What Is Sarsaparilla?
The taste of sarsaparilla is similar to root beer and was introduced in western culture as a soft drink. Real sarsaparilla is actually a valuable herb with numerous uses. It has been used by the tribal people of South America for thousands of years.
It helps maintain the balance of the glandular system. Additionally, it also helps resolve issues such as:
- Natural testosterone and progesterone
- Hair loss problems
- Hot flashes
- Sexual problems
- Regulation of hormones in men and women.
- Congestive heart failure
- Urinary problems
- High blood pressure
- Arthritis discomfort
- Nervous system disorder
- Skin problems
It is also a medicinal remedy for liver problems and detoxifies the blood. It helps in breathing disorders and increases metabolism.
Other common names for sarsaparilla are Smilax, Jamaican sarsaparilla, and Honduran sarsaparilla. Sarsaparilla is now no longer used to treat skin infections, leprosy, and syphilis. Instead, it is used in herbal medications to balance hormones, boost immune function, and lower fluid retention.
Sarsaparilla is a perennial vine. It grows in temperate regions such as central and South America. The vines grow long and the roots are starchy and edible. The leaves, roots, and berries are used to make beverages and snacks.
The roots are also grounded to make natural medicinal preparations.
Some compounds possess anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties as well as some antioxidants. They give sarsaparilla its healing properties.
- Saponins: These chemical compounds taste bitter and have anti-inflammatory properties that help kill fungus, cancer cells, and some harmful micro-organisms. They can mimic natural reproductive hormones such as estrogen and testosterone. Almost 2 percent of saponin is present in sarsaparilla
- Plant sterol: Plant sterol is helpful for gut health, digestive health, and heart health. These sterols include stigmasterol, sitosterol, and pollinastano.
- Flavonoid antioxidant: These are present in fruits. They are associated with longevity, skin health, reduced inflammation, improved immune functions, and eye health.
- Starch: Starch provides fiber and other nutrients. The roots are starchy and contain 50 percent starch.
- Volatile oils and acids: These include shikimic acid, sarsapic acid, quercetin, kaempferol.
Other trace minerals include chromium, selenium, calcium, aluminum, zinc, and magnesium.
Below are the health benefits present in sarsaparilla.
1. For Cold and Fever
Symptoms such as coughing, respiratory difficulties, and fever are treated using sarsaparilla. Cold and flu are also prevented with the use sarsaparilla. Sarsaparilla provides a boost to the immune functions. Supplements and tea of sarsaparilla can prevent or eliminate the build-up of mucus in the respiratory system and sinuses. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of sarsaparilla help loosen phlegm and mucus, enabling them to pass easily from the body.
Herbal medicines may not always be useful for treating chronic respiratory conditions or bronchitis; however, sarsaparilla has been used to reduce the intensity of cough, the frequency of cough, and has also been known to clear up mucus. Sometimes it is helpful to reduce nausea and regulate the bowel function in cases of fever and stomach upset.
2. Promotes Hormonal Balance
Sarsaparilla is used to boost libido and treat impotence. It helps balance male and female hormones, which is why it is often used as an ingredient in various supplements.
Evidence has shown that many menopausal symptoms can be relieved by using saponins, which is also referred to as a natural steroid. Smilax ornate in supplements is used to enhance libido and treat impotence. Research suggests that sarsaparilla has plant steroids and saponins. They mimic the action of natural reproductive hormones such as estrogen and testosterones. Sarsaparilla stimulates the production of growth hormones.
Gonorrhea and syphilis symptoms can be alleviated using sarsaparilla. Men use sarsaparilla to improve fertility, improve sexual function, stop hair loss, and add muscle mass to the body.
3. Skin Ailments
Due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, sarsaparilla has been used to treat an array of skin ailments such as eczema, psoriasis, minor wounds, bites, acne, and rashes in South America.
A study in which topical application of sarsaparilla on psoriasis was conducted in 1949. The results observed were that it helped to improve the condition and severity of the symptoms in almost 40 percent of the patients.
The anti-inflammatory properties also help to prevent swelling, redness, and discomfort. Dry and itchy skin can be eliminated by the soothing properties of this root tea. Studies have also shown that sarsaparilla decreases peeling, itching, and the formation of blotches.
Sarsaparilla has the capability to stimulate urine production and also promote sweating. It has diuretic properties. Any build-up of fluid, swelling, and puffiness can be relieved by using sarsaparilla. It prevents bacterial cells in the gastrointestinal tract from doing any damage in the blood stream by binding to them. Metallic contaminants can be eliminated from the blood using sarsaparilla.
Due to its ability to stimulate detoxification, sarsaparilla overall increases the function of the kidney and liver. It prevents toxins from entering the blood stream; thus, improving the liver and circulation of blood.
To improve the process of digestion, special preparations are made from the root. The root contains phytochemicals, which help in increasing the level of secretion that aids in digestion. Indian sarsaparilla is similar to the digestive bitters used in America.
6. Sleep and Dreaming
Sarsaparilla promotes uninterrupted sleep and increases dream activity.
7. Anti-Tumor Properties
The extracts from sarsaparilla root help to prevent cancer or treat it naturally. This is because of the natural steroids and saponins present in the roots. A study conducted in china found some bioactive compounds in sarsaparilla that induced apoptosis and inhibited growth without damaging the healthy cells. These bioactive compounds were flavonoids, phenylpropanoids, and alkaloids.
8. Nervous Disorder
Mix one teaspoon of root stock in one cup of water. Have it twice daily. It can be used to treat a number of nervous disorders.
Sarsaparilla Root Tea
The tea is made from the roots of sarsaparilla. It is inherited from Central and South America. It possesses essential nutrients such as flavonoids, sarsapic acid, dextrose, saponins, and omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, this tea also has antibiotic, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Boil the roots in water and pour one cup of the boiled water over one teaspoon of the roots. Allow the mixture to steep for 30 minutes, then drain the liquid and consume the tea several times daily. This drink is great for colds, fever, and coughs.
- Sarsaparilla enhances memory, muscular and digestive support, and sexual performance.
- The tea can be externally applied on small cuts and scrapes. This can protect from bacterial infection.
- Since it is a weak diuretic and laxative, sarsaparilla is used to remove excess water from the body and treat constipation.
- Symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism can be relieved using sarsaparilla. It also prevents gout.
- Sarsaparilla provides protection against radiation.
- It is used to cure joint pain, headache, and cold.
- When the sarsaparilla tea is taken hot, it induces sweating. This helps to break fevers.
Possible Side Effects
On rare occasions, sarsaparilla has been known to cause allergic reactions and stomach upset. Consult your doctor before using sarsaparilla.
Because there are not many studies available to prove its effectiveness during pregnancy, it is advised to avoid using this herb while pregnant.