What Is Sarsaparilla ?

Raw dried Indian sarsaparilla in a clay bowl isolated on white used in many or almost Indian Asian flavored beverages.
Photo by mirsamik, c/o www.123rf.com

Sarsaparilla is a tropical plant from the genus Smilax.

It is a climbing, woody vine growing deep in the canopy of the rainforest. It is native to South America, Jamaica, the Caribbean, Mexico, Honduras, and the West Indies. Many species of Smilax  are all listed as sarsaparilla. These include:

  • S. officinalis
  • S. japicanga
  • S. febrifuga
  • S. regelii
  • S. aristolochiaefolia
  • S. ornata
  • S. glabra

The actives in the roots are extracted using cold extraction with a chelating agent.

Treatment Of Syphilis

Sarsaparilla has activity against a number of pathogenic (harmful) bacteria. It has a long history of use for treating syphilis and leprosy. Syphillis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a bacterium. Leprosy is a now rare infection caused by bacteria which destroy nerve endings.


A number of fraudulent claims have been made for sarsaparilla by supplement makes claiming that it can be converted into anabolic steroids with similar activity to testosterone. There is no evidence to support the claim although a number of supplements contain the extract on the basis of association. 


The leading sexual wellness product for men, manufactured by Prime Labs contains this extract along with other actives such as horny goat weed, tongkat ali, nettle extract, etc.

Supplements containing Sarsaparilla are available in a variety of formats, from caplets to pills and tablets.

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