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Sarsaparilla Root

Veterinarian Reviewed on June 15, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized

Sarsaparilla Root


Sarsaparilla (Smilax regelli) is a perennial plant that is native to the rainforests of South America, Jamaica and the Caribbean. It is also found in the forests of Asia and Australia. This very long vine can reach up to 50 feet in length and has a fragrant root often referred to as the Sarsaparilla root. Sarsaparilla root is the most common part of the Sarsaparilla vine that is used for medicinal purposes.

The Sarsaparilla root is used as a blood purifier and an overall health tonic to boost energy and stamina. It has also antibacterial and anti inflammatory properties as well.

History and Origin

The name Sarsaparilla came from the Spanish words sarza meaning bramble and parilla which means wine. The indigenous tribes of South and Central America have used Sarsaparilla root for many centuries as a treatment for the inflammatory symptoms of rheumatism and to cure skin ailments and impotence. Traders during the New World era have brought the Sarsaparilla to Europe and were widely used as a tonic and blood purifier. It was also used as a cure for syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases. Sarsaparilla was also used as a flavor for a soft drink also known for the same name. It is also the main ingredient in old fashioned root beer.

Ancient Uses

During ancient times, the Sarsaparilla root was noted to provide a general state of well being when used as a tonic. American tribes thought that the Sarsaparilla vine had many medicinal properties that are used to cure many types of illnesses from respiratory problems to gastrointestinal diseases.

Modern Uses

Sarsaparilla has been considered as an herb in the United States. It has been known as a treatment for purifying and detoxifying the blood. It is also an essential treatment for viral and bacterial infections that cause syphilis, gonorrhea and other viral diseases. Studies are also being conducted regarding the use of Sarsaparilla root for the treatment of psoriasis; boils, abscesses and other severe skin conditions.

Sarsaparilla root extracts may also be effective in the treatment of symptoms related to rheumatism such as joint pain, swelling and inflammation. It may also be a significant remedy in the treatment of gout since it acts as a diuretic excreting uric acid.
There are also some studies regarding the ability of the Sarsaparilla root to enhance the body’s natural hormones in both men and in women. The increase in the production of testosterone may increase male sexual drive and women may benefit from the treatment of the symptoms of menopause.

Sarsaparilla root has been used as a muscle builder by some body builders since it is a better alternative to steroids that have many harmful side effects.

Side Effects

Taking Sarsaparilla root extracts as a tea or in supplement form have known to have no side effects whatsoever. There are no known drug interactions either. If you want to use Sarsaparilla root for its herbal benefits, consult your doctor regarding its use and dosage. Ask for any effects on the current medications that you have as well.

Read also: Herbal Treatments for High Cholesterol

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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