#12. Sappho, and the origin of soap

The following article is a machine-translation of “Η οικογενειακή επιχείρηση του Οδυσσέα Ελύτη που έφτιαχνε σαπούνια”, “The family business of Odysseas Elytis who made soaps”, published in News on July 21, 2017. Odysseas Elytis (1911-1996), was a Greek poet, essayist and translator.[1]. His real name is Odysseas Alepoudelis. The name Alepoudelis[Αλεπουδέλης] is also the name of the soap factory in Heraklion, Crete.

Odysseas Alepoudelis was born on November 2, 1911 in Heraklion, Crete and was the son of Panagiotis Alepoudelis, a businessman from Lesbos[2], who had one of the largest and most famous soap factories in Greece.

The Alepoudelis soap factory was founded in Heraklion, Crete, in 1895. In the time of World War I, Elytis’s father, Panagiotis, moved his soap factory to Athens, to the area of ​​Piraeus. The Alepoudelis family, and of course Benjamin Odysseas, also moves to Athens. However, the origin of Elytis’ father, Lesvos, was determining the choice for a soap factory.

What we all know today is that a traditional soap, made from olive oil (a product that – remarkably – abroad is considered particularly valuable and a kind of luxury), comes, according to Greek mythology, from Lesbos. A legend tells that the women of ancient Lesbos washed their clothes in the river (as all women did at that time). So they noticed that the animal remains, along with the fats from the animals that were burned as sacrifices in the ancient sanctuaries near the river, swept away the ashes and formed a pale yellow stream that ended up in the river. On the days when the yellow stream flowed into the river, the clothes were washed better. And the soap was made! According to the ancient Greek legend, the soap got its name from the famous poet of Lesbos, Sappho[3][4].

[The word soap is related with the Latin word “sapo”, the French “savon”, the Italian sapone, and the Spanish “jabon”[5]. Those who have studied medicinal herbs and their active ingredients know about the so-called saponins[6], which have indeed characteristics of what we name soap. The word soap, and the term saponification[7] are therefore without any doubt only related with the term saponin. Admin]

Sappho (c. 630 – c. 570 BCE)

Until the time of the industrial revolution, all over the (known) world, soaps were produced in exactly the same way as the women of ancient Lesbos invented it. There have been soap factories on the island all these centuries. After the revolution of 1821, until the destruction of Izmir[8] (1922), soap making was a very lucrative Greek productive activity, with Lesvos soaps being exported from Constantinople[9] to Alexandria[10] and New York.

It should be noted that shortly before the Asia Minor[11] catastrophe, over 50% of Greek soap exports were from Lesbos. It was also the sttlement of 1 or 2 soap factories in the country.

One of the most famous soap factories (originating from Lesbos, based in Crete and then Piraeus, as mentioned above) was the company “Alepoudelis”, owned by the family of the poet Odysseas Elytis. “Alepoudelis” soaps were known all over the world, thanks to the pure olive oil they contained and the softness they offered. The “Alepoudeli” factory was one of the most modern at that time (of the first decades of 1900), and at the same time it was a huge export company since most of the production was exported to Egypt, Turkey, England and the USA. When Elytis’ father died in 1925, the business passed into the hands of Pangiotis’s younger brother and co-founder of the soap factory, Thrasyvoulos Alepoudelis, Elytis’s uncle, had the business idea to establish a separate department in the company, for the production of soaps that used only excellent olive oil and coconut oil, something that then put them at the top of European quality standards.

The company “Alepoudelis and Co.” also had branches in Crete, Corfu, Thessaloniki and – of course – Mytilene (Lesbos). The production of the soap factory continued unabated, surviving the enormous obstacle of World War II. Despite the huge business and commercial success of the company that bore his ancestral name, however, Odysseas did not want to deal with it. In fact, according to the information regarding his biography, the main reason that he changed his name to “Elytis” was precisely to separate his position and his … fate from the family business. The rest is history of course for the Greek poet … As for the family business: Alepoudelis soaps are produced until today. If you take a closer look at the well-known green soaps that are sold in many tourist shops throughout Greece, you will see the brand “Alepoudelis” in them.

The family soap-business lost Odysseas, but Art welcomed him.


