Sarsaparilla as Medicinal Herb
Sarsaparilla Side Effects
Indian Sarsaparilla or Anantamul (अनंतमूल)
is a perpetual, winding or creeping herb, with a woody aromatic rhizome. It has a lean, hairless
stem, uneven dark green leaves, greenish flowers in petite thickset bunches and tapered cylindrical fruits. The dried roots
of Sasaparilla used for medicine.The plant has been referred to as a significant medicine in ancient
Indian literature. In 1864 it was included in the British Pharmacopoeia.
It has been used for centuries for the relief of various
diseases. From the 1500s to the present, sarsaparilla has been used as a blood purifier and
general tonic and also has been used worldwide for gout, syphilis, gonorrhea, rheumatism, wounds, venereal disease, arthritis, fever,
cough, scrofula, hypertension, digest ive disorders, psoriasis, skin
diseases, and cancer. Sarsaparilla is becoming more widely available in health food stores,
with a variety of tablets, capsules, and tincture products sold today.
Hindi - Anantamul (अनंतमूल)
English - Sarsaparilla
Latin - Hemidesmus indicus
Sanskrit - Sariba, Anantamulah ( अनन्तमूलः)
Tamil - Nannari (நன்னாரி)
Kannada - Namadaballi (ಅನಮ್ತಮೂಲ) anamtamula
Telgu - Sugandjipala (సుగంధి), Sugandhi
Malayalam- Nannaari (നന്നാറി )
Marathi - Upalsari (उपळसरी)
Salsa ( سالسا )
: Anantamul (અનંતમૂળ)
Sarsaparilla is a climbing slender plant with twining woody stems, and a
rust-coloured bark. Its leaves are opposite, petiolate, entire, smooth, shiny and firm, varying in shape and size according to their age.
Sarsaparilla flowers are small green outside, deep purple inside, in axillary, sessile racemes,
imbricated with flowers, followed with scale-like bracts. Sarsaparilla fruit have two long slender spreading follicles.
Sarsaparilla roots are woody and aromatic. The stem is numerous,
slender, terete, thickened at the nodes.
The stems and branches of Sarsaparilla
are profusely laticiferous, elongate, narrow, terete and wiry of a deep purple or
purplish brown colour with the surface slightly ridged at the nodes.
Leaves of Sarsaparilla
are simple, petioled, exstipulate, opposite, entire, apiculate
acute or obtuse, dark green above but paler and sometimes pubescent below. Leaves of the basal parts of the shoots are linear to
Flowers of Sarsaparilla
are greenish yellow to greenish purple outside, dull yellow to
light purplish inside, calyx deeply five lobed, corolla gamopetalous,
about twice the calyx, Stamens five, inserted near base of corolla with a thick coronal scale.
Fruit of Sarsaparilla
are two straight slender narrowly cylindrical widely divergent
follicles. Seeds many, flat, oblong, with a long tuft of white silky
The major chemicals include acetyl-parigenin,
astilbin, beta-sitosterol, caffeoyl-shikimic acids, dihydroquercetin, diosgenin, engeletin, essential oils, epsilon-sitosterol, eucryphin,
eurryphin, ferulic acid, glucopyranosides, isoastilbin, isoengetitin, kaempferol, parigenin, parillin, pollinastanol, resveratrol, rhamnose,
saponin, sarasaponin, sarsaparilloside, sarsaponin, sarsasapogenin, shikimic
acid, sitosterol-d-glucoside, smilagenin, smilasaponin, smilax saponins
A-C, smiglaside A-E, smitilbin, stigmasterol, taxifolin, and titogenin.
The major chemicals of the plant used in medicines are steroids
sarsasapogenin, smilagenin, sitosterol, stigmasterol, pollinastanol; and the saponins sarsasaponin, smilasaponin,
sarsaparilloside and sitosterol glucoside.
Sarsaparilla is a wild, flowering herb
can successfully be grown by home gardeners from root cuttings. A single stem on the plant can have three
prongs with five leaflets. The stalk itself is leafless. The plant is not overly picky of the soil that it's grown in and it's quiet tolerant
of drought. However, it will truly thrive when planted in moist, well- draining soil.Sarsaparilla can be cultivated by the root of the herb or
seeds. It prefers well-drained soil in sun or partial shade and needs minimum 54F.
Sarsaparilla is propagate by seed, suckers, or division in spring, or by
semiripe cuttings in summer. Harvest roots and rhizomes are lifted by severing larger roots near the crown, leaving smaller roots to increase.
is found throughout India growing under mesophytic to semi dry conditions in the plains and up to an altitude of 600 m.
