luffa aegyptiaca). It is utilized as a vegetable in a curry, chutney and stir fry.
In kerala, it is called peechinga; in the palakkad location it is particularly called poththanga and used in while bathing. It is likewise used as a vegetable, cooked with dal or stir fried. Fully grown fruit is used as a natural scrub in rural kerala. In some locations such as wayanad, it grows as a creeper on fences.
In maharashtra, india, dodka (ridge gourd luffa) and ghosavala (smooth luffa) prevail vegetables prepared with either crushed dried peanuts or with beans.
In manipur, india, sebot is cooked with other active ingredients like potato, dried fish, fermented fish and served. It is likewise steamed and consumed or squashed (ironba) with other components and served with steamed rice (chaak). Fried ones (kaanghou) are also favorites for numerous. Sebot is likewise eaten as a green veggie.
Other asian foods
In vietnamese cuisine, the gourd is called “mướp hương” and is a common ingredient in soups and stir-fried dishes.
In china and taiwan (where it is called simplified chinese: 丝瓜; traditional chinese: 絲瓜; pinyin: sīguā, or in english, “silk melon”), indonesia (where it is called oyong), and the philippines (where it is called patola in tagalog and kabatiti in ilokano), in timor-leste it is also called “patola” or “batola” in tetum and in manipur, india, (where it is called sebot) the luffa is consumed as a green veggie in various meals.
In japan it is called hechima (へちま) and is cultivated all over the country during summer season. It is typically used as a green vegetable in conventional dishes of the ryukyu islands (where it is called naabeeraa). In other regions it is also grown for usages aside from food.
Luffa is also called “chinese okra” in canada and the u.s.
. Other usages
In japan, in areas besides the ryukyu islands and kyushu, it is mainly grown for usage as a sponge or for using soap, shampoo, and cream. Just like bitter melon, many individuals grow it outdoors structure windows as a natural sunscreen in summertime. 
How to plant and grow it
You can snag some luffa seeds from your local nursery or purchase them online. With any luck, you’ll only require to make the purchase one time considering that each luffa gourd holds up to 350 seeds of its own.
Given that luffas are sun-loving plants, garden enthusiasts who live in usda zones 7 and above will have the most luck with them, describes sarah barbosa, a homesteader and luffa seller living in texas. While she notes that those in chillier zones (down to about zone 5) will have the ability to grow luffa, their plants will not produce as lots of healthy gourds.
Those in chillier environments will also need to start growing their seeds inside or in a mini greenhouse, around 8 to 12 weeks before spring starts in their area. Anticipate germination to take around 21 days. When your final frost hits, you can put your sprouted luffa in the ground beneath a tough trellis or structure that it can climb.
Barbosa learned the hard way that a lightweight trellis will not be able to bring the weight of this vine as it grows. She now utilizes cattle panels made from super-strong galvanized steel to hold up her extensive luffa garden. Florida-based luffa grower jeannie schmidle has likewise had success setting her luffa up next to an established patch of black bamboo.
” it’s a very prolific plant– but you need to have the area,” adds barbosa, who suggests leaving at least a few feet of area on all sides of your luffa spot so it can spread its rich, green vines. Since luffa has a quite compact root system, you can plant a few of its seeds quite close together, about a foot apart.
Caring for the plant.
Barbosa and schmidle state that when your luffa remains in the ground, you shouldn’t have to do much to keep it pleased– particularly if you live in a hot environment. Just keep these care suggestions in mind:.
Sunlight and temperature level:
It’s nearly difficult to offer this plant excessive heat and sunshine. “you can grow it on the sun if you really attempted. It will take the heat,” barbosa jokes.
” the only disadvantage on the other end is that it will pass away in frost,” she includes, so you truly require to wait till all possibility of frost has passed in your area before planting your luffa in an area in your garden that gets lots of direct sunshine.
It’s also crucial to keep in mind that luffa plants have a long growing season; it can take about 200 days for them to be prepared to pick. This is another factor that those in climates that are warm for more of the year will have more success with this plant.
Shmidle notes that luffa plants delight in damp soil, but they are pretty drought-resistant. Once you initially put it in the ground, it tends to need more water, once its vines really start growing, you can get away with watering it when weekly or so.
