8 Surprising Benefits of Sarsaparilla
Some of the most impressive health benefits of sarsaparilla include its ability to prevent certain types of cancer, reduce inflammation, help in weight loss, boost the immune system, alleviate skin conditions, increase libido, and relieve stomach issues.
Although this name often reminds people of a particularly potent drink commonly seen in old Western movies, the word actually describes a particular type of flowering plant that belongs to the Smilax genus. Sarsaparilla, in particular, has the scientific name of Smilax regelii, but the term is also a common name for the many species in North America. These plants are typically woody or thorny and are most commonly found in tropical, warm and temperate regions around the world. You may know this plant by a different name, depending on where you live, including catbriers, carrion flowers, or prickly-ivys.
These plants can grow in a number of forms, including evergreen shrubs, deciduous trees, and hanging vines, and they typically have clusters of red or purple berries. There are over 250 species within the Smilax genus, and dozens of species classified as sarsaparilla, but Smilax regelii is typically used for the beneficial extract. This is why the plant has gained such popularity, as the roots contain a high concentration of nutrients and organic compounds that can be added to soups, stews, herbal supplements, drinks, and desserts. A powdered form of the roots are also widely used in traditional medicine. Now, let’s take a more in-depth look at the many health benefits of sarsaparilla.
Health Benefits of Sarsaparilla
Inflammatory Conditions: If you are suffering from any sort of inflammatory issue, such as gout, arthritis, or even aching muscles and joints, the active ingredients of sarsaparilla can help alleviate those pains. Sarsaparilla contains various compounds, such as saponins, parillin, and other flavonoids that can soothe those flare ups within the body and alleviate pain and discomfort.
Immune System Booster: The natural antibacterial properties of sarsaparilla berries and the compounds in the roots make this herbal supplement a wonderful way to increase the strength of your immune system. The antibacterial properties can also help prevent infections on the skin and generally improve your response time to colds and other common illnesses.
Weight Loss Efforts: Although research is still ongoing to determine the exact chemical pathway for this health benefit, it appears that sarsaparilla is able to suppress appetite, which means that for those trying to lose weight, adding this supplement can curb your cravings and keep you from cheating on your diet.
Cancer Prevention: The presence of antioxidants in the root and extract of sarsaparilla has been very exciting for cancer researchers around the world looking into more natural and herbal remedies. Although research has not been conclusive, the early results show positive associations between the flavonoid and sterol contents of the plant and a reduction in cancerous cells. Antioxidants are able to neutralize free radicals, the cancer-causing byproducts of cellular respiration, and there are plenty of antioxidants in sarsaparilla!
Increase Sex Drive: One of the more traditional uses of sarsaparilla was to increase the libido of men and women in an effort to increase fertility. Some of the organic compounds found in this root extract have been shown to increase blood flow and boost sperm motility, thereby increasing the chances of conception and improving overall sex drive.
Skin Health: The antibacterial properties of sarsaparilla are one reason why the topical application of this extract (in salves and creams) is so popular, but the antioxidant content can also affect the appearance and youth of skin. By eliminating wrinkles and reducing the appearance of age spots, when applied or consumed, sarsaparilla can keep you looking young!
Detoxify the Body: Sarsaparilla has long been used as a diuretic, which means that it stimulates urination in those who consume it. For people who want to purify their body or detoxify in some way, a diuretic can eliminate excess fats, salts, toxins, and water from the body. Furthermore, sarsaparilla has been known to purify the blood, thereby increasing overall health and reducing strain on the liver and kidneys.
A Final Word of Warning: Some of the organic compounds that grant such powerful health benefits can be dangerous or toxic in large doses. For example, consuming high quantities of saponins, which are found in sarsaparilla, can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and indigestion in some people. Also, the powdered form of the herb, or “sarsaparilla dust” can cause allergic reactions that may resemble asthma in some patients. As always, consult a medical professional before making any major changes to your herbal health habits.