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erbal Medicine Materia Medica


© David L. Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMH

Smilax officinalis


Habitat: The plants are climbing vines native to tropical America andthe West Indies.

Collection: The roots and rhizome can be unearthed throughout theyear.

Part Used: Root and rhizome.

Constituents: * Saponins, based on the aglycones sarsapogenin andsmilagenin; the major one being parillin (=sarsaponin), with smilasaponin(=smilacin) and sarsaparilloside

* [[beta]]-sitosterol, stigmasterol and their glucosides.

Actions: Alterative, anti-rheumatic, diuretic, diaphoretic.

Indications: Sarsaparilla is a widely applicable alterative. It may beused to aid proper functioning of the body as a whole and in the correction ofsuch diffuse systemic problems as skin and rheumatic conditions. It isparticularly useful in scaling skin conditions such as psoriasis,especially where there is much irritation. As part of a wider treatment forchronic rheumatism it should be considered and is especially useful forrheumatoid arthritis. It has been shown that Sarsaparilla containsconstituents with properties that aid testosterone activity in the body.

Ellingwood recommends it for the following patholgies:scrophula, secondary syphillis, cutaneous disease, rheumatic and goutyconditions.

King's Dispensatory suggests it for these conditions: Syphilis,herpes, rheumatic affections, dropsy, gonorrhoeal rheumatism, syphilitic sorethroats, chronic hepatic disorders.

Combinations: For psoriasis it will combine well with Burdock, YellowDock and Cleavers.

Preparations & Dosage: Decoction: pour l-2 teaspoonfuls of the rootin a cup of water, bring to the boil and simmer l0-l5 minutes. This should bedrunk three times a day.

Tincture: take l-2 ml of the tincture three times a day.

Citations from the Medline database for the genus Smilax

SarsaparillaGiachetti D Taddei I Taddei E Effects of Smilax macrophylla Vers. in normal or hyperuricemic andhyperuricosuric rats.

Pharmacol Res Commun (1988 Dec) 20 Suppl 5:59-62Thurman FMThe treatment of psoriasis with Sarsaparilla compound.

NEJM 227:128-33, 1942Wang WH [Antagonistic effect of Smilax sp. on gossypol toxicity (author'stransl)]

Chung Yao Tung Pao (1982 Jan) 7(1):32-4

About The Author
Whilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary......more
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