Historically Used to Treat: Bruises, itching, rashes, wounds, venereal diseases, cold sores and whitlows, tumors, acne, and eczema.
Other Uses: When the roots and stem are boiled they produce a lather with gentle cleansing properties, so soapwort was used as a soap, shampoo, & general cleanser. Used today in delicate art preservation. Used to clean wool - the name “fuller’s herb” comes from the position of “fuller” in a wool mill (one who cleaned off wool). Sheep are sometimes washed with a soapwort lather before being sheared.
Also used to create a pleasingly foamy head on some beers and rootbeers.
Culpeper's The Complete Herbal (1653) - On Saponaria
Sope-wort, or Bruise-wort, vulgarly used in bruises and cut fingers, and is of notable use in the veneral disease.
‘Venus owns this plant. The whole plant is bitter. Bruised and agitated with water it raises a lather like soap, which easily washes greasy spots out of cloths: a decoction of it, applied externally cures the itch. The Germans make use of it, instead of sarsaparilla, for the cure of venereal disorders. In fact it cures virulent gonorrhoeas, by giving the inpissated juice of it to the amount of half an ounce daily. It is accounted opening and attenuating and somewhat sudorific, and by some commended against hard tumours and whitlows, but it is seldom used.” - Culpeper