Sarsaparilla - The Herb

Page Summary:
Sarsaparilla - Uses, Benefits, Properties, Description, Effects and Details of Sarsaparilla explanation and other information*
 

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Common Name/s: Other Name/s: Botanical  name/s:
Sarsaparilla Jamaican Sarsaparilla, American Sarsaparilla,
Grey Sarsaparilla,
Vera Cruz Sarsaparilla,
Honduras Sarsaparilla
Smilax Officinalis,
Smilax Ornata
Smilax Aristolochiaefolia

General description and domicile:
The domicile of this very large family of plants is not easy to distill from the many sources I have as they are somewhat in conflict, not only on domicile but also on which species should be included as Sarsaparilla.
It certainly is true that the current herbal remedy originated from the medicinal use of the plants that were growing in the West Indies and Central America but before that the ancient Greeks were using a European equivalent primarily against poisoning and syphilis.
The Jamaican Sarsaparilla was only called that because most exports to Europe was from the harbor in Jamaica, not necessarily grown in Jamaica.
The plant grows in virtually every country and island off tropical America and has evolved into many sub-species from Granada to the Andes that are too many to list. They may have minor physical differences like leaves, size of roots and color and shape of stem but from what I can gather there are no significant variations in constituent any more than you would get from the identical specie that has been grown in different soils, rainfall and climate.
The soft drink Sarsaparilla was made from the American Sarsaparilla.
It was only in the sixteenth century that the "Jamaican" Sarsaparilla was introduced into Europe where it was originally used for syphilis, a general tonic and later for rheumatism and asthma.
Scientists, in later years dismissed Sarsaparilla as a cure for syphilis but quite recently it has become apparent that although it may not cure syphilis it does have beneficial effects.
 

Remedy Profile
Major therapeutic effects:
Rheumatism

Skin conditions

Psoriases

Blood pressure

Fluid retention

Do not use Sarsaparilla or any diuretic while pregnant.

Minor therapeutic effects:
Syphilis - ? See comments in general description above.

How to choose the right remedy/Herb:
In many cases there are several herbal remedies to choose from. This can be very confusing. Our Choose the Herbal Remedy page explains how to refine your choice

Part used:
The root and rhizome

Remedy preparation:
Decoction, infusion, tincture

Properties:
Diuretic
Hepatic
Alterative
Antipruritic
Anti-inflammatory
Antiseptic

Constituents:

Saponins: Wound healing, anti-scarring. Saponins occur as glycosides with aglycone structures that are steroidal or terpenoid. Saponins can cause the destruction of red blood cells if injected causing anaemia or worse. Ingested saponins are poorly absorbed in the digestive system reducing the risk of poisoning but care must be taken on dosage as Saponins are mucus membrane irritants.

Many herbs containing saponins have been identified as "adaptogens" also referred to as harmony remedies (see: The Root of being: Ginseng and the Pharmacology of Harmony - Stephen Fulder 1980). Instead of being purely remedial herbs these adaptogens improves and energizes vitality and resistance thereby keeping ailments at bay. It is claimed that these adaptogens can improve mental functions like learning speed, awareness and alertness as well as help with emotional and intellectual stress. As a tonic they will also reduce the risk of infections by stimulating the immune system.

Saponins are also expectorant, anti-inflammatory, hepaprotective, combats cholesterol build up and antifungal.

Sitosterol: Sitosterol, a sterol, is very important for the maintenance of cell membranes.

Sterols: Most sterols play a big part in the makeup of cell membranes. Sterols are used to make steroidal medication and drugs. Sterols may interfere with the development of tumours and assist in the regulation of cholesterol, but this has not been fully established yet.

Stigmasterol: An essential component of cell membrane. Stigmasterol is a Phytosterol.

Phytosterols: A Triterpenoid. It is believed that Phytosterols play a role in the inhibition of tumour growth and control of cholesterol in the blood.

Triterpenoid Saponins: A glycoside with triterpenoid aglycone structures.

Saponins: Wound healing, anti-scarring. Saponins occur as glycosides with aglycone structures that are steroidal or terpenoid. Saponins can cause the destruction of red blood cells if injected causing anaemia or worse. Ingested saponins are poorly absorbed in the digestive system reducing the risk of poisoning but care must be taken on dosage as Saponins are mucus membrane irritants.

Many herbs containing saponins have been identified as "adaptogens" also referred to as harmony remedies (see: The Root of being: Ginseng and the Pharmacology of Harmony - Stephen Fulder 1980). Instead of being purely remedial herbs these adaptogens improves and energizes vitality and resistance thereby keeping ailments at bay. It is claimed that these adaptogens can improve mental functions like learning speed, awareness and alertness as well as help with emotional and intellectual stress. As a tonic they will also reduce the risk of infections by stimulating the immune system.

Saponins are also expectorant, anti-inflammatory, hepaprotective, combats cholesterol build up and antifungal.

 

Kaempferol - C15H10O6:

Kaempferol is a flavonoid.
 

Flavonoids: Flavonoids occur (as white and yellow plant pigments found almost as commonly as chlorophyll) as Glycosides or in a free state. In plants it is essential for protecting plant tissue from UV radiation and acts as antioxidants. As pigments it is also responsible for Autumn colors in leaves and yellow/red pigmentation in flowers.

Laboratory experiments have been conducted on the beneficiary effect of Flavonoids on the heart and circulatory system. Flavonoids are also used to mitigate stress, especially environmental stress. Flavonoids are often used for their antioxidant effect against free radicals. There are also strong indications that they have antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive properties but dosage has not been determined which will obviously have a profound effect on their efficacy as a component of this herb.

Quercetin:
A Flavonoid

Flavonoids: Flavonoids occur (as white and yellow plant pigments found almost as commonly as chlorophyll) as Glycosides or in a free state. In plants it is essential for protecting plant tissue from UV radiation and acts as antioxidants. As pigments it is also responsible for Autumn colors in leaves and yellow/red pigmentation in flowers.

Laboratory experiments have been conducted on the beneficiary effect of Flavonoids on the heart and circulatory system. Flavonoids are also used to mitigate stress, especially environmental stress. Flavonoids are often used for their antioxidant effect against free radicals. There are also strong indications that they have antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive properties but dosage has not been determined which will obviously have a profound effect on their efficacy as a component of this herb.

Polyphenols - Flavonoids: Affecting the cardiovascular system flavonoids protect against environmental stress and pollution. Based on studies a correlation was found with improved cardiovascular function. A similar study found the same trend in respect of strokes. general effects of flavenoids: antioxidant, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive while specific actions are membrane strengthening and antioxidant.

Flavonoids: Flavonoids occur (as white and yellow plant pigments found almost as commonly as chlorophyll) as Glycosides or in a free state. In plants it is essential for protecting plant tissue from UV radiation and acts as antioxidants. As pigments it is also responsible for Autumn colors in leaves and yellow/red pigmentation in flowers.

Laboratory experiments have been conducted on the beneficiary effect of Flavonoids on the heart and circulatory system. Flavonoids are also used to mitigate stress, especially environmental stress. Flavonoids are often used for their antioxidant effect against free radicals. There are also strong indications that they have antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive properties but dosage has not been determined which will obviously have a profound effect on their efficacy as a component of this herb.

 

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