Sarsaparilla (Anantamul) : Benefits, Risks, Dose & Side Effects

 03 Apr 2021  2430

 The herb Sweta sariva or sveta sariva is scientifically known as Hemidesmus Indica and in India commonly known as Indian Sarsaparilla. It is a well-known plant used in Ayurveda for many types of ailments.

It is a herb that is popularly used in many ailments such as to alleviates burning sensations (Dahaprasamana), for appetizing (Deepana ), and for purifying blood (Raktashodaka) properties.

This herb was formerly placed under the family of Asclepiadaceae but based on a recent study of pollinal character it has been transferred to the family Periplocaceae.

How does the sarsaparilla herb look like?

It is a climbing plant that grows in central, western, and southern parts of India. Hemidesmus indicus commonly known as Indian Sarsaparilla is a diffusely twining undershrub having numerous slender wiry laticiferous branches with purplish-brown bark.

  • Stems and branches: they are twine anticlockwise are profusely laticiferous, elongate, narrow, ridged at the nodes.
  • Leaves: simple, petioled, exstipulate, opposite, entire, apiculate acute, dark green above but paler and sometimes pubescent below. Leaves are of the basal parts of the shoots that are linear to lanceolate.
  • Flowers: Greenish-yellow to the greenish-purple outside, dull yellow to the light purplish inside, calyx deeply five-lobed, corolla gamopetalous, about twice the calyx, Stamens five, inserted near base of corolla with a thick coronal scale. Stamens five, inserted near base of corolla with distinct filaments and small connate oblong anthers ending in inflexed appendages. Pistil bicarpellary, ovaries free, many ovulated with distinct styles.
  • Fruit: have two straight slender narrowly cylindrical widely divergent follicles.
  • Seeds: have many, flat, oblong, with a long tuft of white silky hairs

Where are sarsaparilla herb found?

It is a plant that is found throughout India, growing under mesophytic to semi-dry conditions in the plains and up to an altitude of 600 m. It is quite commonly seen in open scrub jungles, hedges, uncultivated soil, etc. It is found in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Iran, Bangladesh, etc.

Vernacular names

  • Arabic: Zaiyana, Ausaba lunnara
  • Bengali: Anantmool
  • English.: Indian Sarsaparilla
  • Hindi: Magrabu, Salsa, Kapooree, Anantamool
  • Konkani:Dudvali
  • Kannada Name- Sogade Beru
  • Marathi.: Anantmool, Upalsari, Dudhasali
  • Oriya.: Onontomulo; Persian: Ushbanindi, Yasmine barri
  • Aushbahe nindi; Punj: Anantmool
  • Sanskrit.: Anantamula, sariva, naga jihva, gopakanya
  • Marathi name- Upalsari, Uparsal
  • Tamil Name- Nannari
  • Telugu name- Sungandhipala, Muttavapylagamu
  • Malayalam Name- Naruninti
  • Gujarati Name- Kapuri, Madhuri, Upalasri

Ayurvedic Pharmacodynamic properties

  • Rasa: Madhur (Sweet), Tikta (Bitter)
  • Guna: Guru (Heavy), Snigdha(Oily)
  • Virya: Shita (Cold)
  • Vipaka: Madhur (Sweet)
  • Doshakarma: Tridoshashamak (Alleviate all the three Dosha- V, P, K)

Chemical Composition

  • Essential oil
  • Coumarin
  • Starch
  • Triterpenoid saponins
  • Tannic acid


In classical Ayurvedic texts two varieties of Sariva or Sarsaparilla, both with similar therapeutic attributes and are considered to be similar in action.

  • Sweta sariva: Is identified as Hemidesmus indicus (L.) R.Br
  • Krishna sariva: Is identified as Cryptolepis buchanani Roem. & Schult

What is Indian sarsaparilla root used for?

Indian Sarsaparilla or so-called anantamul was used by the native healers in India for nephritic complaints, syphilis, and sore mouth in children. In 1831, anantamul was introduced into European medicine.

Today, anantamul is receiving renewed attention as an Ayurvedic medicinal. Indian sarsaparilla, anantamul is part of the milkweed family, which is taxonomically distinct from “true” sarsaparilla.

  • Urinary: It is used in urinary infections with dark red, cloudy, painful urination; cystitis, urethritis, kidney infections, prostatitis.
  • Female disorders: Its root powder is effective in female disorders like Pradara Roga especially in Shweta Pradar (leucorrhea).
  • Skin: It is used in treating Eczema, Erysipelas, Psoriasis, and Urticaria from heat and aggravated Pitta. It cleansAyurvedic Medicine For Fungal Infection On Skin (Candidiasis-Thrush) the blood, stops itching, and reduces separation.
  • Bacterial: It is used in certain bacterial conditions such as Gonorrheal neuralgia, Syphilis, Venereal disease.
  • Nerves: Its alterative and purificatory nature extends to the mind, hence it’s used in disturbed, angry, or irritated emotions from high Pitta. It reduces Vata indirectly by calming the flames of Pitta.
  • Autoimmune disease: It is used in Rheumatism, Rheumatoid arthritis, and also used in nephritic disorders.
  •  Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs): The root powder is used to treat STDs that are damp and hot.
  • Mouth sores: It is also used in mouth sores of children.
  • Hair therapy: Anantmool used in ayurvedic medicine to treat hair problems, skin disease, lesion.
  • Arthritis: Its power can be used as a paste mixed with hot water.
  • Eczema: It clear heat and inflammation from the skin if used in eczema and it cleans the blood and stops itching.

How to use It?

  • Parts Used: Roots
  • Dosage: Indian sarsaparilla – water decoction – 50-100 ml, root Paste 5 g, root powder 1 – 3 g

Sarsaparilla Risks and Side Effects

According to WebMD, despite the lack of evidence, sarsaparilla is known for the benefits discussed. However, it is convenient to know that, in some cases, its consumption carries risks and side effects. In general, most healthy adults have no problems when they take the plant in moderation. Despite this, it is recommended to be careful in case of:

  • Pregnancy: Not enough reliable information so stay safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding, avoid use.
  • Chronic illnesses: always consult the doctor.
  • Drug use: although there are no data on drug interactions, the possibility is not ruled out. Therefore, when suspected, it is better to consult with the professional.
  • Asthma: People’s asthma can cause a runny nose if exposed to sarsaparilla root dust.
  • Kidney disease: The person with kidney disease worse if use sarsaparilla so avoids sarsaparilla if you have kidney problems.
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