Sarsaparilla (Smilax Officinalis; other Smilax species) is native to tropical and subtropical regions of America, eastern Asia, and India. Sarsaparilla takes its name from the Spanish words for "bramble" ("sarza") and "vine" ("parilla"). 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. It contains saponins and other varied constituents, including querceting and phytosterols (beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, pollinastanol. The saponins, including sarsasapagenin and smilagenin may have diuretic, expectorant, and laxative effects. Sarsaparilla does contain steroid compounds, but they're not anabolic and don't mimic the real thing. The claims that Sarsaparilla contains testosterone are also false. Sarsaparilla has traditionally been used for urinary tract infections, psoriasis, and rheumatism. Although the effects are not yet proven, they have also been used for anabolic performance enhancement of the body and body-building in athletes.
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Cautions Excessive amounts of sarsaparilla may cause gastrointestinal irritation.