Sarsaparilla, also called Jamaican sarsaparilla, Indian sarsaparilla, sarsa and salsaparilha, is a plant that has been used as a medicinal herb around the globe for hundreds of years. It can provide an array of health benefits, including possible treatment for skin conditions, as well as an internal cleanser. One way of enjoying the benefits of this herb is by drinking sarsaparilla tea. Before using any herbal preparation for a health issue, please consult your health practitioner.
Sarsaparilla tea was a common drink among westerners in the 19th century. Sarsaparilla was listed in the U.S. Pharmacopeia from 1820 to 1910 as a means of treating syphilis. In the 21st century, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not recognize sarsaparilla as anything more than a flavoring for foods and drinks.
Uses and Properties
The sarsaparilla herb contains a combination of compounds, including omega-3 fatty acids, sarsapic acid and starch. Though there are currently no known official sources that list sarsaparilla tea or its root as a medicinal treatment, according to Health-Care-Tips.org, it has beneficial properties, including as an anti-syphilic, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and antiseptic.
While extracts of sarsaparilla are available in pill form, the most common way of enjoying the herb is by drinking sarsaparilla tea. You can make your own sarsaparilla tea by taking 1,000 to 4,000 mg of dried sarsaparilla root, either shredded or chopped. Steep the root in 8 oz. of hot or warm water for about 10 minutes. Filter the beverage before consuming it.
According to Victoria Zak, author of “20,000 Secrets of Tea: The Most Effective Ways to Benefit from Nature's Healing,” sarsaparilla tea is both a natural diuretic and laxative and can act as an internal cleanser to remove toxins from your body; the tea causes the toxins to be excreted through waste. Zak reports that sarsaparilla can also help to remove mucus in the lungs and push out toxins through your pores in sweat.
Vitamins-Minerals-Supplements.org notes that sarsaparilla may be able to help treat skin problems, particularly psoriasis, a condition that can cause scaly or red skin, if you use the tea as a washing agent for your skin.
According to Health-Care-Tips.org, the pulverized root of sarsaparilla can be made into a tea and used as a way to soothe coughs. Other internal uses include asthma and stomachache. Sarsaparilla can be used externally for sores and burns.
Side Effects and Warnings
Some known side effects of sarsaparilla reported by Vitamins-Minerals-Supplements.org, include asthma or shortness of breath, injury of blood cells and even possible harm to the kidneys. Contact your doctor right away if you experience any of these symptoms. Don't use sarsaparilla tea if you're pregnant or breastfeeding or have asthma; check with your doctor before using if you're already taking a diuretic.