Sarsparilla, not just a drink
Once I was asked by a patient about sarsaparilla. He had a feeling that it did something important that he may need it for, but didn’t know what. Not being trained in Western herbalism, I didn’t know what to do other than Google it. Nothing really came up that I could use, so it was a mystery for some time. The main thing on the internet seems to be mostly how it was used historically in the old west for one, for sexually transmitted infections. As I was cleaning and sorting one day I came across, Virgil’s notes from his herbal training at Bastyr Univeristy. There is certainly more than one use.
In the old west it was served by itself medicinally rather than just an ingredient in a drink. During the Civil War it was used as a blood purifier to treat syphilis. Today it’s usually drunk as an ingredient in root beer, Dr. Pepper, and other drinks labeled ‘sarsparilla,’ with only natural and artificial ingredients listed for flavor.. While it’s more common to treat an STI with a doctors prescription these days, sarsparilla has certain important herbal qualities that offer modern people serious benefits.
Scientifically sarsaparilla is binds endo-toxins, meaning has a special ability to cleans the body. It detoxifies the liver, calms and clears inflammation; relieving conditions of psoriasis, eczema, and gout. It’s safe to have sarsaparilla over the long-term, it is an excellent tonic for gradually strengthening and restoring the entire system and organs. It’s resilience to live and grow in swampy regions, gives it abilities to increase the body’s ability to adapt and heal from life’s strains and stressors.
Similax officionalis, or sasparilla, comes from forested subtropical regions of southern North America, norther South America, and Jamaica. Having evolved to live in swamps which requires the ability to filter water to fight of invasive fungi and bacteria. If you’ve never heard the term ‘doctrine of signatures,’ it refers to the plants function or shape, for example in nature to indicate its affect upon the health of a person. Since sarsparilla’s life in the swan depends upon a filtering function, this may mean it has strong abilities within the roots for clearing the important filters of our body, the skin, liver, kidneys, and GI tract. That’s all good news if you really love root beer, so many amazing fermented drink traditions have been lost. Making root beer at home is said to be pretty easy too! Check out this recipe from nourished kitchen, “You’ll need aromatic herbs, a little bit of sugar and a starter culture like ginger bug or kombucha. And within a few days you’ll have a naturally fizzy, bubbly brew.”
For ordering herbs such as sarsaparilla and sassafrass to make your rootbeer check out the company: Mountain Rose Herbs:
Michael Tierra, The Way of Herbs 1998
Jethro Kloss, Back to Eden 1939