Smilax officinalis syn. S. ornata, S. regelii, S. medica

Sarsaparilla, a perennially growing vine, forms the basis of the homeopathic remedy sarsaparilla, which is used to treat a number of health conditions, especially those associated with the urinary tract. Sarsaparilla is a large vine that climbs very high onto trees or any other thing it can find in its vicinity to ascend. As this vine possesses large thorns, the Spanish referred to the plant as bramble vine.

The plant produces big rounded leaves that appear as if they have been drawn together by the veins. The rhizome of the herb is exceptionally bulky, rounded and plump and it is used for a number of purposes, especially medicinally. Many long wiry thin roots emerge from the rhizome and each of them may be spreading over an area of two or more meters underneath the ground.

The homeopathic remedy sarsaparilla is highly beneficial for individuals who are suffering from depression and nervous anxiety and usually hold the state of their mind responsible for the pain endured by them. In addition, such individuals also have a tendency to feel cold most of the times.

It has been noted that sarsaparilla possesses a potent affinity to the urinary tract. Hence, this medication is normally recommended for treating cystitis that is distinguished by pain when the passage of urine ends. In such cases, the urine may possibly contain blood or a sandy or gravel-like precipitate.

Some patients suffering from this condition may even experience spontaneous trickling of urine, particularly when they are in a seated position. Such patients have normal urine flow only when they are in a standing position.

The native tribes of South America have been using the herb sarsaparilla since time immemorial for treating a number of health conditions, particularly those related to the urinary tract. In the 17th century, this vine was introduced to Europe, where people used it as a panacea or cure-all. Years afterwards, the plant was also used to add essence to root beer.

The indigenous tribes of Central and South America have been traditionally using the rhizome of sarsaparilla for several centuries for curing a number of health conditions, including skin ailments, rheumatism, impotence as well as a common stimulant for physical debility.

Even the tribal people in Honduras and Peru have been using this plant for long to treat complaints, such as headaches and joint pains as well as to treat common cold. Several shamans (tribal people using magic to cure ailments) as well as herbalists in the Amazon region too use the sarsaparilla rhizome both internally and externally as a cure for leprosy and other skin disorders, such as dermatitis and psoriasis.

In fact, leprosy is quite widespread in region where the ailment is transmitted by armadillos (a type of nocturnal burrowing animals) and indigenous people in the Amazon region are known to have armadillos as a regular item in their diet. In addition, the indigenous tribes of South America also used the sarsaparilla root as a common tonic for promoting their health.

On the other hand, physicians in Europe regarded the sarsaparilla root to be a stimulant, diuretic, blood purifier as well as a medication to induce sweating. Meanwhile, in 1536, a Smilax root (root of the climbing shrub of the Smilacaceae belonging to genus Smilax) from Mexico was also introduced to European medicine and it soon became popular as a therapy for rheumatism and the sexually transmitted disease (STD) syphilis.

Since then, the Smilax roots became very popular and have been extensively used worldwide to treat syphilis and other types of disease transmitted through sexual activities. It was also considered to be an effective blood purifier and, hence, was listed as an official herb in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia for treatment of syphilis between the period 1820 and 1910.

It needs to be mentioned here that right from the 1500s and till this day, people worldwide have been using sarsaparilla for a number of remedial purposes, including a blood cleanser and a common tonic for promoting health.

In addition, the root of this plant has been used to treat sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis and gonorrhea, gout, rheumatism, arthritis, fever, coughs, hypertension (high blood pressure), scrofula (initial stage of tuberculosis of the lymphatic glands, particularly those of the neck), digestive problems, skin ailments, psoriasis and even cancer.

Parts used

The homeopathic remedy sarsaparilla is prepared from the large, fat rhizome of the perennially growing sarsaparilla vine. Following the excavation of the rhizome, it is dehydrated in the sun, chopped into fine pieces and steeped into alcohol. The resultant solution is strained, diluted to desired levels and succussed to obtain the homeopathic medication sarsaparilla.

As with any other homeopathic remedies, sarsaparilla also does not retain any trace of the original substance it is prepared from and is safe for human use, curing a number of health conditions, particularly those associated with the urinary tract.


