Mexican Sarsaparilla, or sarsaparilla, takes its name from the Spanish words for 'bramble' (sarza) and 'vine' (parilla). It is native to the tropical and subtropical areas of America, eastern Asia, and India. A climbing shrub, it puts forth roots that often reach several yards in length. It's the dried roots and tubers that have been put to medicinal use. Sarsaparilla contains saponins (sarsasapogenin and smilagenin), and other varied constituents including quercetin and phytosterols (beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol and pollinastanol).
Mexican Sarsaparilla (Smilax aristolochiifolia) may improve appetite and digestion. There have been some claims of sarsaparilla containing anabolic steroids and testosterone however, these are untrue. Sarsaparilla has been used to help urniary tract infections, psoriasis, and rheumatism. Preliminary research has also suggested anti-inflammatory, diuretic, and hepatoprotective activities.
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Cautions Orally, sarsaparilla may cause gastrointestinal irritation or temporary kidney impairment when used in excessive amounts.