Health Guide


What is it?

Sarsaparilla is an herbal medicine used to treat rheumatism (chronic joint and muscle pains) and kidney problems. It may also be used to reduce skin itching, increase urine flow, and improve skin conditions, such as leprosy and psoriasis.

Other names for Sarsaparilla include: Smilax aritsolochiifolia, Sarsa, Smilax, Sarsaparilla Root, and Mexican Sarsaparilla.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breastfeeding
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease


Talk with your caregiver about how much Sarsaparilla you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking Sarsaparilla. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.


  • Before taking Sarsaparilla, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Inhaling Sarsaparilla can make asthma worse in asthmatics (3)
  • Avoid using more than recommended amounts (3)

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it.

  • Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest
  • Chest pain
  • Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Nausea, diarrhea (loose stools) (4,5)
  • Increase in how much urine you pass or how often you pass urine (4)


1. Bradley PR (ed.): British Herbal Compendium,vol. 1. British Herbal Medicine Association, Bournemouth, UK; 1992.

2. Newall CA, Anderson LA & Phillipson JD: Herbal Medicines. A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. Pharmaceutical Press, London, UK; 1996.

3. Fetrow CW & Avila JR: Professional's Handbook of Complementary and Alternative Medicines. Springhouse Corporation, Springhouse, PA; 1999:573-575.

4. Blumenthal M, Busse Wr, Goldberg A et al (eds): The Complete German Commission e Monographs, 1st ed. American Botanical Council, Austin TX; 1998.

5. Newall CA, Anderson LA, & Phillipson JD: Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London, England; 1996:233-234.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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