May 24, 2016

Sarsaparilla

font size


What other names is Sarsaparilla known by?

Ecuadorian Sarsaparilla, Honduras Sarsaparilla, Jamaican Sarsaparilla, Liseron Épineux, Liseron Piquant, Mexican Sarsaparilla, Salsaparilha, Salsepareille, Salsepareille d'Europe, Salsepareille du Honduras, Salsepareille du Mexique, Sarsa, Sarsaparillae Radix, Sarsaparillewurzel, Smilax, Smilax Aristolochaefolia, Smilax Aristolochiaefolii, Smilax aristolochiifolia, Smilax china, Smilax febrifuga, Smilax medica, Smilax officinalis, Smilax ornate, Smilax regelii, Zarzaparrilla.

What is Sarsaparilla?

Sarsaparilla is a plant. The root is used to make medicine.

Sarsaparilla is used for treating psoriasis and other skin diseases, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and kidney disease; for increasing urination to reduce fluid retention; and for increasing sweating. Sarsaparilla is also used along with conventional drugs for treating leprosy and for syphilis.

Athletes sometimes use sarsaparilla as a steroid for performance enhancement or bodybuilding. Some supplement makers claim that chemicals (sterols) in sarsaparilla can be converted to anabolic steroids like testosterone. But this is a false claim. The sterols contained in sarsaparilla are not anabolic steroids nor are they converted in the body to anabolic steroids. Testosterone has never been detected in any plant, including sarsaparilla.

Mexican and Honduran sarsaparillas are used for treating gonorrhea, fevers, and digestive disorders.

In manufacturing, sarsaparilla is used as a flavoring agent in foods, beverages, and pharmaceuticals.

In the American "Old West," sarsaparilla was the most popular drink of the cowboys.

Don't confuse sarsaparilla with Indian or false sarsaparilla (Hemidesmus indicus, Family: Apocyanaceae). There are reports that this false sarsaparilla is a common impurity found in sarsaparilla preparations. False sarsaparilla contains none of the possibly active chemicals found in true sarsaparilla (Smilax febrifuga, Family: Smilacaceae).

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Psoriasis. Sarsaparilla extracts may improve psoriasis symptoms.
  • Digestive problems. Sarsaparilla may improve appetite and digestion.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Kidney problems.
  • Fluid retention.
  • Syphilis.
  • Gonorrhea.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of sarsaparilla for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


Therapeutic Research Faculty copyright

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


Women's Health

Find out what women really need.

advertisement
advertisement
Use Pill Finder Find it Now See Interactions

Pill Identifier on RxList

  • quick, easy,
    pill identification

Find a Local Pharmacy

  • including 24 hour, pharmacies

Interaction Checker

  • Check potential drug interactions
Search the Medical Dictionary for Health Definitions & Medical Abbreviations