6 Surprising Benefits of Sarsaparilla

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

The most impressive health benefits of sarsaparilla may include the ability to reduce inflammation, help in weight loss, boost the immune system, alleviate skin conditions, increase libido, and relieve stomach issues.

What is Sarsaparilla?

Sarsaparilla 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 catbrier, carrion flowers, or prickly-ivy. These plants can grow in many forms, including evergreen shrubs, deciduous trees, and hanging vines, and they typically have clusters of red or purple berries.

Sarsaparilla has the scientific name of Smilax regelii and is also a common name for many species of the Smilax genus. Although this name often reminds people of a particularly potent drink, commonly seen in old movies, the word describes a particular type of flowering plant that belongs to the Smilax genus. [1]

Sarsaparilla is typically used for its 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 is also widely used in traditional medicine. Now, let’s take a more in-depth look at the many health benefits of this herb. [2]

What Does Sarsaparilla Taste Like?

The taste of the sarsaparilla resembles the flavors of wintergreen, vanilla, and licorice. Sarsaparilla is generally related to root beer and this may help you get an idea about how it may taste like.

Health Benefits of Sarsaparilla

Health benefits of sarsaparilla include:

May Help Treat Arthritis Pains

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. It may contain various compounds, such as saponins, parillin, and other flavonoids that can soothe those flare-ups within the body and alleviate pain and discomfort. [3]

May Increase Sex Drive

One of the more traditional uses of sarsaparilla was to increase the libido of men and women 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. [4]

Close up of sarsaparilla red berries and plant in a forest background

Sarsaparilla berries Photo Credit: Shutterstock

May Boost Immune System

The natural antibacterial properties of sarsaparilla berries and the compounds in the roots may 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 cold and other common illnesses. [5]

May Aid in Weight Loss

Although research is still ongoing to determine the exact chemical pathway for this health benefit, it appears that the sarsaparilla can suppress appetite. This means that for those trying to lose weight, adding this supplement can curb your cravings and keep you from cheating on your diet. [6]

May Aid in Skin Care

The antibacterial properties of sarsaparilla are one reason why the topical application of this extract (in salves and creams) is so popular. The antioxidant content can also improve the appearance and health of the skin. By eliminating wrinkles and reducing the appearance of age spots, when applied or consumed, can keep you looking young! [7]

May Detoxify the Body

Sarsaparilla has long been used as a diuretic, which means that it can stimulate 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, it has been known to purify the blood, thereby increasing overall health and reducing strain on the liver and kidneys. [8]

Side Effects of Sarsaparilla

Even though the intake of sarsaparilla gives many benefits, excess intake may lead to side effects such as stomach issues and allergies:

  • Stomach Ailments: Consuming high quantities of saponins, which are found in sarsaparilla, can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and indigestion in some people.
  • Allergic Reactions: The powdered form of the herb, or “sarsaparilla dust” can cause allergic reactions that may resemble symptoms of asthma in some patients.

Avoid intake during pregnancy and consult a medical professional before making any major changes to your herbal health habits.

Where to Buy Sarsaparilla?

If you are looking to buy sarsaparilla, it is easily available in health food stores in the local market as well as you can buy them online. It is usually available in the following forms so you can choose as per your liking and requirement.

  • Sarasparilla tea
  • Sarasparilla capsules
  • Sarasparilla root powder
  • Sarasparilla extracts
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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