For centuries, indigenous people around the world used the root of the sarsaparilla plant for treating joint problems like arthritis, and for healing skin problems like psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis. The root was also thought to cure leprosy due to its “blood-purifying” properties.
Sarsaparilla was later introduced into European medicine and eventually registered as an herb in the Unites States Pharmacopoeia to treat syphilis.
The sarsaparilla roots are believed to have a number of positive attributes medicinally. Among them, a tea made of the roots was used by the Native Americans to treat colds, coughs, ringworm and other skin diseases (Cichoke). A tonic made of sarsaparilla was used as both a blood cleanser and a treatment for general disease. It was also used as an aphrodisiac.
The sarsaparilla root has been used medicinally for centuries. It is sometimes used in alternative medicine today, and it has been studied to a degree by modern scientists. Some health claims may be accurate if preliminary studies are correct; however, some claims are false or have yet to be investigated.
In old folk medicine and alternative medicine, you run across often-unsubstantiated claims that the sarsaparilla root is effective in a variety of ways, including:
- Preventing and treating cancer
- Lowering inflammation
- Increasing sex drive
- Boosting the immune system
- Improving weight loss
- Treating skin problems (such as dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis)
- Detoxifying the body
- Relieving digestive problems
- Improving kidney health
- Increasing muscle mass from working out
- Treating syphilis
The beneficial phytochemicals in the root of the sarsaparilla plant have been shown to have anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and skin and joint healing effects. Sarsaparilla is considered safe for most people, but be wary of false claims. The herb hasn’t been proven to successfully cure cancer or other diseases, and there’s no evidence that it contains anabolic steroids often sought by bodybuilders.
You can consume sarsaparilla in tea, tonic, tincture or capsule form. Tea is the most popular way to consume the many beneficial compounds found within sarsaparilla roots.
If you wish to take sarsaparilla for a medical condition, you should speak to a doctor before you start. Though sarsaparilla has been shown to help with certain medical problems, it may not be the most effective treatment for your particular condition. Even if you think sarsaparilla will help, your doctor may recommend that you only use sarsaparilla in conjunction with modern medical treatments, or not at all.