Sarsaparilla root benefit and side effects, supplement information by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
September 10 2016

Sarsaparilla (Smilax) is a vine native to tropical and temperate parts of the world and includes several  hundred species worldwide. It is native to South and Central America, along with many islands in the Caribbean. Sarsaparilla is also found in India and parts of China. Sarsaparilla has been used as an ingredient in root beer and other beverages for its foaming properties. Sarsaparilla root was used as a general tonic by indigenous tribes in South America, where European traders found it and introduced it into their culture in the 1400s.
   It has been difficult and confusing to determine with accuracy the medicinal properties of sarsaparilla since studies have been done with different species of sarsaparilla, including sarsaparilla smilax, sarsaparilla glabra, and sarsaparilla ornata. I don't know whether the chemical compounds within these species are similar or vastly different. Sarsaparilla has some vision enhancement properties.

Sarsaparilla contains sarsasapogenin, sitosterol, stigmasterol, and pollinastanol; many flavonoids; and the saponins sarsasaponin, sarsaparilloside, among others.

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Supplement Facts:
Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)
Citrus bioflavonoids (eriocitrin, hesperidin, flavonols, flavones, flavonoids, naringenin, and quercetin)
Mixed carotenoids (alpha carotene, astaxanthin, beta carotene, cryptoxanthin,
Lutein, Lycopene, Zeaxanthin)
Bilberry extract (Vaccinium myrtillus)
Eyebright extract (Euphrasia officianales)
Jujube extract (Zizyphus jujube)
Ginkgo biloba (Ginkgo biloba), also available separately
Suma extract (Pfaffia paniculata)
Mucuna pruriens extract (Cowhage)
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
Lycium berry extract (Lycium Barbarum), also known as Goji berry supplement.
Sarsaparila (Sarsaparilla Smilax)

Aphrodisiac Properties
Sarsaparillla is occasionally found in some herbal sex products. I have not been able to find studies to confirm its potential as a sex booster.

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Provides results that are sometimes seen the first day, and improvement is noted over several days of use. The effective herbal extracts include ashwagandha, catuaba, cnidium monnieri, coleus forskohlii, damiana, horny goat weed, maca, mucuna pruriens, muira puama, passion flower, pfaffia paniculata, rhodiola, shilajit, tribulus terrestris, tongkat ali.


Sarsaparilla as medicine
Sarsaparilla is often used to treat inflammatory skin conditions. Smilax glabra is a well-known traditional Chinese medicine which has been used clinically to prevent leptospirosis, to treat syphilis, and acute bacterial dysentery. Sarsaparilla root has been used for centuries by the indigenous peoples of Central and South America for sexual impotence, rheumatism, skin ailments, and as a general tonic. Shamans in the Amazon use sarsaparilla root internally and externally for leprosy and other inflammatory skin problems such as psoriasis.

Int J Oncol. 2012. Methanol extract of the ethnopharmaceutical remedy Smilax spinosa exhibits anti-neoplastic activity.

PLoS One. 2015. Sarsaparilla (Smilax Glabra Rhizome) extract inhibits migration and invasion of cancer cells by suppressing TGF-β1 pathway. Our study revealed a new antitumor function of Sarsaparilla in counteracting invasiveness of a subset of cancer cells by inhibiting TGF-β1 signaling.

side effects
Sarsaparilla has not been tested enough to provide us with enough information regarding its side effects.

Sarsaparilla Research studies (please note the different species)
Studies on dihydroflavonol glycosides from rhizome of Smilax glabra
Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2004.
To investigate the chemical constituents from the rhizomes of Smilax glabra - sarsaparilla. 5 dihydro-flavonol glycosides were identified as: astilbin, neoastilbin, isoastilbin, neoisoastilbin, (2R, 3R)-taxifolin-3'-O-beta-D-pyranglucoside.

New mannose-binding lectin isolated from the rhizome of Sarsaparilla Smilax glabra
J Agric Food Chem. 2004.
A new mannose-binding lectin, designated SGM2, was isolated from the rhizome of a Chinese medicinal herb Smilax glabra (also known as sarsaparilla in general) by saline extraction, ammonium sulfate precipitation and fractionation, and affinity chromatography on fetuin- and mannose-agarose. SGM2 exhibited antiviral activities against both herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Study on chemical constituents in rhizome of Smilax perfoliate
Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2003.
To investigate the components of Smilax perfoliate. Nine compounds were isolated and identified as palmitic acid, beta-sitosterol, delta 7-5 alpha-cholesten-3-beta-ol, naringenin, succinic acid, apigenin, resveratrol, daucosterol and juncusyl ester B.

Steroidal saponins from Sarsaparilla (Smilax officinalis).
Phytochemistry. 1996.
Three new steroidal saponins were isolated from the rhizomes of sarsaparilla.

Studies on the chemical constituents of Smilax glabra
Yao Xue Xue Bao. 1998.
Smilax glabra is a well-known traditional Chinese medicine which has been used clinically to prevent leptospirosis, to treat syphilis, and acute bacterial dysentery, etc. Its extracts showed anti-tumor and anti-atherosclerosis activity. A new isoflavone, along with two known compounds taxifolin and astilbin, have been isolated from the roots of Smilax glabra.

Experimental studies on antirheumatic crude drugs used in Saudi traditional medicine.
Drugs Exp Clin Res. 1989.
A large number of herbal drugs are used in the traditional medicine of Saudi Arabia for the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis, gout and other forms of inflammation. In the present study seven of these crude drugs, namely Francoeuria crispa, Hammada elegans, Malus pumila, Ruta chalepensis, Smilax sarsaparilla, Achillea fragrantissima and Alpinia officinarum were tested against carrageenan-induced acute inflammation in rats. The plant materials were extracted with 96% ethanol. The dried extract was dissolved in water for pharmacological testing. The rats were administered an oral dose of 500 mg/kg body weight of each extract 1 h prior to production of inflammation by carrageenan injection. The paw volume was measured after the injection. Four of the seven plants, namely Francoeuria crispa (24%), Malus pumila (23%), Ruta chalepensis (30%) and Smilax sarsaparilla (25%), produced significant inhibition of carrageenan-induced inflammation in rats. These plants also inhibited cotton pellet-induced exudation.

Sarsaparilla has been historically used for psoriasis.

Q. What's the difference between sarsaparilla and root beer?
   A. Historically, several different combinations have been used to make root beer including allspice, birch bark, ginger and ginger root, hops, burdock root, dandelion root, spicewood, wild cherry bark and bitters, wintergreen and wintergreen oil, etc. In modern times, root beer is put together from a mixture of flavorings, sweeteners and carbonation. Root beer still includes such as burdock root, sarsaparilla root, ginger root, wild cherry bark, etc.), oils (anise, wintergreen, etc.), sweeteners (sugar, molasses, corn sugar, fructose, malt extract, etc.) and carbonation.

Can I take sarsaparilla pill with 5-htp?
   Yes, but realize that 5htp can cause sexual inhibition.

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Sarsaparilla (Smilax spp) is a tropical herb from Central America brought to Europe by Spanish Conquistadors for use in herbal medicines. Consider also Passion Rx libido booster, Mind Power Rx brain enhancer.

Supplement Facts
Serving Size: 2 Capsules
Serving Per Container: 50
  Amount Per Serving %Daily Value
Total Carbohydrate <1 g <1%†
Sarsaparilla (root) 850 mg **
†Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
**Daily Value not established.

Supplement Facts
Sarsaparilla (root) - 850 mg per two capsules
Recommendation: Take 1 or 2 sarsaparilla capsules daily.