Indian sarsaparilla is a perennial twining or creeping herb with greenish flowers in small compact clusters and narrow cylindrical fruits. It has a woody fragrant rootstock, slender hairless stem and variable dark green leaves. The dried roots constitute the drug.
On simple distillation with water, the roots yield a steroptency which is supposed to be a volatile acid. It also contains an essential oil. The odor of the drug is due to couumarin. The roots also contain resins, tannin and glycoside.
Botanical Name: Hemidesmus indicus
Indian Name: Magarbu or Anantmul
Below are some of the medicinal properties of Indian sarsaparilla:
- Indian sarsaparilla is useful for treating stomach disorders like dyspepsia and loss of appetite. The powder of the roots is given in doses of 1 to 6 grams with milk in these conditions. The roots ground a paste with water and mixed with pepper is useful in stomach ache and diarrhea.
- Indian sarsaparilla contains a hair growing hormone. A decoction of the root is used as a hair wash to promote hair growth.
- The herb is beneficial in leucorrhea, syphilis and other genitor urinary diseases. A decoction of its roots is to be administered in 60 to 90 ml doses thrice a day. Syrup made from its roots is an effective diuretic.
- A paste of its roots is applied locally in treating swelling, rheumatic joints and boils.
- The drug is effective is the treatment of fevers. Its diaphoretic properties, that is, sweat inducing properties; induce copious perspiration, thereby reducing the temperature.
Powder of roots which are small and black should be used in tea or syrup. About 30 to 60 grams of the root powder may be used. Addition of rose petals lotus petals, milk and honey or palm sugar to the decoction, make it a refreshing summer drink.