General Information on Indian Sarsaparilla:
Herbal Information – Medicinal Uses of Hemidesmus Indicus
English name: Hemidesmus, Indian sarsaparilla, East Indian sarsaparilla
Sanskrit names: Anantamula, Sariva, Naga-jihva, Gopakanya
Habitat of the herbal plant called Hemidesmus Indicus:
This climbing twiner plant is found throughout India, common in Bengal, Bombay Presidency and extending to Travancore and Ceylon.
|Indian sarsaparilla picture|
Parts Used: Root, root-bark and juice
Constituents: Coumarin (the aroma and taste of the drug are due to this constituent), a volatile oil, a crystallizable principle – hemidesmine, and a crystalline stearoptin called smilasperic acid. “Recent researches by Allopaths have proved conclusively that the active principles of Sarsaparilla consist of an enzyme, an essential oil and a saponin. (None of these is said to have any action in syphilis and other conditions for which it is used). – Chopra’s.
Action- Valuable alternative, tonic, demulcent, diaphoretic and diuretic. It also possesses the sudorific and alterative properties of Jamaica sarsaparilla.
Action and uses in Ayurveda or Ayurvedic– sexual debility; later stages of syphilis
Action and Uses in Unani – Hot 2 degrees, Dry 1 degree, syphilis, leprosy, resolvent, liquifying, diaphoretic, diseases of brain, liver, stomach, kidney, uterus, due to cold and moisture, externally in ulcers.
Preparations: Infusion, Docoction, syrup, Liquid extract, powder and paste.
Uses: Fragrant root-barks of this plant known as “Indian Sarsaparilla” are prescribed in dyspepsia, loss of appetite, i.e. nutritional disorders, fever, skin diseases and ulcerations, especially those of syphilitic origin, constitutional syphilis, chronic rheumatism and leucorrhoea. Hot infusion of the root-bark with milk and sugar is a good alterative and tonic, especially for children in chronic cough and diarrhoea. Root powdered and mixed with cow’s milk is given with much benefit in cases of scanty and high coloured urine and in those of gravel and strangury; it is also given in infusion or docoction with or without cumin seeds in two to three ounce doses with milk and sugar added thrice daily. Like Jamaica sarsaparilla it is useful in affections of the mucous membrane generally. India sarsaparilla is considered more useful than the American Sarsa root as an alterative tonic, and blood purifier. “As such it has long been employed in Southern Indian” – Chopra. It is a valuable remedy, according to Kavirajas, for the second and third stages of syphilis and its numerous manifestations, e.g., eruptions, syphilitic rheumatism etc., kidney and urinary disorders of various kinds and constitutional debility. In the form of syrup it trebles or quadruples the quantity of urine, increases the appetite; it is, therefore, useful in dyspepsia and nutritional disorders; dose is ¼ to 1 drachm. Root tied up in plantain leaves, roasted in hot ashes and then beaten into a mass with cumin and sugar and mixed with cow’s ghee, and given twice daily morning and evening is a household remedy in genito-urinary diseases. For ulcers and swellings paste of the root is applied to cleanse and cure. Milky juice is dropped into inflamed eyes; it causes copious lachrymation and afterwards a sense of coolness in the part. For vomiting, nausea etc., root is well boiled in water, strained off and the dregs ground with a little asafoetida and made into a thin paste and then mixed with ghree. This is given in the morning to stop vomiting etc. For internal administration, root is generally used in combination with a number of other medicines. Following are a few examples – (1) Take of Anantamul, root of Pavonia odorata, tubers of Cyperus rotundus, ginger and root of Picrorrhiza kurroa, equal parts, in all two tolas, and reduce them to a paste with water. This dose, administered with warm water in the morning, clears the bowels and relieves fever. (2) A decoction of the roots of colocynth, anantamul, sariva and Hedyotis biflora prepared in the usual way is administered, with the addition of powdered long pepper and bdellium, in chronic skin diseases, syphilis, elephantisis, loss of sensation and hemiplegia.