Sarsaparilla Medicinal Herb
can eliminate wastes from the body through urination and perspiration

Sarsaparilla: By J.M.Garg (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Sarsaparilla (Smilax regelii) medicinal herb is a plant that is native to Central America, China, Costa Rica and India, where it is known as Hemidesmus indicus. It is now growing wild in the West Indies as well as Latin America.  However, this is one herb that I am familiar with because it is very common in Jamaica.

The medicinal properties are carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, laxative, digestive as well as tonic. The main part used as herbal medicine is the root and it is from the family of Araliaceae. 

The main part used as herbal medicine is the rhizome or the root. In the 17th century, it was imported into Europe where it was used as a treatment for venereal diseases and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

It is still used in India as a cure for syphilis.  I really wonder at times why the professionals fail to enlighten the people about these natural remedies. 

We need to get back to days of the natives when all they used for their ailments were herbs inclusive of sarsaparilla.  I think we would be enjoying better health today.

It can also be found in Jamaica where it is widely used.   The best root comes from Honduras, Mexico and Jamaica.  

The root is popular in making tonics, sodas and other products such as tea bags. It forms a part of Jamaica's heritage, folklore and culture and that is the reason our elders knew so much about it.

While growing up in the country, where I was also born, I heard that name constantly because it was popularly used by older members of my household.

I grew up hearing my grandmother talking about this medicinal herb frequently.  This was also one of her favourites.

Every Saturday on her way back from the market, this was one of the many medicinal plants that she would have purchased for her own personal use. 

It was also her delight to aid anyone who was in need of a little piece of the bush to make bush tea.

The common names are Reed grass and Jamaican Sarsaparilla.  It is known in Spanish as zarzaparrilla, which is derived from the words zarza, meaning "shrub" or "bramble, "and parrilla, meaning "vine.

Health benefits of sarsaparilla herb

The benefits of this medicinal herb are many. They are natural, drug-less and they are herbal therapies to treat every day complaints as well as serious and dangerous diseases.

It is effective for all skin ailments such as eczema, psoriasis, as well as ringworm.

It is also effective for ailments such as arthritis, cancer, rheumatism, gout, colds, fevers, catarrh, flatulence, multiple sclerosis, bronchial conditions and menopause.

In a research done on the root in 1993 at the Pennsylvania State University, the root was found to contain male and female hormones and it is used to treat sterility and impotence in men.

It is said that if you are not getting a good root, you can test it by chewing a piece of the root, if it has an acidic taste, then the root is good.

The tea and its benefits

The aromatic roots may be used to make tea that is flavorful and tasty.  The tea can be used externally as a wash for skin problems, ringworm, and also scrofula. It can also used to wash the eyes.


If you suffer with asthma, kidney ailments, pregnant or breastfeeding, do not use sarsaparilla.

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