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Sarsaparilla extract has been popular as a homeopathic herbal medicine for hundreds of years, particularly among the indigenous peoples of North and South America. In recent years, as homeopathy has gained popularity in western markets, sarsaparilla extract undergone a resurgence. The extract itself is taken from the root of the sarsaparilla vine, and combined with various mixers to create a consumable dose.
Among its numerous medicinal uses, sarsaparilla has historically been valued as a treatment for syphilis. It has also served variously as a diuretic, an antibacterial and antiviral agent, and an appetite suppressant, though its efficacy in these cases is largely unproven. Its uses have been as eclectic as a treatment for rheumatism in Honduras and Peru, to a curative for leprosy among some Amazon tribes.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, sarsaparilla was a popular and common ingredient in many quack medicines in the United States and Europe. Many people, around the turn of the 20th century, believed it made an excellent sweat promoter, and a potent blood purifier. In modern usage as an herbal medicine, sarsaparilla extract has been shown to be effective in treating gout, arthritis, colitis, eczema, and psoriasis — and is considered to be a legitimate homeopathic ingredient.
It is believed the usefulness of sarsaparilla extract in calming skin problems, such eczema and psoriasis, derives from its steroidal saponin content. Saponin is a material that some researchers say duplicates certain human hormones that are believed to disable endotoxins, a key component in the bacteria that cause such conditions. Sarsaparilla extract is a popular herbal treatment among athletes, who are generally more prone to skin conditions, like psoriasis. The substance also has mild anti-inflammatory properties that can help ease general discomfort.
Sarsaparilla extract is typically administered orally, as a liquid diluted and mixed with either water or alcohol. When mixed with water, it is generally consumed as a sarsaparilla tea. When taken as an alcohol-based tonic, a normal dosage is two or three teaspoons with each meal. It is also not uncommon to use the extract topically, by soaking a towel in the water-based solution and applying it directly to affected skin. In this way it can be mildly effective in reducing itching and irritation as well. Sarsaparilla extract mixtures commonly include other herbal ingredients, such as licorice and sassafras. Different recipes may also call for the use of mezereon root, guaiacum wood, honey, and other substances of differing rarity.
After struggling with acne for nearly thirty years, I finally decided enough is enough and sought the help of a trained herbalist.
She put me on a very strict cleansing routine that involved the combination of five natural herbs, honeysuckle, red clover, yellow dock, sarsaparilla, and echinacea extract.
These ingredients are based on my skin type and for my particular condition, so this exact combination may not work for everyone. But it did wonders for my skin! My acne cleared up in just two weeks and at nine months later, I haven't had a single pimple since.
My mother used to treat our mosquito bites and cuts and scrapes with the root of the sarsaparilla herb. She would mix the herb with vinegar to make a paste and then apply it to the cut or bite. It smelled awful but it really did take away the pain and the itch.
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