The vine sarsaparilla has a Spanish origin and has derived its name from two Spanish terms - 'sarza' denoting 'bramble and 'parilla' meaning 'vine'. It is believed that the sarsaparilla plant was taken to Spain from South America some time around 1573 as a medication.

In its early days of therapeutic use, sarsaparilla was basically used as a cure for the sexually transmitted disease (STD) syphilis. In addition, herbalists also used this plant to cure persistent rheumatic pains as well as various skin problems.

The homeopathic remedy sarsaparilla prepared with the large, fat rhizome of the vine called sarsaparilla is primarily used for curing problems of the urinary system and also forms a vital medication for cystitis (inflammation of the urinary bladder) and renal colic (acute pain owing to the passage of a calculus from the kidney through the ureter) developed due to kidney stones.

People suffering from cystitis experience symptoms, such as a regular urge to pass urine and excruciating pain in the bladder while the last few drops of urine are passed. Other symptoms of this condition include constant trickling of urine, especially when the patient is in a sitting position, and incontinence (inability to restrain the passage of urine).

Soon after passing urine, such patients experience an acute, rather intolerable pain. The urine of such patients may contain, blood, white sand, minute gravels or tiny calculi, which may pass out along with the urine very often.

In homeopathy, sarsaparilla is considered to be the appropriate medication for the renal colic on the right side, which is accompanied by an agonizing and unbearable pain from the right kidney and it passes downwards.

In such cases, patients may have very scarce or profuse urination, which is bloody or bright and transparent in appearance, but very exasperating. The urinary bladder is distended and this causes immense pain and tenderness in the entire region.

Homeopathic practitioners also prescribe sarsaparilla to treat eczema accompanied by deep, bloody fissures on the hands, particularly on the sides of the fingers. In homeopathy, it has been found to be a very effective remedy for this condition.

Sarsaparilla is also beneficial for people suffering from rheumatic aches that usually have a tendency to worsen in humid/ moist weather and during night-time. In effect, people who require this homeopathic remedy most are those who tend to feel extremely cold and usually have scratchy, flaky spots that turn out to be brittle, particularly during the spring.

In homeopathy, sarsaparilla is also indicated for the treatment of a number of skin conditions, including boils, herpes and others. It is an appropriate homeopathic remedy for loose, shrunken skin that lies in folds and is flaccid. In some cases the skin also becomes hardened and lacks any sensation. In addition, herpes emerge on various parts of the body.

In fact, ulcers form in different parts of the body when any syphilis patient indulges in abuse of mercury. Apart from curing these conditions, sarsaparilla is also effective in curing skin conditions like eczema accompanied by rash and eruptions like dry itches that are most likely to appear during the spring.

In addition, some women may also experience itchy eruptions on their forehead during their menstrual periods. In such cases, turning to the homeopathic remedy sarsaparilla not only cure the actual skin complaints, but also provide relief from the associated bothersome symptoms.

Women suffering from the gynecological condition dysmenorrhea, which is marked by very agonizing menstruation, may turn to the homeopathic remedy sarsaparilla for cure and relief from the excruciating symptoms.

In homeopathy, sarsaparilla is indicated for use when a woman experiences pain in her abdominal region as well as the lower back, tenderness in the breast, vomiting, nausea, recurrent urge to urinate and diarrhea during her menstruation periods. It has been found to be effective in alleviating all these excruciating and annoying symptoms.

In addition to the above mentioned uses of sarsaparilla, it is also effective in providing quick relief to particular types of headaches. Using this homeopathic medication in such types of headaches, for instance when the headache gives rise to a sensation as if a tight band has constricted the head, and is accompanied by a shooting and throbbing pain, dry, scratchy and a susceptible scalp, nausea, vomiting and a depressing mood, brings great relief.

Turning to sarsaparilla in these conditions helps to provide instant relief from the headache as well as alleviates the associated symptoms.


The perennially growing vine sarsaparilla, whose large, rhizome forms the basis of the homeopathic remedy sarsaparilla, is native to Central America and Costa Rica. In effect, some people know this plant by the name of Jamaican sarsaparilla, which actually denotes that the initial exports of the plant to Europe were done via Jamaica.


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