What is sarsaparilla and what is it used for?

Sarsaparilla is a climbing plant  that can reach 15 meters in length. Its thorny branches cling to and thrive on the branches of trees or thrive in shrubby layers.

The European sarsaparilla is very common in forests, hedges and bushy areas. But much more appreciated in phytotherapy are the American sarsaparillas  ( Smilax ornata ,  Smilax officinalis ,  Smilax medica, Smilax febrifuga and Smilax siphilitica ).

Although the fruits , especially of the European species, have been used in popular medicine as an antidote against poisoning , the truth is that they are toxic due to their high content of saponins. In herbal medicine the root is used, powdered or crushed , which is usually collected in spring or autumn.

These are its main applications:

  • Sarsaparilla is an excellent blood cleanser , indicated to increase urine output and promote the elimination of excess uric acid . Relieves  the  rheumatic pains and gout .
  • It is recommended  to  combat  the different  impurities of the skin , such as  acne , the appearance of  eczema or boils, hives and dermatoses.
  • European sarsaparilla  has been used , although to a lesser extent,  as a febrifuge and expectorant, in the case of influenza and chronic bronchitis.
  • It is also effective as a digestive tonic , to alleviate heavy digestion and other intestinal disorders, with diarrhea or colic.

Medicinal properties of sarsaparilla

In the composition of sarsaparilla we find an essential oil, saponins such as sarsapogenin, choline and mineral salts. In tropical species, its content of sarsapic acid, unsaturated fatty acids such as oleic and palmitic, starch and a glycoside, sarsaponin, also stands out.

Sarsaparilla is considered the best cleansing remedy to alleviate skin problems and kidney problems . A species grows in Europe,  Smilax aspera , which does not have as much purifying capacity as sarsaparillas from tropical America, which are usually prescribed in modern herbal medicine.

Sarsaparilla drinks that benefit your health


Combine sarsaparilla with other cleansing plants, such as burdock, dandelion and corn whiskers , in equal parts. Two level tablespoons of the mixture per half a liter of water.

It can be done with European sarsaparilla, although it is more effective if Mexican sarsaparilla  ( Smilax medica ) is used. In this case it is also usually combined with  guaiac wood  ( Guaiacum officinale ).

How to prepare it : Boil it for 2 minutes, leave it for 10 more minutes and strain it. It is about drinking in small doses throughout the day . It can be kept in the fridge, to be taken as a refreshment.


As a purifying remedy, to facilitate the elimination of toxins and as support in bladder and kidney conditions, sarsaparilla can be mixed with nettle, fumitory, horsetail and walnut leaves , in equal parts. 

How to prepare it : Boil it for 2 minutes, let it infuse for 10 more minutes, strain it and take two cups a day on an empty stomach.