JAMAICA. Sarsaparilla (Smilax regelii) Root, Cut and Sifted, Wild Harvested
Common names: Jamaica Sarsaparilla, Anantamoo, Jupicanga, Khao Yen, Liseron Epineux, Wild Licorice
Sarsaparilla (Smilax regelii or S. ornata) is a perennial trailing and climbing vine with prickly stems, native to tropical Central America and southern Mexico.
Sarsaparilla gained fame among Europeans in the 1500s as a cure for syphilis, and its use for that disease by Eclectic physicians is noted in their textbooks as recently as the early 20th century. It is also used to brew the popular soft drinks known as sarsaparilla and root beer.
It contains flavonoids, phytosterols, and steroidal saponins with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions that makes it useful for conditions involving the skin, joints, and connective tissue, including psoriasis, gout, arthritis (osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis) with heat and swelling, as well as bursitis and colitis.
Other Smilax species containing related saponin compounds have a long history of similar uses in Chinese medicine for inflammatory conditions. (As is often the case, using the botanical name is essential for research into herbal literature, since other species in the genus, from both Eastern and Western hemispheres, are also sometimes called Sarsaparilla.)
Although the herb does not contain testosterone or estrogen, nor has it been shown to directly stimulate sex hormone production, it has been given for aphrodisiac effects, to increase muscle mass, and as a tonic during menopause.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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