It is found in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iran, Bangladesh and Moluccas
Sarsaparilla species generally grow in tropical rainforests and in hot temperate regions.
plant does not respond satisfactorily to vegetative propagation by stem/root cuttings even
after treatment. Occurrence of high rate of intraspecific variability has been reported.
Micro and macro morphological studies of the vegetative and reproductive characters together with phytochemical studies of the accessions from
different agroclimatic zones of India have been reported by George (2006).
Sarsaparilla as Medicinal Herb
The roots, leaves and stem of
Sarsaparilla is mainly used to treat venereal diseases, herpes, arthritis, gout,
epilepsy, insanity, chronic nervous diseases, abdominal distention, intestinal gas, debility, impotence and turbid
urine and piles.
* In body heat and burning sensation -Sarsaparilla roots are
boiled with ghee and taken i spoon with milk every day.
* In wounds - wash wounds with a boiled leaves and roots of Sarsaparilla in water.
* Leprosy and skin problems- the plant root powder used both internally and externally
* Sexual impotence and general tonic- Its root has been used by the indigenous populations of Central and South America since centuries,
to improve sexual impotence, rheumatism, skin ailments, and for physical weakness.
* Blood purifier - European physicians use sarsaparilla root as a tonic and blood purifier
* Fevers healed - The sarsaparilla root powder is used as a drug in the treatment of fevers.
* Inflammation cured - A paste of sarsaparilla root is administered to treat inflammations and rheumatic joints.
Sarsaparilla is a widely applicable in alternative medicine. It
is used to aid proper functioning of the body as a whole and in the correction of such
diffuse systemic problems as skin and rheumatic conditions. It is useful in scaling skin conditions such as psoriasis,
especially where there is much irritation. It is used in treatment for chronic
rheumatism and for rheumatoid arthritis. Sarsaparilla contains
chemicals with properties that aid testosterone activity in the body.
Other Uses of sarsaparilla
Hair Tonic - Sarsaparilla contains a hair-stimulating hormone. A decoction
of the root and leaves is used as a hair wash, boosts hair growth. The roots also contain resins, tannin and glycoside.
It is also used to prepare Sarsaparilla Wine. Usually wine recipes use the ground dried roots.
Sarsaparilla Side Effects
No known toxicity or side effects have been documented for sarsaparilla. However, ingestion of large doses of saponins may cause gastrointestinal irritation.
Avoid in cases of pregnancy, steroid therapy or gastric ulcer.
Retail market price-fresh root-Rs. 45
per kg ; Root powder-Rs. 90 per kg based on the market study in 1999 (Sharma
, 2000). In market the dried root of the plant approximately costs
Rs.120 per kg to Rs.150 per Kg.
Note: Market for medicinal plants is volatile and the economics may vary.
• According to the researchers, leptospirosis is a rare and dreaded disease
that can be transmitted to human beings from rats. Several tests carried
out by Chinese experts and researchers showed that the herb sarsaparilla
holds great potential for curing this disease quickly and efficiently.In the treatment of syphilis too, sarsaparilla was used in combination
with five other herbs, and in almost 90% of the most severe and acute
cases, it was found that the disease showed signs of subsiding soon after sarsaparilla was applied..
1. The Encyclopedia Of Medicinal Plants, Andrew Chevallier,Dorling Kindersley
2. The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India. 1st Edn.,Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Department of Health, Govt. of
India, New Delhi,
3. Quality Standards of Indian Medicinal Plants. Vol. 2.Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi
4 Austin, A. and M. Jegadeesan, :Biochemical studies on the anti ulcerogenic potential of Hemidesmus indicus
5. Gupta, P.N., 1981. Antileprotic action of an extract from Anantamul
6. Malathy, S. and J.S. Pai, 1998. In vitro propagation of Hemidesmus indicus.
7. Nagarajan, S., L.J.M. Rao and K.N. Gurudutt, - Chemical composition of the volatiles of Hemidesmus indicus
Sarsaparilla Root beer
Hemidesmus indicus, a shrub with slender leaves
that grows across much of India, and which is known by names like anantamul or nannari. Dominik Wujastyk's. The Roots of anantamul
in ayurvedic texts being the ingredients used at the start of making a
the Great Good Luck Ghee.
Ayurvedic herb Indian sarsaparilla is known across the country, but as a beverage, known as nannari syrup, it only seems to be popular
in South India.
Root beer was based on two very different plants which shared a similar
herby sweetness — the sassafras tree and the sarsaparilla creeper. Both were used by Native Americans as
medicinal herbs, and were taken up by Europeans who presumably felt that
something so strong tasting must have benefits. They were both used as
medicines in their own right, and to flavour other, more bitter tasting
medicines, which is probably why they became less popular over time.