The Herb Stop Blog
5 Amazing Health Benefits of Sarsaparilla Root
Many of us know about sarsaparilla because it was the common name of a delicious soft drink that was popular in the 1800s. However, companies made these soft drinks from the plant sassafras, which tastes similar to birch or root beer. Today, this drink is no longer common in the United States. However, sarsaparilla root is still a popular supplement throughout the United States.
Sarsaparilla is an American perennial plant that thrives in tropical climates. It grows into a vine that starts on the ground and climbs upwards with paired tendrils. The root of the plant has many purported health benefits. Herbalists have traditionally used it as a blood cleanser for skin conditions like psoriasis, where the skin is inflamed and red. Sarsaparilla root has also traditionally been used for arthritis, colitis, inflammation, and gout and supporting healthy reproductive health in men.
Today, we’re sharing the many health benefits of sarsaparilla root and the science behind them.
*As always, we recommend consulting with your doctor before starting a new supplement, particularly if you have a medical condition or take pharmaceutical drugs.
Sarsaparilla has a long history of being used to soothe inflammation. Today’s research also backs this traditional use up!
For example, one study showed that sarsaparilla had a 47% inhibitory effect on inflammation.
Another study testing sarsaparilla's effectiveness against inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis and rheumatic pain found that sarsaparilla possesses analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. During the study, researchers noted that sarsaparilla had significant anti-inflammatory effects when compared to the control group.
Encourages Health Liver & Kidneys
Research on rats with liver damage discovered that flavonoid-rich compounds derived from sarsaparilla reversed damage to the liver, allowing the liver to function more optimally! Another study noted that sarsaparilla root was shown to protect against liver injury.
In 2016, researchers studied the astilbin derived from sarsaparilla root and found that it may also improve kidney function in addition to being a potential psoriasis treatment. Free radicals and nitric oxide cause oxidative stress in the body, which can harm the kidneys. Astilbin is an antioxidant that encourages the body to suppress oxidative stress, supporting and protecting your kidneys in the process. This same study also found that sarsaparilla root reduced inflammation in the body, possibly contributing to kidney disease and other conditions.
Disease and Cancer Fighting Properties
Sarsaparilla root has been traditionally used to treat inflammation, which many diseases are linked to. Studies today also show that it may help suppress or slow cancer growth.
One study indicated that sarsaparilla might have an antitumor function which may help the body protect against the onset of cancer cells. Previous studies also showed that sarsaparilla had an inhibitory effect on cancer cell growth.
Another study on patients with breast cancer tumors indicated that sarsaparilla also demonstrated antitumor properties. A 2016 study found that sarsaparilla root extract activated pathways within the body that inhibited cancer cell growth.
While plenty of research still needs to be done, we are excited to see the many studies indicating that sarsaparilla supports the body and its ability to fight disease!
Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that coincides with psoriasis, a chronic nail and skin condition that causes scaly rashes and, often, joint swelling. Traditionally, sarsaparilla root has been used to treat psoriatic arthritis, which scientific studies today are backing up in their findings.
One study of a 73-year-old woman with psoriatic arthritis in her second and third fingers found that traditional Chinese medicine-style acupuncture combined with taking sarsaparilla root, turmeric, and black pepper supplements helped relieve some of her discomfort. Over a six-month period, the patient experienced an improved range of motion and decreased stiffness and edema. Researchers also noted that her overall pain and symptoms decreased.
The study concluded that “acupuncture, turmeric, sarsaparilla root, and vitamin D3 could be viable natural alternatives for the treatment of PsA. [psoriatic arthritis]”
Another study found that individuals with psoriasis noticed an improvement in their skin lesions after taking sarsaparilla root. This study attributed the results to the primary steroid, sarsaponin, in sarsaparilla root, which may bind to the endotoxins that cause skin lesions and help remove them from the body faster.
Since sarsaparilla root is an anti-inflammatory, it may also help skin conditions aggravated or triggered by inflammation, such as eczema, dermatitis, and hives.
May Fight Antimicrobial Activity
Traditionally, sarsaparilla root has been used to treat sexually transmitted diseases caused by bacteria, such as syphilis.
One study researched the activity of over 60 varying phenolic compounds derived and isolated from sarsaparilla root. These compounds were tested against one fungus type and six bacteria types. In total, the study concluded that 18 of the 60 compounds in sarsaparilla root had antimicrobial properties against the bacteria.
Another interesting aspect of sarsaparilla root is that it may help activate the bioavailability of other supplements, increasing how well other herbs absorb into the body. For this reason, it’s a popular herb to include in herbal blends.
We hope today’s article helped you understand just a handful of the purported health benefits of sarsaparilla root! We are excited to see the many impressive discoveries researchers are making about sarsaparilla root today.
Natalie & Leilah