Indian sarsaparilla is a perennial twining or creeping herb, with a woody fragrant rootstock. Il has a slender hairless stem, variable dark green leaves, greenish flowers in small compact clusters and narrow cylindrical fruits. The dried roots constitute the drug.
In the ancient Indian literature, the plant has been mentioned as an important medicine. In 1864 it was admitted in the British Pharmacopoeia.
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 odour of the drug is due to coumarin. The roots also contain resins, tannin and glycoside.
The roots are a sweet tonic and exercise a soothing effect on the skin and mucous membranes. They are useful in correcting disorders due to malnutrition, purify blood, promote flow of urine and restore normal body functions.
Indian sarsaparilla is beneficial for treating stomach disorders like dyspepsia and loss of appetite. The powder of the roots is given in doses of I to 6 grams with milk in the conditions. The roots ground a paste with water and mixed with, pepper is useful in stomach ache and diarrhoea.
The herb is very useful in syphilis, leucorrhoea and other genito-urinary diseases. A decoction of its roots is to be administered in 60 to 90 ml doses thrice a day. A syrup made from its roots is an effective diuretic.
The drug is beneficial in the treatment of fevers. Its diaphoretic properties, that is, sweat inducing properties, induce copious perspiration, thereby reducing the temperature.
A paste of its roots is applied locally in treating swellings, rheumatic joints and boils.
Methods for Uses and Dosages: 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.
Hair Tonic: The herb contains a hair-growing hormone. A decoction of the root, used as a hair wash promotes hair growth.