Sarsaparilla Herb - Uses And Side Effects
In the Old West of the United States, sarsaparilla was the cowboys' drink of choice. The U.S. Pharmacopoeia listed this herb as a syphilis treatment from 1820 to 1910-a use that stretches back to the 16th century. Today, we know sarsaparilla isn't effective against syphilis-yet its reputation as a medicinal herb remains intact. Currently, the Food and Drug Administration accepts sarsaparilla only as a flavoring agent.
This plant derived its name from being exported to Europe through Jamaica. The word Sarsaparilla comes from the Spanish Sarza , meaning a bramble, and parilla , a vine, in allusion to the thorny stems of the plant. This is a non-mealy Sarsaparilla. It is a large perennial climber, rhizome underground, large, short, knotted, with thickened nodes and roots spreading up to 6 or 8 feet long. Stems erect, semiwoody, with very sharp prickles 1/2 inch long. Leaves large, alternate stalked, almost evergreen with prominent veins, seven nerved mid-rib very strongly marked. Flowers and fruit not known. Cortex thick and brownish, with an orange red tint; when chewed it tinges the saliva, and gives a slightly bitter and mucilaginous taste, followed by a very acrid one; it contains a small proportion of starch, also a glucoside, sarsaponin, sarsapic acid, and fatty acids, palmitic, stearic, behenic, oleic and linolic.
Many different species are called by the general name sarsaparilla. Various species are found in Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean. The root is used in herbal medicine.
Common doses of Sarsaparilla
Sarsaparilla comes as:
Some experts recommend the following dose:
Uses of Sarsaparilla herb
Sarsaparilla contains constituents with properties that aid testosterone activity in the body. Specifically, sarsaparilla may help to :-
Side effects of Sarsaparilla
Call your health care practitioner if you experience any of these possible side effects of sarsaparilla:
This herb also can cause:
Are there any interactions?
Combining herbs with certain drugs may alter their action or produce unwanted side effects. Tell your health care practitioner about any prescription or nonprescription drugs you're taking, especially:
Don't use sarsaparilla while taking digoxin.
Important points to remember
What the research shows
Researchers have tested sarsaparilla's ability to treat psoriasis (scaly, raised skin patches) and enhance athletic performance. In the best-known study, psoriasis patients received either sarsaponin (a major sarsaparilla component) or a placebo. Those who received sarsaponin had fewer symptoms and flare-ups. However, flaws in the study design prevented firm conclusions about sarsaparilla's effectiveness against psoriasis.
Because sarsaparilla contains steroids, some people have used it to boost athletic performance. However, research shows that the herb's steroids aren't anabolic, meaning they probably don't do much for athletes. No study results are available to support sarsaparilla's use as a diuretic or digestive aid.
Other names for Sarsaparilla
Other names for sarsaparilla include Ecuadorian sarsaparilla, Honduran sarsaparilla, Jamaican sarsaparilla, Mexican sarsaparilla, salsaparilha, salsepareille, sarsa, sarsaparilla root, and Smilax.
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