References and additional information:

  1. Odysseas Elytis – Wikipedia
  2. Lesbos – Wikiwand
  3. Sappho – Wikiwand
  4. Guide to the classics: Sappho, a poet in fragments – The Conversation
  5. Soap – Online Etymology Dictionary
  6. Saponification – Merriam Webster dictionary
  7. Saponin – Wikipedia
  8. Izmir – Wikiwand
  9. Constantinople – Wikiwand
  10. Alexandria – Wikiwand
  11. Asia Minor – Wikiwand
  12. Alepoudelis Soap Factory – Blog In Silencio
  13. Documentary: Αθηνά & Σαπουνοποιίες στο Ηράκλειο / Athena & Soap Factories in Heraklion – YouTube
  14. All bar none: How ancient soap making methods are reinvigorating Crete – Geographical

#11. Shampoo

Shampoos are just another kind of soap, a liquid soap, and with as many chemicals as the most of the industrial soaps and detergents. Even the neutral shampoos can contain chemicals. Read therefore the information on the box or container before buying a soap or shampoo. Soap is per definition alkaline. Shampoos therefore as well. To make a shampoo more neutral, by lowering the alkalinity, the industry uses mostly chemicals, acidic chemicals. To make a shampoo lather the industry adds special chemicals, named sulfates. An informational article about it: The facts about shampoo lather. Lather is not a guarantee that your hair and scalp become clean though.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Shampoos, all sorts of shampoos, the many brands, all are claiming to be the best for your hair, offering for every hair type another shampoo, another conditioner, another hair mask. I have used for as long as they exist pH nautral shampoos, hair conditioners, masks, but my hair was, despite the neutral pH of the shampoos, and the beautiful natural conditoners, and masks, never really okay. My hair is thick, curly, dry, fluffy, and now I am becoming grey it is even dryer. I have tried everything. Because of the mentioned characteristics of my hair it is impossible to have it long. Not even half long.

Herbal olive oil soap as a shampoo bar

I have started lately to use my own herbal olive soap for hair washing, to see what happens. It looks better and better. . The most significant difference is that I do not need to wash my hair more than once per week. My hair looks and feels normal, is so much easier to be dressed. I was wondering why.

Though pH neutral shampoos can be used every day, the question is if washing your hair every day is really okay for hair and scalp. My thoughts go far back in time when hair was washed just once per week. That had a reason: the skin of the scalp is not the same skin as on the rest of your body. Every single hair is growing out of the scalp-skin and it is the skin that keeps the hair in a good condition. We need indeed hair conditioners and hair masks when we wash the hair daily. But if we offer the skin of the scalp the time to do their work in their own natural way, and if we do not immediately destroy their work, by daily taking away what the skin itself produces, namely sebum, we do not need hair conditioners as we do now. Daily washing the hair is maybe okay according to shampoo manufacturers, but it is a matter of logic thinking that the natural resistance of the skin and the hair will decrease because of exhaustion, or will become overactive at the very beginning, when the daily shampoo attacks start, even when the shampoo is pH neutral. Using a neutral shampoo once per week was for me not the solution. Reason to use it more. And that did not work either.

A natural conditioner: argan oil

My own experiences with my oily cold process herbal olive soaps are that washing my hair with it once per week is really enough. After making my hair towell dry I use a teaspoon pure argan oil and spread it over and through the towel-dry hair and massage it into the scalp and hair. I let the hair dry naturally. My fluffy, dry hair is gone, but I expect that hte condition of my hair will improve more. In a few weeks I will add an update here.

To make it more personal I have added about 20 drops of rosemary essential oil to the 50 ml bottle, and stirred it very good. Argan oil and essential oils can be bought at House of Deli, Crete:

Additional information

  1. What ages hair? – PubMed
  2. Hairloss due to electromagnetic radiation from overuse of cellphone – ResearchGate

My personal experiences with EMF and hair loss: during the time that I was not aware of the impact of EMF on my health, not informed about symptoms of overradiation, I was indeed losing so much hair that I was wondering what was going on. I have written about this in my blog Multerland, in several posts[Archives 2017-2018]. It was the start of a private study about EMF. The consultation of an osteopath was helpful to stop my bad physical condition: she worked on my scalp, neck, and it felt as if a layer of glass broke and my scalp was back to normal again. After several treatments my hair was growing again. The new hair looked like baby hair, but after some months it was back to normal. The only way to get rid of the effects if wireless radiation is to live in an EMF free environment. I bought the Acousticom2. This calibrated device is able to measure EMF. In this way I could find the rooms where the radiation is almost zero, or at least the less, where to put the bed, where the desk with computer. Of course all wireless is turned off, the smart meter is turned off, the Wi-Fi is turned off, also in the computer and printer. All is cabled, I do not have internet on my cellphone and mostly the cellphone is on flymodus.

#07. Skin and pH

When writing this post it is July 2021. We, humans all over the world, have an experience with skin and pH(power of Hydrogen) values, while knowing maybe not anything about pH and if not being aware of the fact, why the skin of the dorsal of their hands looks so incredible bad since the last year. Most probably this is caused by the antiseptic sprays (high percentage alcohol) at the entrance of all shops. Not one doctor, dermatologist, talks about it. However, when one uses a soap to wash hands it has to be skin neutral. They say.

