Information about the Herb Sarsaparilla

Smilax ornata, also known as Jamaica Sarsaparilla is part of the Liliaceae plant family. Sarsaparilla originates from central America, especially Costa Rica.

General Information

Botanical Name: Smilax ornata

Plant Family: Liliaceae

Common name: Jamaica Sarsaparilla, Red-bearded Sarsaparilla, Smilax medica

History: The word Sarsaparilla comes from the Spanish word Sarza meaning ‘a bramble’ and parilla, ‘a vine’.Jamaica Sarsaparilla derived its name from being exported to Europe through Jamaica.

  • Native American Indians used Sarsaparilla for a wide variety of ailments
  • Pirates used Sarsaparilla for syphilis
  • Used since the 16th century for syphilis


It was thought:

  • to be an antidote to deadly poisons
  • that if given to a newborn it would make it immune to all poisons

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Plant Constituents of Sarsaparilla


  • active principle, Parillin (Smilacin)
  • glucoside
  • sarsapic acid
  • sarsapogenin (related to progesterone and used in its synthesis)
  • sarsaponin
  • starch

and the Fatty Acids:

  • palmitic acid
  • stearic acid
  • behenic acid
  • oleic acid
  • linolic acid


  • alterative [an agent capable of favorably altering or changing unhealthy conditions of the body and tending to restore normal bodily function, usually by improving nutrition]
  • blood purifier
  • diaphoretic [an agent that promotes perspiration]
  • diuretic [an agent that increases the volume and flow of urine which cleanses the urinary system]
    immune system suppressant
  • mild gastric irritant
  • pectoral [remedy for pulmonary or other lung and chest diseases]
  • tonic [an agent that tones, strengthens and invigorates organs or the entire organism giving a feeling of well-being]

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Usage of Sarsaparilla

Medicinal Parts Used: Root

Sarsaparilla is used for:

Bacterial and Viral Conditions

  • retro-viruses, e.g. herpes, HIV etc.
  • syphilis

Genitourinary Conditions

  • gout

Inflammatory Conditions

  • rheumatism

Respiratory Tract Conditions

  • coughs and colds

The smoke of Sarsaparilla is used for:

  • asthma


  • abscesses
  • ulcers

Externally, Sarsaparilla is used for:

  • abscesses
  • rheumatism
  • skin diseases
  • ulcers

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Drug Interactions:

Do not use Sarsaparilla without first talking to your practitioner or healthcare provider if you are taking any of the following medications:

  • None indicated


Global Herbal Supplies has Sarsaparilla available in the following forms:

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