En Español (Spanish Version) Smilax officinalis, Other Smilax spp
Vine-like plants in the sarsaparilla family are found in many parts of the world. The most common form, Smilax officinalis, is grown primarily in Jamaica. Other common forms include S. glyciphylla (Australia), S. japicanga (Brazil), S. glabra (Sri Lanka), S. china (China), and S. luzonensis (Malaysia). The root is the part used medicinally.
Traditionally, various forms of sarsaparilla have been use to treat cancer, psoriasis, eczema, and other skin diseases. These uses are all tied together by an outdated treatment concept known as “blood purification.” It was thought that numerous ailments, including skin diseases, cancer, and other conditions, were due to impurities in the blood. Herbs said to have blood purifying properties, such as sarsaparilla, were used to correct this traditionally acknowledged problem.
Additionally, sarsaparilla was recommended for joint pain, “female problems,” and syphilis.
An entirely different plant, Aralia nudicaulis, is sometimes called “Wild Sarsaparilla.” However, it is more closely related to ginseng than to the forms of sarsaparilla discussed here.
Sarsaparilla should also not be confused with sassafras, a flavoring traditionally used in root beer.
Last reviewedAugust 2013by EBSCO CAM Review Board
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.