Smilax Sarsaparilla.—The Sarsaparilla plant is a native of the West Indies, Mexico, and South America. It has a mild bitterish and glutinous taste, not disagreeable. The root is used. It consists of one head, from which many fibres, or small roots proceed about the thickness of a goose quill. These are the parts producing Sarsaparilla.

This drug is known to possess tonic, demulcent, and alterative properties; and sometimes diuretic and diaphoretic. It possesses the power of improving the general state of the system, and restoring the vigour of the constitution when broken down by long protracted disease. That these beneficial effects result from the use of Sarsaparilla, Dr. A. Thompson says his experience has fully demonstrated. It is necessary to give it in large doses—from half a pint to a pint, for instance, of the decoction should be taken in the course of the day, and continued for weeks. The decoction has been regarded as a cure for lues venerea. Now, strong decoctions of it, made with 3 ounces of the root to a quart of water, are much used in those disorders.

A small quantity of antimonial wine, (from 30 to 60 drops to the quart,) to these decoctions, which much increases their efficacy. These decoctions are found to be of great use in purifying the blood, and resolving obstructions in scorbutic and scrofulous cases, and in cutaneous eruptions, and many other diseases. "I have known," says Dr. Thornton, "two obstinate swellings that had resisted the effects of other remedies for twelve months, cured by drinking a quart of this decoction daily for sonic weeks.

Dr. Graham says, "It is given with advantage in various obstinate internal chronic diseases, and in swellings, ulcerations, and other local maladies, depending upon constitutional indisposition. I have found it of inestimable value in cases of extreme irritation and debility of the mucus membrane of the digestive organs. In nocturnal pains in the limbs, painful enlargements of the knee and elbow-joints, nodes, and cutaneous ulcerations, arising from a syphilitic taint, it is superior to any other remedy," The Doctor instances two cases in which Sarsaparilla was the means of saving life.

The powder of Sarsaparilla, is an invaluable alterative, more efficacious than the decoction. From one to two drachms may he taken in water, twice or thrice a day. The Liquid extract, which contains a portion of spirit, will keep any length of time; dose from half a drachm to 2 drachms in water. The Com­pound Decoction is made thus :-5 ounces of Sarsaparilla chips in 4 pints of water; let it gently simmer for 2 hours; take out the chips, bruise and replace them in the water; boil down to two pints. While boiling add Sassafras, sliced; Guiacum wood, rasped; and Liquorice-root, bruised, of each 10 drachms ; Mezereon roots 3 drachms , boil for 10 or 15 minutes, then strain. The Concentrated Essence is the most convenient and portable form for its administration, and, from the nicety and caution observed in evaporating, it will rarely disappoint the hopes of the invalid.

Important Disclaimer:   The information contained on this web site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any diseases. Any information presented is not a substitute for professional medical advice and should not take the place of any prescribed medication. Please do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consultation with your physician.

This page and the rest of the encyclopedia of medicinal herbs was reproduced from old herbals written in the 1700 and 1800s. They are of historical interest to show the traditional uses of various herbs based on folk medicine and ancient wisdom. However the traditional uses for these herbs have not been confirmed by medical science and in some cases may actually be dangerous. Do not use the these herbs for any use, medicinal or otherwise, without first consulting a qualified doctor.

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