The dried root of (1) Smilax medica, Chamisso and Schlechtendal; or (2) Smilax officinalis, Kunth, or an undetermined species; or (3) Smilax ornata, Hooker filius (Nat. Ord. Liliaceae). Tropical America, Mexico to Brazil. Dose, 30 grains.
Common Names: Sarsaparilla; (1) Mexican Sarsaparilla; (2) Honduras Sarsaparilla; (3) Jamaica Sarsaparilla.
Principal Constituents.—The acrid glucoside parillin (smilacin, salseparin, or parillic acid) closely resembling saponin; resin and a volatile oil; and calcium oxalate, etc.
Preparations.—1. Specific Medicine Sarsaparilla. Dose, 1 to 30 drops.
2. Fluidextractum Sarsaparillae Compositum, Compound Fluidextract of Sarsaparilla (contains Sarsaparilla, Licorice, Sassafras, Mezereum). Dose, 10 to 60 minims.
3. Syrupus Sarsaparillae Compositus, Compound Syrup of Sarsaparilla (contains Fluidextracts of Sarsaparilla, Licorice, Senna, Oil of Sassafras, Oil of Anise, and Methyl Salicylate, Alcohol, Sugar, and Water). Dose, 2 to 6 fluidrachms.
Action and Therapy.—Sarsaparilla once held a high reputation as an alterative; it is now considered practically valueless. Almost the only use made of it at present is as a vehicle for iodides and other alteratives. For this purpose the compound syrup is largely preferred. Sarsaparilla is not wholly inert and its long-continued use may cause ulceration of the mucosa of the intestines. Some believe it also to possess an active cardiosedative principle, probably sarsaponin.
The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 1922, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D.