Sarsaparilla (American Aralia nudicaulis)
Sarsaparilla is a thorny vine-like evergreen plant native to South America, Latin America, Mexico and the Caribbean. It was exported to Europe in 1530 where it was mainly used as a frothing agent in soft drinks like root beer.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Sarsaparilla was thought to cure venereal disease like gonorrhea and syphilis. It was widely used as a spring tonic. It is used for gout, colds, fevers, rheumatism, arthritis and flatulence. It is a diuretic herb. It is thought to stimulate the production of hormones in the reproductive system. It is thought to increase testosterone and progesterone, as well as being an aphrodisiac and a treatment for impotence.
It is thought that that the herb has the ability to remove heavy metals from the body. It is used as an anti-inflammatory and cleansing herb. Some women take it to help with menstrual problems and menopause. Some say it helps depression. In Mexico, the herb is used to treat cancer.
Externally Sarsaparilla herbal tea can be used as a wash or compress for skin irritations like acne, psoriasis, eczema, leprosy, fungal infections like ringworm and itching. Studies have borne out these uses for this herb. The herb has mild antibacterial properties. It can be used to wash herpes lesions and other genital sores, as well as a hot fomentation for painful arthritis.
Other Uses Sarsaparilla has been used to foam soft drinks.
Herbs to Combine/Supplement
Sarsaparilla is in a combination formula that athletes can take legally to improve their performance. It can also be combined with yellow dock and thyme to treat venereal disease.
Roots The root is the portion that is used in medicinal herbal remedies.
Sarsaparilla should not be taken by pregnant or lactating women. Excessive amounts may cause stomach upset. If you take blood-thinning medications, do not take this herb. Men with prostate problems should not use. People with kidney problems or diabetes should use with caution. It may make some medications more effective or potent so be sure to let your physician know before you take this herb.
Preparation and Dosage
A standard dosage of sarsaparilla is to take an extract or tea two or three times per day. For herbal tea, add 1 to 4 grams of dried root to 1 cup of hot water and steep for 10 minutes. Strain the liquid before drinking. The tea can also be used topically for skin problems or as a compress.
For extract, the standard dosage is 2 to 3 teaspoons of extract. For capsules, follow the directions on the label.