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Scientific name: Smilax officinalis or Smilax ornata
Other names: Red sarsaparilla, Small spikenard, Spignet, Quay, Quill
Habitat: The species is indigenous to tropical and subtropical regions of America, eastern Asia and India. In Europe, only the variety S. aspera is found in the Mediterranean region.

Chemical constituents

Glycosides, steroids, steroidal saponins, essential oil, parillin resin, sarsaponin, sitosterol, stigmasten.


Sarsaparilla consists of the dried root of Smilax officinalis and Smilax ornata in addition to other Smilax species, such as Smilax aristolochiaefolii, Smilax regelii and Smilax febrifuga. The plant is collected in the wild from January to May. The roots are cut up and air-dried.

Parts Used Medicinally

Root, rhizome.

The medicinal parts are the dried roots, the entire underground part and the tuberous swellings produced by the runners.


Principal: Skin disorders such as psoriasis & eczema, rheumatoid arthritis
Minor: Inflammation of the urinary


Sarsaparilla cleanses and purifies the blood. As such, sarsaparilla root is indicated for skin diseases and will clear up skin disorders such as acne, psoriasis, eczema and purulent extremities (limbs, hands, feet), rheumatic disorders and kidney diseases. Sarsaparilla is a diuretic and a diaphoretic (causing sweating), a carminative for reducing intestinal gas. It is used for venereal diseases including chronic gonorrhea, urinary tract irritation and fluid retention. Because of the steroidal components it can reduce the pain of arthritis. Sarsaparilla is also used in regulating hormone balance, as such, is used to help with PMS. It is also said to help with frigidity (an inability to find pleasure, in sexual intercourse) and to relieve gas from stomach and bowels and to aid with sciatica.

Amazon Indians used sarsaparilla to cure general debilities. As an alterative tea it is best prepared with Burdock (Arctium lappa). It is said to be one of the best herbs for infants infected with venereal diseases and an excellent antidote for poison.

Externally: A strong tea is used for skin infections. Use the root to make ointments for swelling, rheumatic pains, boils, carbuncles.


Root and Rhizome:Cold Infusion or Strong Decoction, 1-4 ounces (or 1/2 cup), 3 times daily day.
Tincture: (Fresh Root, 1:2, Dry Root, 1:5, 60% alcohol) – 30-90 drops, 3 times daily.
Capsules: 4 “O” capsules, 3 times daily.


None known.


Stomach complaints and queasiness may occur in rare cases.


Treatise On Occult Medicine And Practical Magic By Samael Aun Weor
Herbal Materia Medica fifth edition by Michael Moore
Herbal Monographs including Herbal Medicinal Products and Food Supplements by Maria Spiteri
The Genesis Plan – Home Herbalism Hint
The Natural Remedies Encyclopedia
A Handbook of Native American Herbs by Alma Hutchens

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