Sarsaparilla

View Slideshow Pictures

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...

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).

Quick GuideVitamin D Deficiency: How Much Vitamin D Is Enough?

Vitamin D Deficiency: How Much Vitamin D Is Enough?

How does Sarsaparilla work?

Chemicals in sarsaparilla might help decrease joint pain and itching, and might also reduce bacteria. Other chemicals might combat pain and swelling (inflammation), and also protect the liver against toxins.

Are there safety concerns?

Sarsaparilla seems safe for most people when used as a medicine. It might cause stomach irritation, especially when used in larger amounts.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of sarsaparilla during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Asthma: Exposure to sarsaparilla root dust can cause runny nose and the symptoms of asthma.

Kidney disease: Sarsaparilla might make kidney disease worse. Avoid sarsaparilla if you have kidney problems.

Are there any interactions with medications?



Digoxin (Lanoxin)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Digoxin (Lanoxin) helps the heart beat more strongly. Sarsaparilla might increase how much digoxin (Lanoxin) the body absorbs. By increasing how much digoxin (Lanoxin) the body absorbs sarsaparilla might increase the effects and side effects of digoxin (Lanoxin).



Lithium
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Sarsaparilla might have an effect like a water pill or "diuretic." Taking sarsaparilla might decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium. This could increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects. Talk with your healthcare provider before using this product if you are taking lithium. Your lithium dose might need to be changed.

Dosing considerations for Sarsaparilla.

The appropriate dose of sarsaparilla depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for sarsaparilla. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

FDA Logo

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.

Reviewed on 3/29/2011 12:35:40 PM

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors