SARSAPARILLA (Smilax officinalis)

Family: Smilacaceae

Parts commonly used: Dried root and rhizome.

Properties/energetics: Alterative, restorative, antirheumatic, diuretic, diaphoretic/Cold, moist; sweet, spicy.

Systems predominantly affected:  Genitourinary, blood, musculoskeletal, skin.

Uses: Sarsaparilla’s mode of action in the human body is poorly understood. It seems, however, to be useful as an alterative and possibly as an anabolic agent. Concerning its alterative activity, there is at least some research that shows Sarsaparilla is capable of binding endotoxins (toxins released when the bodies of bacteria are broken down) in the intestines. This helps to take the toxic load off the liver and supports Sarsaparilla’s use as a blood purifier in conditions such as psoriasis and arthritis. Sarsaparilla is being touted as an anabolic agent and, as such, weight lifters and other athletes trying to put on some extra muscle mass are using it. Some of the plant’s constituents can be transformed into testosterone in a laboratory, but this does not mean such a change necessarily occurs in the body. Empirical observation suggests, however, that Sarsaparilla may possess some mild androgen-like effect and can serve as a reasonable sexual tonic and anabolic toner.

Combinations: Combines with Saw Palmetto and Echinacea for nourishing and toning the male reproductive organs. Combines well with Burdock, Cleavers, and Milk Thistle for treating highly irritated psoriasis or dry, scaling eczema. Combines with Sassafras and Dandelion as a blood purifier and tonic.

Affects on specific body types: Sarsaparilla is a good general anabolic agent for the Seer. Its root, high in restorative saponins, helps guard against a depleting catabolic activity. It replenishes deficiency conditions and is particularly useful as a prostate tonic in this individual. This plant is a good, gentle cleanser for the Seer, whose weak digestion, combined with a high-meat, low-fiber diet, can accumulate endotoxins that lead to a toxic blood condition. It’s also an appropriate alterative for the Seer to prevent and treat skin and musculoskeletal problems.

Preparations/dosage: Decoction: 1 cup three times a day. (Drink strong and hot to promote sweating for colds and fevers.) Tincture: 15 to 25 drops three times a day.

By James Green, Herbalist, copyright 2008

For more information please refer to James Green’s book, The Male Herbal, 2nd Edition