” due to the fact that it’s a vigorous vine, it enjoys to climb– and it can climb truly quick,” shmidle states. “you have to offer it space.”.
You don’t wish to put your luffa near any other vining plants, as it can easily surpass them. Barbosa says that you can grow smaller plants below your luffa trellis, however, such as tomatoes and herbs.
” luffa is among those crops that once it’s growing, there is no genuine rhyme or reason to where it grows,” she says, so she and schmidle both advise considering your first season with it as an experimental period that can offer you a sense of this distinct crop’s needs.
When the plant is ready to be harvested.
Your luffa plant ought to first start to flower after about 90 days in the ground, and 90 days after that is when the fruit enters play. So if you plant your luffa in april, you need to be ready to collect in september.
A mature luffa gourd is about 1 to 2 feet in length, and it resembles a large cucumber. At first, these gourds are dark green in color, and as they dry, they will go from dark green to light green to yellow to dark brown.
If you are growing luffa to consume, you’ll wish to gather it throughout that early dark green stage, while the fruit feels soft to the touch. At this moment, it needs to still be wet enough that it’s pleasant to consume. The longer your luffa stays on the vine, the dryer it will end up being. Those who are growing for loofah sponges need to wait till the fruit is absolutely brown. If your gourd falls off the vine before this point, you can place it out in the sun for a couple of days till it dries completely.
Once your loofah is dry, you can eliminate the bottom tip of it and clean the gold mine of seeds stored inside. Then, to get to the fibrous, spongy material, barbosa suggests soaking your loofah in water for a couple of minutes, until the tough outer husk easily peels.
If you see any slimy sap on your sponge, schmidle says you can soak it in a mix of 50/50 water and vinegar, give it a great scrub, and leave it out in the sun for another couple of days till it’s tidy, dry, and prepared to utilize. 
Health benefits of sponge gourd (luffa)
All parts of the luffa plant have the medical properties. Luffa fruit (towel gourd) is used in cooking in addition to deal with various health ailments. It is valuable to reduce the blood glucose, constipation, weight loss, and hypoglycemia, boost immune system, weight loss and cleanses the body.
Luffa fruit (sponge gourd) contains different anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins, nutrients and lipids. It is an outstanding source of vitamin a and carbs. It is likewise a very good source of vitamin b5, manganese, potassium, copper, total dietary fiber, vitamin b6, vitamin c and magnesium.
Prevents eye disorders
Vitamin an avoids from the macular degeneration that results in the blindness. The study conducted by the nationwide eye institute shows that those who took vitamin c, vitamin a, copper, vitamin e and zinc, their possibilities of macular degeneration was decreased by 25% in a six year period. The study likewise shows that the eye drops of vitamin an efficiently treat the dry eyes. Consisting of vitamin an abundant food luffa fruit in your day-to-day diet might help to reduce eye disorders.
Vitamin b5 in 900 mg dosage assists to minimize the bad cholesterol as well as triglycerides which minimize the opportunities of cardiovascular disease. As 900 mg dosage is the greater amount, one need to speak with the doctor before taking.
manganese is necessary for the production of digestion enzymes which is accountable for a process called gluconeogenesis. The research carried out by the department of internal medication and biochemistry showed that mice that were given the manganese, their glucose tolerance were enhanced in 12 weeks. The manganese promoted the secretion of insulin, minimize the lipid peroxidation and boost the mitochondrial function.
Avoids muscle pain
potassium balances the fluid levels and helps to unwind muscles. The low presence of potassium results in the muscle cramps, convulsions and pain. It assists to break down the protein and carbohydrates on which the muscle depends for the repair and energy.
copper provides anti-inflammatory residential or commercial properties which relieve tightness and discomfort which relates to arthritis. It is able to help with muscular strength, repair connective tissue. The people with arthritis wear copper bands or bracelets as it is believed that the copper can reduce the uncomfortable signs.
Deal with anemia
Vitamin b6 is essential to produce hemoglobin in the blood which assists to carry the oxygen to the cells and mobilizes iron. Anemia is the result of insufficient red cell. The clients of anemia may experience these signs such as pains, fatigue and discomfort. The research study reveals that the consumption of vitamin b6 in appropriate quantity decreases the signs of anemia and prevents its occurring.
