Related entries: Indian sarsaparilla
Sarsaparilla is the dried root of Smilax ornata, Hook. f. (N.O. Smilaceae), a climbing plant growing in Costa Rica. The plant produces a stout, knotty rhizome from which climbing, woody stems and long, slender, cylindrical roots proceed. The roots are collected, dried, and made into bundles; these are bound into bales, and exported. Sarsaparilla, U.S.P., is the dried root of Smilax medica, Schl. and Cham., S. ornata, Hook. f., S. papyracea, Duh., or the dried root known as Honduras sarsaparilla, and probably obtained from S. officinalis. The sarsaparilla official in the B.P. is known commercially as "Jamaica" sarsaparilla. It is imported in bundles about 45 centimetres long and 10 to 12 centimetres wide, consisting of the folded roots loosely bound by a long root of the same plant. The roots are long, flexible, tough, and longitudinally furrowed, of a greyish-brown or reddish-brown colour, and bear a number of fibrous rootlets. The transverse section, which is about 5 millimetres wide, exhibits a reddish-brown cortex and yellowish wood. The cells of the endodermis appear under the microscope to be nearly square and uniformly thickened, a character which is useful in distinguishing Jamaica from other varieties of sarsaparilla. The drug has no odour, and only a slightly bitter taste. On incineration, it yields about 7 per cent. of ash. The following varieties of sarsaparilla also appear in commerce:—(1) Lima (also called Lima Jamaica), imported from Panama. It closely resembles the official, but the bundles are longer and the bales larger; the cells of the endodermis are oblong and strongly thickened on the outer and tangential walls; (2) Honduras: the bundles are long and narrow, tightly whipped round with a root, and packed in serons with cow-hide ends. This variety is more starchy than the Jamaica, and generally preferred on the Continent. (3) Guayaquil: the bundles are flattened, the root stout, not much furrowed, and of a mahogany brown colour. The drug generally contains the rhizome. (4) Vera Cruz or Mexican, obtained from Smilax medica, Schl. and Cham.; this variety is not made into bundles; the drug consists of the rhizome to which the roots are attached. It is easily recognised by the dull greyish-brown colour, the form of packing, and the unequal thickening of the endodermal cells. (5) Native Jamaica, obtained from S. officinalis, H. B. and K., on the Island of Jamaica. The drug is sent loose in large bales, and is distinguished by its colour, which is usually distinctly reddish and pale.
Constituents.—The chief constituents of sarsaparilla are three glucosides belonging to the sapotoxin group, viz., parillin, smilasaponin, and sarsasaponin. Both parillin and smilasaponin have also been called smilacin, a name which should therefore be avoided. Parillin and sarsasaponin are crystalline, but smilasaponin is amorphous. The drug contains in addition varying quantities of starch. It yields from 10 to 20 per cent. of extract.
Action and Uses.—Sarsaparilla is used in the treatment of chronic rheumatism, skin diseases, and in syphilis. It is extremely doubtful whether it exerts any action in these conditions, and its chief use is as a vehicle for the administration of mercury and potassium iodide. It is administered principally as Decoctum Sarsae Compositum, Extractum Sarsae Liquidum or Liquor Sarsae Compositus Concentratus. Preparations of sarsaparilla are incompatible with alkalies.
- Decoctum Sarsae, B.P. 1885.—DECOCTION OF SARSAPARILLA.
- Sarsaparilla, cut transversely and bruised, 12.5; distilled water, boiling, sufficient to produce 100. Add the drug to 120 of the water, allow to digest for one hour, boil for ten minutes, cool, strain, and make up to the required volume, if necessary, by passing distilled water through the strainer Dose.—60 to 300 mils (2 to 10 fluid ounces).
- Decoctum Sarsae Compositum, B.P. 1885.—COMPOUND DECOCTION OF SARSAPARILLA.
- Sarsaparilla, cut transversely and bruised, 12 sassafras root, in shavings, 1.25; guaiacum wood, in shavings, 1 25; dried liquorice root, bruised, 1.25; mezereon bark, cut small, 0.625; distilled water, boiling, sufficient to produce 100. Add the drugs to 120 of the water, and allow to digest for one hour; then boil for ten minutes, cool, strain, and make up to the required volume, if necessary, by passing distilled water through the strainer. Compound decoction of sarsaparilla is chiefly useful as a vehicle for potassium iodide in syphilis, etc, Dose.—60 to 300 mils (2 to 10 fluid ounces). Note.—Zittmann's decoctions, for which formulae are given in the Ph. G. V., are prepared by digesting sarsaparilla with calomel, cinnabar, and various aromatics.
- Extractum Sarsae Liquidum, B.P.—LIQUID EXTRACT OF SARSAPARILLA.
- Sarsaparilla, in No. 40 powder, 100; glycerin, 10; alcohol (20 per cent.), sufficient to produce 100. Exhaust the drug by repercolation, first moistening one-third of the powder with 20 of the alcohol, packing in a percolator, setting aside far twenty-four hours, then percolating with more of the alcohol, and reserving the first 20 of percolate. Moisten half of the remaining powder with this reserved percolate, and percolate as before, continuing the process with the weaker percolate from the first operation, and again reserving the first 20 of percolate. Repeat the operation with the remainder of the drug, moistening it with the reserved percolate, and continuing the percolation with the weaker percolate passed through the first and second portions, until the product measures 90. Add the glycerin and sufficient of the alcohol, if necessary, to make the product measure 100. Liquid extract of sarsaparilla is used in mixtures, often with mercuric chloride and the alkali iodides, as an alterative in syphilis. Dose.—8 to 15 mils (2 to 4 fluid drachms).
- Fluidextractum Sarsaparillae, U.S.P.—FLUIDEXTRACT OF SARSAPARILLA.
- Sarsaparilla, in No. 30 powder, 100; alcohol (32 per cent.), sufficient to produce 100. Average dose.—2 mils (30 minims).
- Fluidextractum Sarsaparillae Compositum, U.S.P.—COMPOUND FLUIDEXTRACT OF SARSAPARILLA.
- Sarsaparilla, in No. 30 powder, 75, liquorice root, in No. 30 powder, 12; sassafras, in No. 30 powder, 10; mezereum, in No. 30 powder, 3; glycerin, 10; alcohol (49 per cent.), sufficient to produce 100. Average dose.—2 mils (30 minims).
- Liquor Sarsae Compositus Concentratus, B.P.—CONCENTRATED COMPOUND SOLUTION OF SARSAPARILLA. Syn.—Decoctum Sarsae Compositum Concentratum; Concentrated Compound Decoction of Sarsaparilla.
- Sarsaparilla, cut transversely, and bruised, 100; sassafras root, in shavings, 10; guaiacum wood, in shavings, 10; dried liquorice root, bruised, 10; mezereon bark, cut small, 5; alcohol, 22.5; distilled water, a sufficient quantity. Add the sarsaparilla to 500 of distilled water, at 71°, and infuse for one hour at that temperature. Repeat the infusion twice with similar quantities of water, exhaust the other solid ingredients by boiling with distilled water, mix the three infusions with the decoction and rapidly reduce the whole by evaporation, until the product measures 80; then add the alcohol, set aside for fourteen days, and filter. The product should measure 100. This solution is approximately eight times the strength of Decoctum Sarsae Compositum. It is used as a vehicle for potassium iodide. Dose.—8 to 30 mils (2 to 8 fluid drachms).
The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.