Sunday, October 2, 2011

Explore the Virtues of Jamaican Sarsaparilla

A popular herbal ingredient in sodas during the days of the "Wild West," Sarsaparilla

Family: Smilacaceae (smilax-greenbrier) – Liliaceae (lily)
Botanical: Smilax aristolochiifolia (also known as Smilax medica)

Other Common Names: Smilax, Gray Sarsaparilla, Mexican Sarsaparilla, Vera Cruz Sarsaparilla, Equadorian Sarsaparilla, Shot Bush, Red-bearded Sarsaparilla, Brown Sarsaparilla, Jamaican Sarsaparilla, Honduran Sarsaparilla, Rabbit Root

History and Uses:
Sarsaparilla is a tropical American perennial plant. Various species are found in Mexico, South America and the Caribbean. It is also found throughout India and in the Himalayas, but Sarsaparilla known as Jamaican Sarsaparilla is considered the best, with Honduran and Mexican close behind. This plant derived its name from being exported to Europe through Jamaica. The word, Sarsaparilla, is derived from the Spanish words, sarza, meaning a "bramble," and parilla, a vine, referring to the thorny stems of the plant. Its roots, which are used in herbology, burrow deeply into the ground, while its vines are avid climbers. When Sarsaparilla was first brought from Mexico to Spain in the 1500s, it was exalted as a treatment for venereal diseases, such as gonorrhea and syphilis. This caused it to be very popular with pirates and cowboys. Cowboys ordering Sarsaparilla usually requested this drink after visiting brothels. However, it was not as effective as the claims touted. In the mid-1800s, the brewed plant became very popular in the United States as a spring tonic. The root was used commercially as a foaming ingredient and flavoring in root beer and other soft drinks. Primary chemical constituents of this herb include saponins (sapogenins, parillin), glycosides, sitosterol, stigmasterin, resin, fat and sugar. Sarsaparilla also contains calcium, copper, iron, iodine, manganese, potassium, silicon, sodium, sulfur,

B-complex and vitamins A, C and D. Sarsaparilla Root is said to be good for gout, rheumatism, colds, fevers and catarrhal problems, as well as for relieving flatulence. Sarsaparilla is said to reduce fevers by helping cool down the body and promoting perspiration. A tea made from it has also been used externally for skin problems, scrofula, ringworm and tetters. The smoke of Sarsaparilla was once recommended for asthma conditions. It is also very useful as a tonic, alterative, diaphoretic and diuretic. Sarsaparilla is said to purify the urogenital tract, dispelling all infection and inflammation. Sarsaparilla's diaphoretic and blood-cleansing action is also useful for rheumatic inflammation. It is thought to stimulate the production of reproductive hormones and is said to have a tonic action on the sexual organs. Sarsaparilla is believed to increase testosterone and progesterone levels in the body, as well as excite the passions, making men more virile and women more sensuous. Externally, it can be used as a wash for genital sores or herpes, or as a hot fomentation for painful, arthritic joints. Additionally, because heavy metallic contaminants form in the blood from the foul and corrupted air breathed in daily by millions of people in large metropolitan areas affected by smog, Sarsaparilla is said to be especially good for removing these heavy metals if taken properly.

Recommended Usage:
Take two (2) capsules, two (2) to three (3) times each day with water at mealtimes.

Pregnant and nursing women should avoid Sarsaparilla. Large amounts of Sarsaparilla (many times the recommended dosage) may cause gastro-intestinal irritation, and if that occurs, dosage should be reduced or stopped. People who take bloodthinning medications (Coumadin, etc.) should not use Sarsaparilla, and other prescription medication should not be taken at the same time as Sarsaparilla, because the medicine may be absorbed or excreted more rapidly. According to the German Commission E monograph, Sarsaparilla may cause stomach irritation and temporary kidney irritation.

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