Skin neutral?

The pH value of the skin is on all places of the body different. Therefore one uses an average pH value, which is about 5 or lesser. What exactly is causing the pH value of the skin? First one needs to know what exactly is “skin”. Skin is an organ which covers and protects all what is beneath the skin, and outside the skin. The skin is nourished by the food we eat. If we never eat a balanced food, concerning pH levels, acidic and alkaline, the skin will not be able to have a healthy pH level. The influence of too much acidic food, which is the most popular among humans in the “civilized” countries, influences of course the constitution of the skin, and its pH values.

Also influences from outside the skin, like air pollution, artificial electromagnetic radiation, burning sun rays, extreme temperature, contribute to the condition of the skin, and its pH. On health websites one claims that only soaps with a pH value that is similar with the skin pH are healthy for keeping a healthy skin. This would mean that swimming in the salty sea pH 8,2), or ocean (pH 8,2), even bathing in tap-water (pH value between 6,5 and 8,5) or taking a shower should be avoided.

The neutral pH level soaps are a mix of the normal alkalinity of soaps, and mostly several chemicals to achieve a lower pH level. These chemicals are more skin damaging than a normal soap ever can. With other words: a lot of industrial propaganda for their so-called neutral pH products should be suspected.

The term alkaline is a sort of curse in the ears of many, because of the industrial propaganda for their self created myths that a soap must have a neutral pH value. How can they explain the alkalinity of for instance breast milk(pH of 6,35-7,35)[1], the alkalinity of the skin of new-borns(pH value 7)[2], the alkalinity of the amniotic fluid(pH value 7,1-7,3)[3] in which the foetus swims before it is born? The foetus is extremely sensitive: imagine the damage that could be created in its development of organs, brains, eyes, blood vessels, nervous system, bones, skin…. Nature however found it better to let it swim in alkaline fluid, not in neutral fluid, neither in acidic fluid. The pH value of blood ranges between 7,35 and 7,45. It is the blood that nourishes the skin from inside, and the lymphatic fluid in the skin pours out the acidic waste to the surface of the skin. If the food habits of the human being are not healthy, unbalanced, too acidic, of course the blood will be more acidic and the skin as well. How high was the pH level of the skin of our ancestors? They washed with alkaline soap, without any problem. Skin problems occur because of an unhealthy life style, bad hygiene, the poisonous environment we live in, and the poisonous food people eat.

Healthy lymph have a pH that ranges between 7 and 10. The lymphatic system, part of the immune system, is a network of ducts that carry the lymphatic fluid (LF). LF also contains white blood cells called lymphocytes, fats, and proteins.[4]. The lymphatic system, made up of lymphatic fluid, tiny vessels, nodes and organs, is responsible for removing excess fluid, infections and acidic waste[5].

Viruses, Corona and pH

There are several publications about viruses and how they react to low or high pH values. The most of the publications contradict each other. Some write: Viruses thrive, like bacteria, in an acidic environment. Viruses infect body cells by binding to the proteins in the cells and then multiplying. Scientific research shows that this process mainly takes place at a low pH value or in an acidic environment. An acidic environment has a pH of 0 to 7. As the pH becomes more basic, the activity of viruses decreases sharply. Scientists have established this in various studies in numerous viruses in both humans and animals. The relationship between pH value and infection-increasing activities has been demonstrated in, among others, influenza1, corona2, hepatitis C3, foot-and-mouth disease4 and other viruses in animals. By increasing the alkaline buffer in your body, which improves the pH value of your body cells, the sensitivity to viruses in the body could decrease[6][7] More: [8][9]

Since scientists are not unanimously concluding that alkalinity of food, or body care products, create a not virus-friendly environment it is necessary to wait for more research.

Sources

  1. pH value of breastmilk – ScienceDirect
  2. Skin pH of a newborn baby – PubMed
  3. Amniotic fluid has a pH of 7.1 to 7.3. – Healthline
  4. pH value of healthy lymphatic fluids – Portland Press
  5. About lymphatic fluid – PrairieNaturals
  6. Viruses are pH sensitive – Reelyse
  7. The influence of pH on SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 severity – ResearchGate
  8. Conditions Favoring Increased COVID-19 Morbidity and Mortality: Their Common Denominator and its Early Treatment – PubMed
  9. What do we know so far about COVID-19 and alkalinity? Health Desk
  10. Additional information about pH values – Scientific Research, §6
  11. The Skin – Cretan Garden Blog

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