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Indian Herbs

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Sarsaparilla

Sarsaparilla (pronounced SAS-per-il-luh) (Smilax regelii and other closely related species of Smilax) is a perennial trailing vine with prickly stems native to tropical America and the West Indies. Its name comes from the Spanish words sarza for "shrub" and parilla for "little vine."

History

Throught out history, Sarsaparilla has been used to cure syphilis. Native Americans used Saraparilla for it's medical benefits also. The root of the plant is what is used in medicine. It contains active principle, Parillin (Smilacin),glucoside, sarsapic acid, sarsapogenin (related to progesterone and used in its synthesis), sarsaponin and starch.

The vine has a long prickly stem and shiny leaves, and numerous reddish-brown roots up to 3 meters long. Several species of Smilax are used in agriculture, but the Jamaican S. regelii (syn. S. officinalis) is the species preferred for commercial use. Sarsaparilla is also grown in Mexico, Central America and parts of South America. It is also grown in parts of South India, known in Telugu as Sugandhi-pala, in Kannada as sogade beru and in Tamil as Nannaari. The primary uses of sarsaparilla include the flavoring of beverages, and homeopathic medicine.

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