Source and Composition. The root of Smilax officinalis, and other species of Smilax, (nat. ord. Liliaceae), a vine growing in Honduras, Brazil, etc. It contains a principle, Smilacin, or Parillin, from which is derived another, Parigenin,—also an Essential Oil, Calcium Oxalate, Starch, Resin, etc.
Preparations. The most important are the following, viz.—
- Extractum Sarsaparillae Fluidum,— Dose, ʒss-ʒj.
- Decoctum Sarsaparillae Compositum,—contains also Guaiac, Sassafras, Mezereon and Liquorice. Large doses are necessary, ℥j-iv.
- Syrupus Sarsaparillae Compositus,—contains also Senna, Liquorice, and the oils of Sassafras, Anise and Gaultheria. Dose, ʒj-℥j.
Physiological Action. Negative results have followed the most carefully executed experiments made with this drug and its principles. It probably has no activity, though by some it is considered to be an efficient diaphoretic, also diuretic, tonic and alterative.
Therapeutics. Formerly held in repute as an alterative, it was much used as a "blood-purifier" in domestic practice, and by surgeons in the scrofulous and syphilitic cachexiae. Its value is probably due to its being generally used as a warm decoction in large quantities, the warm water causing increased elimination of waste products, promoting the renal and cutaneous circulation, and thus producing diaphoresis and diuresis. In—
- Chronic Syphilis,—it may be well used as an adjuvant to Mercury in the second stage, or as a vehicle for Potassium Iodide in the tertiary form. The Syrup is the best vehicle to disguise the taste of Iodides.
A Compend of Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Prescription Writing, 1902, by Sam'l O. L. Potter, M.D., M.R.C.P.L.