Smilax ornata /S. officinalis
Sarsaparilla is an herb of the New World. Following its discovery its reputation rapidly spread throughout Europe, due to the fact that it was hailed as a miracle cure for Syphilis. Unfortunately the claims were somewhat exaggerated as is often the case with so called miracles and it soon sunk into oblivion. At least in Europe. In the US it continued to be popular as a blood cleansing spring tonic and foaming agent for root beer. It was even 'official' in the US pharmacopoeia between 1820 and 1910. There are many types of Sarsaparilla, which mostly grow as thorny vines from the southern US throughout Mexico and as far south as northern South America. Indigenous people throughout these regions highly value Sarsaparillas for their healing powers. Beware: There is some confusion regarding this plant and another called 'Sasparilla', which belongs to the Ginseng family, but has been used medicinally for similar purposes.
Sarsaparilla is an excellent blood cleansing remedy that can be used as a supportive measure in numerous conditions. Skin conditions, such as psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and even leprosy benefit from its liver and kidney cleansing properties, as do conditions such as rheumatism and arthritis and inflammatory autoimmune diseases.The Mayans and Aztecs used it for infectious illnesses that manifest as eruptive rashes and venereal diseases, such as gonorrhoea and syphillis. Sarsaparilla is also indicated for bronchial conditions, asthma and allergies. Indigenous healers even use it for the common cold. It is said to protect the liver and stimulate the kidneys, bind and excrete endotoxins and uric acid. In animal experiments it has been shown to protect and even reverse neurological degenerative effects of ageing, which may indicate a possible use in conditions such as dementia and Alzheimers. Much has been claimed regarding its supposed testosterone content. The truth is that Sarsaparilla does not contain testosterone, but certain saponins and plant steroids, which has earned it its reputation as an energy enhancer and aphrodisiac. It has a general cleansing, tonic and alterative effect that has a very broad scope of application.
Sarsaparilla can be used as a magical cleansing tonic and stimulant.