The research study shows that high consumption of vitamin c can decrease the skin dryness, wrinkles and decreases the aging procedure. vitamin c is important for the production of protein to form tendons, skin, capillary and ligaments. It assists in the recovery procedure of injury and also forms a scar tissue.
The inadequate amount of magnesium is connected to migraine headaches. magnesium helps to balance the neurotransmitters in the body. The study which was released in professional review of neurotherapeutics showed that the dosage of 300 milligrams of magnesium lowers the recurrence of migraine headaches.
Oxygen is needed for the brain to work correctly. The brain results to poor memory, apathy and reduce productivity in the absence of iron as the brain won’t receive oxygen. The shortage of iron results in restless, inflammation and inattentive.
Type 2 diabetes
The food rich in magnesium assists to reduce the opportunities of type 2 diabetes due to the fact that magnesium is important for glucose metabolic process. The dose of 100 milligrams of magnesium in a day reduces the opportunities of diabetes by 15 percent.
Numerous parts of the plant are used in the folkloric ethnomedicine. It is thought that luffa fruit is pectoral, carminative, anthelmintic, cooling to the blood; assist in circulation, antiseptic, emmenagogue and galactagogue. The fruit is utilized as a tonic to the genital organs, beneficial to the intestines, demulcent and cooling or warming to the stomach. The dried fruit is used as an emetic after steeped. In java, juice of the leaf is utilized to treat amenorrhea whereas, the people of india is utilized to deal with snake bites and dysentery. In philippines, the skin diseases and orchitis are dealt with by using the leaves. The seeds are used as cathartic, emetic and hydragogue. The infusion made from the seeds is used as an anthelmintic drastic and purgative. The extracts of root and vine are handy for dental caries, ozoena and parasitic affections. The extract from leaves helps to cause labor throughout childbirths in western ugand. 
Is luffa edible?
When the fruits of the luffa plant are harvested at a young phase, they can be eaten. Especially in asia, it is typically delighted in as a vegetable. It can be eaten raw or steamed and tastes comparable to courgette. The exact same holds true for the plant’s flowers. The luffa seeds, which are abundant in protein and fat, can also be utilized to make cooking oil. 
Stir-fried luffa gourds with eggs dish
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1 pound luffa gourds, peeled and roll-cut into 1-inch pieces (see note)
- 2 big eggs, lightly beaten
- Fish sauce, to taste
- White pepper, to taste
Heat oil in a 12-inch non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add garlic and stir-fry until light brown and aromatic, about 30 seconds. Include gourds and 2 teaspoons fish sauce to pan. Stir and prepare till gently softened, about 1 minute. Include eggs. Cook, stirring, till eggs are hardly set, about 1 minute longer. Season to taste with more fish sauce if wanted. Transfer to a plate and dust with white pepper. Serve with rice. 
- 2 ridge gourd
- 2 onion
- 2 tomato large
- 1 & & 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
- 3/4 teaspoon garam masala powder
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon kasoori methi
- Salt as required
- 3 tablespoon coriander leaves sliced
- 2 tablespoon oil
- Peel the skin of the ridge gourd and chop into small pieces.
- Puree the tomato and keep aside. Slice onion finely too.
- In a kadai, add oil, fry onion till golden in colour.
- Add pureed tomato, red chilli powder, turmeric, salt, kasoori methi and fry in medium flame, till oil separates.
- Cover while frying as it might splutter. Say 4- 5 minutes.
- Include sliced ridge gourd. Mix well.
- Prepare covered for 6 minutes in medium flame in between mixing as soon as.
- Add garam masala powder and 1/2 cup water.
- Cook for more 8 minutes or until the veggie gets prepared soft and blends well with the masala. Garnish with the coriander leaves.
- I used 2 long ridge gourds for this.
- The consistency remains in a little gravy side. Ridge gourd leaves water by itself, so 1/2 cup water is enough.
- After adding water, you can cook covered for half the time and later simmer open.
- Add red chilli powder as pointed out and salt the gravy correctly as ridge gourd is bland in taste. 
Luffa is most likely safe for many people when used directly to the skin as a sponge. Nevertheless, the security of using luffa charcoal for shingles is unidentified. Luffa is possibly safe when taken by mouth in food amounts. However there isn’t adequate details to understand if luffa is safe when taken as medicine. The possible side effects of luffa are unidentified. 
