Action Alterative anti

inflammatory, antipruritic, blood purifier, antiseptic. (It was first introduced in 1563 as a drug for syphilis.)

In Western herbal, Sarsaparilla is equated with Smilax aristolochiaefo-lia (American, Mexican, Vera Cruz or Grey Sarsaparilla); S. medica, S. regelii (Jamaican, Honduras or Brown Sarsaparilla); S.febrifuga (Ecuadorian or Guayaquil Sarsaparilla). Hemides-mus indicus is equated with Indian Sarsaparilla.

Key application ► Preparations of sarsaparilla root are used for skin diseases, psoriasis and its sequel, rheumatic complaints, kidney diseases, and as a diaphoretic and diuretic. (The claimed efficacy has not been established clinically.) Included among unapproved herbs by German Commission E.

Smilax aspera Linn.

The roots and rhizomes of sarsaparil-la contain saponins based on aglycones sarsapogenin and smilagenin, the major one being parillin (sarsaponin), with smilasaponin (smilacin) and sar-saparilloside; beta-sitosterol, stigmas-terol and their glucosides. Chief components of saponins (0.5-3%) are sar-saparilloside, along with parillin as a breakdown product. Parillin shows antibiotic activity.

Sarsaparilla root sterols are not anabolic steroids, nor are they converted in vivo to anabolic steroids. Testosterone, till now, has not been detected in any plant including sarsaparilla. Hemidesmus indicus contains none of the saponins or principal constituents found in sarsaparilla. (Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, 2007.)

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