Sarsaparilla is a tropical plant from the genus Smilax. The climbing, woody vine grows deep in the canopy of the rainforest. It’s native to South America, Jamaica, the Caribbean, Mexico, Honduras, and the West Indies.
The benefits Sarsaparilla contains a wealth of plant chemicals thought to have a beneficial effect on the human body. Chemicals known as saponins might help reduce joint pain and skin itching, and also kill bacteria. Other chemicals may be helpful in reducing inflammation and protecting the liver from damage. It is important to note that human studies for these claims are either very old or lacking. The studies referenced below used the individual active components in this plant, individual cell studies, or mice studies. While the results are very intriguing, human studies are needed to support the claims. 1. Psoriasis The benefits of sarsaparilla root for treating psoriasis were documented decades ago. One studyTrusted Source found that sarsaparilla dramatically improved skin lesions in people with psoriasis. The researchers hypothesized that one of sarsaparilla’s main steroids, called sarsaponin, is able to bind to endotoxins responsible for the lesions in psoriasis patients and remove them from the body. 2. Arthritis Sarsaparilla is a potent anti-inflammatory. This factor makes it also a useful treatment for inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and other causes of joint pain and the swelling caused by gout. 3. Syphilis Sarsaparilla has shown activity against harmful bacteria and other microorganisms that have invaded the body. Though it may not work as well as modern day antibiotics and antifungals, it has been used for centuries to treat major illnesses like leprosy and syphilis. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a bacterium. Leprosy is another devastating infection caused by bacteria. The antimicrobial activity of sarsaparilla has been documented in recent studies. One paper looked at the activity of over 60 different phenolic compounds isolated from sarsaparilla. Researchers tested these compounds against six types of bacteria and one fungus. The study found 18 compounds that demonstrated antimicrobial effects against the bacteria and one against the fungus. 4. Cancer A recent study showed that sarsaparilla had anticancer properties in cell lines of multiple types of cancers and in mice. Preclinical studies in breast cancer tumors and liver cancer have also shown the anti-tumor properties of sarsaparilla. More research is needed to find out if sarsaparilla can be used in cancer prevention and treatment. 5. Protecting the liver Sarsaparilla has also shown protective effects on the liver. Research conducted in rats with liver damage found that compounds rich in flavonoids from sarsaparilla was able to reverse damage to the liver and help it function at its best. 6. Improving the bioavailability of other supplements Sarsaparilla is used in herbal mixes to act as a “synergist.” In other words, it’s thought that the saponins found in sarsaparilla increase the bioavailability and absorption of other herbs. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/sarsaparilla#takeaway