The proper dosage program of luffa depends upon factors such as age, health, and other conditions. At this time, there is not enough information to figure out an appropriate series of doses for luffa. 
10 fun realities about loofahs
The loofah sponge comes from a plant, typically referred to as the sponge gourd or an egyptian cucumber – the technical term called luffa aegyptiaca. The sponge gourd can be matured to 30 cm long. Native to south and southeast asia, the yearly plant thrives in hot summertime temperatures, requires great deals of sun, water and well-drained soil. It bears small yellow flowers that become long, cucumber-like fruit.
Apart from being made into a sponge, did you understand that loofahs can be consumed too? Young loofahs can be eaten raw or cooked like summer squash. Anything under 4 inches (10cm) doesn’t need to be peeled; nevertheless, from 4-6 inches (10-15cm), you may peel it as the skin can be bitter. In addition, the small yellow flowers on the plant can also be consumed as you would squash blossoms.
The loofah plant has lots of medicinal uses. Research reveals that it serves an as anti-inflammatory agent and has anti-viral homes. Intaking loofahs by the mouth helps treat and avoid colds. It is likewise utilized for nasal swelling and sinus problems. Some utilize it for arthritis, muscle and chest pain. In other cases, women use loofahs to restore irregular menstrual periods and nursing moms use them to increase milk flow.
Luffas are a popular environment-friendly, non-plastic item that’s utilized for cleansing and exfoliating skin. It’s achieved by drying the whole mature fruit.
The process begins when the mature fruit is collected and dried. After, they are taken in water, peeled and de-seeded. Dried once again, sliced and cut into the wanted sizes and shape, they are sold as sponges.
Because no animal product is associated with the production process of loofahs, they are vegan. If you’re thinking about going plant-based and vegan, switching to a loofah item is an easy method to get rid of an animal item from your life.
Conventional loofahs are made from synthetic materials like plastic that are collected into looped mesh sections to form them into the fluffy balls that you see. Because loofah sponges are purely made from the gourd, it’s a best eco-friendly option.
Naturally degradable and compostable
Considering that it’s an all-natural product, the loofah sponge is 100% naturally degradable and compostable. If you believe that your sponge or brush is getting unclean or old, you can quickly toss them right into your yard compost bin to generate garden compost that can be utilized as soil. Otherwise, you can rinse after each use, making sure all the soap is gone and let it dry entirely in between uses. If it begins to produce an odour, you can sterilize it by boiling it in water.
Traditional bath poufs are obsoleted with most of them getting tossed after a brief beneficial life and after that being in the land fill for several years beyond that. Numerous plastic products likewise wind up in our water streams as microfibres from the plastic can leak down our shower drains. With loofahs, you can re-plant them annually from seed and in a number of months, be able to harvest another set, making it such an easy resource.
While the majority of use loofah sponges as a shower pad or bath poufs to clean and exfoliate the skin, you can also utilize them in the kitchen area to wash meals and scrub the walls and floorings. The plant’s hard fibers can clean up difficult dirt, making it one more reason you no longer require a plastic sponge. Check out our loofah collection:.
- Loofah shower pad
- Loofah dishwashing sponge
- Loofah soap meal duo
- Eco sponges
- Absolutely no waste cleansing set – loofah package
Easy to care
A loofah’s fibrous network and a restroom’s moist environment is a breeding ground for microorganisms. After each use, it’s finest to dry entirely in a cool location. Boiling it in water to eliminate bacteria and put far from high heat or flames.
Do not these fun truths make you enjoy loofah even more? They’re vegan, plant-based, naturally degradable, compostable and easy to take care of. It can be utilized for all sorts of things from washing your meals to exfoliating your skin to cleaning your floors and walls. Loofahs are genuinely a fantastic eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastic sponges. 
Is there any difference in between luffa and loofah?
Both terms refer to the very same thing, but luffa describes it fresh and loofah to it dried and ready for use as a sponge. You can use both names to refer to the fresh fruit or the vine. 
Whether you wish to grow your own natural bath or meal sponges, or your own nutrient-rich fruit, loofah gourd is a fantastic option. Do note that while the growing season is long and needs perseverance, by following the suggestions discussed above, you can effectively grow your own loofah gourd.