Read the following passage and answer the questions that follow.
Before the advent of soap, the primary cleansing agent in ancient India was taken from soap nuts (reetha) from the plant Sapindus saponaria. The literal translation of Sapindus is sap = soap and indus = India. In other words, soap from India!
The nut was used in ancient China as well and its usage spread from India to Middle Asia and then Europe. Soap nuts are boiled to soften them up, and then crushed to filter out the essence which contains the all-important cleansing chemicals. It lathers but in small quantities. Ancient India also used shikai or shikakai (a variant of the acacia plant) as a hair and body cleanser.
The skincare routines of ancient Indians involved the addition of a variety of herbs such as turmeric, tulsi (holy basil), neem (bark and leaves), lotus petals and sandalwood paste amongst others which were common ingredients in their skincare creams. Another worth mentioning soap in skin care is the Aleppo soap, which originated from the Syrian city of Aleppo. This is considered one of the purest soaps as it is made with all natural ingredients. Aleppo soap does not dry out the skin. It also moisturises and nourishes the skin and is purported to benefit a host of skin problems such as eczema, skin breakouts, inflammatory skin conditions, insect bites, and skin infections. However, the exact origin of the soap Is lost in time with the earliest written record dating as far back as the 8th Century AD. After the Crusades, European nations adopted Aleppo soap and started producing their own variations. However, the ancient city of Aleppo thrived on trade for thousands of years, famous for being the endpoint of the illustrious Silk Road trade route that bridged the East and the West.
Generations of merchant families and manufacturers made the unique soap for thousands of years and the formulation has remained surprisingly unchanged in all this time retaining its original form. Olive oil, sweet bay (laurel) oil, sodium hydroxide and water are the main ingredients of this soap. Bay (Laurus nobilis) has remarkable antibacterial and antifungal properties, and could explain some of the benefits of this soap in conditions such as acne, insect bites and skin infections.
The main theme of the passage is:
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