What is Sarsaparilla Root?

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Sarsaparilla is often thought of in connection with flavorful carbonated beverages bearing some resemblance to root beer. Actually, use of sarsaparilla root, derived from a vine-bound plant that grows in South America and elsewhere, was once and may still be principally medicinal. The potential medical benefits of the plant continue to be explored, although there is not a large number of clinical studies to support claims of its efficacy or safety in all populations.

When looking for sarsaparilla root, people may find it in a variety of locations. It could be sold in health food stores, natural foods grocery stores, retail locations devoted to supplements and herbal products, or online in many places. The root may come in tinctures, powders, or pills, and sometimes in other ways. It might be sold alone or mixed with other herbs/substances. Small amounts of it can be present in various supplements, and obviously, a few drinks have sarsaparilla too.

One of the things which the root is said to be good for is in treating hormonal conditions in women and men that cause loss of libido. In other words the herb is thought to have aphrodisiac properties. Again, such claims must be taken with a grain of salt since they have not been fully tested. On the other hand, for most people, it’s perfectly safe to share a couple of bottles of a carbonated sarsaparilla drink with the hope that this will liven up sexual experiences.

There are other claims regarding sarsaparilla root. It may have the ability to calm inflammation, and therefore might be useful in treating conditions that result in it. Arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and any autoimmune condition, such as psoriasis might be improved with regular use of the root. Another possible action of the root is as a fever reducer or anti-pyretic. It’s also indicated as potentially reducing hair loss, perhaps due to its effects on hormones.

As with any drug of any type, sarsaparilla root should be considered from the point of potential side effects. The fact that the root works on hormones suggests a few people need to avoid it. Those who have prostate enlargement might have their condition worsen with regular use. It’s unclear how its use would affect pregnant or nursing women or developing children. Anti-inflammatory properties may mean the drug is unsuitable for people who take any form of blood thinner.

Significant damage isn’t likely to result from drinking a beverage with sarsaparilla in it, since it is present in very low amounts. More care needs to be taken if sarsaparilla root is being routinely used. Moreover, people need to follow instructions and not exceed dosing. Higher doses correspond to stomach upset and the body may have adverse reactions or allergies to any dose. People should get medical help right away if symptoms of anaphylaxis occur after consumption. These include hives, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the face, lips, mouth and tongue.

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