Properties of sarsaparilla that you did not know

Due to its medicinal properties, sarsaparilla has been used by indigenous peoples for centuries. This plant, also known as "salparrilla", "cerrajuda" or "sarsaparrilla", is native to South America, the West Indies, Mexico and Honduras.

It should be noted that its root is the part that is used as an adjuvant for various conditions. It is believed that it can treat joint problems such as arthritis, or skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis. For what purposes is it used? What are the possible secundary effects? In this space we detail it.

Properties and active principles of sarsaparilla

It has been determined that the medicinal properties of sarsaparilla come from a large number of active principles that They include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial compounds, among others. Let's see which are the most important.


Saponins are chemical compounds with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial action. In particular, they are noted for their ability to fight fungi, bacteria and other harmful microbes. Also, as an investigation published in Phytochemistry Reviews, they can act as cytotoxic agents and, therefore, fight cancer cells.

On the other hand, a study published in Integrative Medicine Research highlights that They have cardioprotective effects, as they help reduce high cholesterol levels and the risk of hypertension. It even helps to control blood sugar levels.

Thus, added to the diet, these substances provide interesting benefits. Specifically, sarsaparilla contains 2% steroidal saponins (approximately). Some of them are sarsaponin, smilasaponin (smilacin), and sarsaparilloside.


Phytosterols can be found in a variety of fiber-rich vegetables. According to research published in Life Sciences, these can lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and reduce the risk of chronic non-communicable diseases.

In sarsaparilla, the best known plant sterols are the following:

  • Sitosterol.
  • Stigmasterol.
  • The pollinastano.


Flavonoids are a large group of phenolic compounds found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables. There is scientific evidence to suggest that they have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Therefore, it is believed that they help prevent chronic diseases and the immune system. Of these compounds, astilbine is one of the most important in sarsaparilla.

Other properties and active principles of sarsaparilla

This tropical plant is also composed of the following:

  • Other phytosterols or plant sterols. These are known as diosgenin, tigogenin, and asperagenin.
  • Starch. Sarsaparilla root contains about 50% starch, so its intake can provide nutrients such as fiber.
  • Essential oils and fatty acids. Among those that stand out are shikimic acid, ferulic acid, sarsapic acid, kaempferol and quercetin.
  • Trace minerals. The best known are aluminum, chromium, iron, magnesium, selenium, calcium and zinc.

Sarsaparilla contains substances that give it antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

Does sarsaparilla have caffeine?

Despite its similarities to coffee and traditional teas, such as the high antioxidant content, sarsaparilla does not have significant amounts of caffeine. In fact, soft drinks and teas from this plant are sold as free of said stimulant.

Also read: What does science say about caffeine?

Sarsaparilla infusion to cleanse the skin

Folk medicine has linked sarsaparilla to treating skin disorders such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema. However, one of the few effects supported by science is that this plant is capable of improving skin lesions in people with psoriasis.

How to use it?

  • Combine sarsaparilla in equal parts with other plants such as burdock, dandelion and corn whiskers.
  • Then add water. Remember that you should follow a measure of 2 tablespoons (30 g) of this mixture per half a liter of water.
  • Once you have determined this, boil for 2 minutes, let it rest for 10 minutes and strain.

Keep in mind that this infusion is to drink small doses during the day. It can be kept in the fridge if you want to drink it as a refreshment.

Sarsaparilla infusion for the bladder and kidney

In traditional medicine, sarsaparilla has been considered a cleansing remedy, suitable for supporting the functions of the bladder and kidney. However, there is not enough evidence to support these benefits. Therefore, it should be used with caution.

How to use it?

  • Combine sarsaparilla in equal parts with other plants such as nettle, fumaria, horsetail and walnut leaves.
  • Add water, following a measure of 2 tablespoons (30 g) of this mixture per half a liter of water.
  • Finally, boil for 2 minutes, let it rest and strain.
  • Unlike the previous infusion, this should be taken on an empty stomach, two cups per day.

Sarsaparilla infusion is believed to help care for the urinary system. However, it should be used with caution.

Sarsaparilla contraindications

Although the contraindications of sarsaparilla are not known, taking a large amount can cause stomach upset. Likewise, despite the lack of evidence about its interaction with certain medications, this possibility cannot be ruled out, so a specialist should be consulted.

On the other hand, most adults do not have side effects when ingesting this plant in moderation. However, special care is recommended for pregnant and lactating women, as well as patients with chronic diseases. In such cases, it is better to avoid its use.

Discover: Sarsaparilla: benefits, risks and effects

What to remember about the properties of sarsaparilla?

Sarsaparilla has been used for centuries as a cleansing remedy, to treat skin conditions and joint problems. Further, It is composed of a series of active principles that can act as antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial.

However, due to the lack of evidence on its safety and efficacy, it should not be considered a first-line treatment for diseases. As far as possible, it is advisable to consult your doctor before taking it on a regular basis.