Home Herbal Monograph Indian Sarsaparilla

Hindu materia medica called this plant and Ichnocarpus fructescens under the name 'Sarivadvaya'. They are often used together and considered as similar. Many synonyms are mentioned in the literature. Under the name 'Nanari' it is much used in south India. It is considered as a substitute of 'Sarsaparilla'. Various kinds of 'ushbah' were mentioned Mohammedans physicians. It also founds in other systems of medicine.


It is occurring over the greater part of India, from the upper Gangetic plain eastwards to Assam and throughout central, western and southern India.


It is a slender, laticiferous, twining, sometimes prostrate or semi-erect shrub. Roots are woody and aromatic. The stem is numerous, slender, terete, thickened at the nodes. The leaves are opposite, short-petioled, very variable, elliptic-oblong to linear-lanceolate. The flowers are greenish outside, purplish inside, crowded in sub-sessile axillary cymes.


Roots contain -sitosterol, 2-hydroxy-4-methoxybenzaldehyde, a - amyrin, - amyrin and its acetate, hexatriacontane, lupeol octacosonoate, lupeol and its acetate.


It has antibacterial and antilithic activity. [Indian Perfumer, 1983, 27: 19; Proc. Indian Sci. Congr., 1981, IV, 156].


No adverse effect was reported on use of the volatile oil as medicine.


The drug has long enjoyed a reputation as tonic, alterative, demulcent, diaphoretic, diuretic and blood purifier. It is employed in nutritional disorders, syphilis, chronic rheumatism, gravel and other urinary diseases and skin affections. It is administered in the form of powder, infusion or decoction as syrup. It is also an ingredient of several medicinal preparations. It is used as a substitute for Sarsaparilla (from Smilax sp.) and employed as a vehicle for potassium iodide and for purposes for which Sarsaparilla is used. A syrup is made from the roots is used as a flavouring agent and in the preparation of a sherbet, which is reported to have cooling properties.