Sarsaparilla (Smilax spp.)

sarsaparilla plant

Sarsaparilla Overview:

Sarsaparilla is widespread across the tropics from China and parts of Southeast Asia, through the Carribean and West Indies, into South America and Mexico. In all areas where sarsaparilla grows, it is used for similar conditions. This mainly includes skin conditions, systemic infection, and arthritis.

More recent research on this plant have suggested its efficacy towards cancer therapy, and to aid the absorption of other medicinal species in formulation.

+ Indications

  • Acute bacillary dysentery
  • Athletic performance enhancement
  • Cancer
  • Chronic nephritis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Other venereal and skin diseases
  • Psoriasis
  • Rheumatism
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Syphilis
  • To aid other medicinal absorption in the intestines

+ Contraindications

  • Caution advised with hormonal dysfunctions

Main Herbal Actions:

  • Antinflammatory
  • Antinociceptive
  • Antineoplastic
  • Antioxidant
  • Alterative
  • Antiviral
  • Antifungal
  • Immunomodulator

Main Uses:

Psoriasis, cancer, rheumatism to ammeliorate healing crisis with Candidiasis, Lyme disease, and malaria. Also used to increase the absorption of other herbs in a formula.


Part Used





South America

Southeast Asia


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Constituents of Interest

  • Phenylpropanoid esters
  • Caffeic acid
  • Resveratrol
  • Steroidal saponins

Common Names

  • Tu fu ling
  • Jin gang ten
  • Khao yen
  • Zarzaparilla

Clinical Applications Of Sarsaparilla:

Sarsaparilla of various different species have been shown to provide antinflammatory and antimetabolic effects, making it highly useful for some of the most common chroninc conditions of the century; IBD, IBS, heart disease, diabetes, and precurser symptoms like hypertention and hypercholesterolemia/hypertriglyceridemia can all benefit from sarsaparilla.


Level Of Research:

Still compiling research.

Visit full monograph.


Botanical Info:

Sarsaparilla is a large brambling vine preferring the dark, humid underbrush of a large rainforest.

The smilacaceae family is a monocot family of plants with an estimated 315 species between just 2 genera (Smilax and Heterosmilax).





Recommended Products Containing Sarsaparilla:

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Sarsaparilla Extract

Herb Pharm

Made from Smilax regeli and/or aristolochiifolia

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Mexican Sarsaparilla (Wildcrafted)

Starwest botanicals

Wildcrafted Smilax medica from mexico.

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Sarsaparilla Root Powder


Made from Smilax medica

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Information has been adapted from our monograph page for Sarsaparilla