Sarsaparilla, IndianBotanical Name: Hemidesmus Indica
Family: N.O. Asclepiadaceae
Synonyms: Hemidesmus. Periploca Indica. Nunnari Asclepias. Pseudosarsa.
Part Used: Dried root.
Habitat: All parts of India, the Moluccas, and Ceylon.
Description: A climbing slender plant with twining woody stems, and a rust-coloured bark, leaves opposite, petiolate, entire, smooth, shiny and firm, varying in shape and size according to their age. Flowers small green outside, deep purple inside, in axillary, sessile racemes, imbricated with flowers, followed with scale-like bracts. Fruit two long slender spreading follicles.
This plant has long been used in India as an antisyphilitic in place of Sarsaparilla, but was not introduced into England till 1831. The root is long, tortuous, rigid, cylindrical, little branched, consisting of aligneous centre, a brownish corky bark, furrowed and with annular cracks, odour aromatic, probably due to Coumarin and not unlike Sassafras or new-mown hay, with a bitter, sweetish, feeble aromatic taste. One side of the root is sometimes separated from the cork and raised above the cortex and transversely fissured, showing numerous laticiferous cells in the cortex.
Constituents: Unknown. No satisfactory investigation has yet been made of the chemical properties. But a volatile oil has been found in it and a peculiar crystallizable principle, called by some Hemidesmine; others suggest that the substance is only a stearoptene. It also contains some starch, saponin, and in the suberous layer tannic acid.
Medicinal Action and Uses: Alterative, tonic and diuretic. Useful for rheumatism, scrofula, skin diseases and thrush; it is used as an infusion, but not as a decoction as boiling dissipates its active volatile principle. Two OZ. of the root are infused in 1 pint of boiling water and left standing for 1 hour then strained off and drunk in 24 hours.
It has been successfully used in the cure of venereal disease, proving efficacious where American Sarsaparilla has failed. Native doctors utilize it in nephritic complaints and for sore mouths of children.
Syrup, B.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Particularly indicated for inveterate syphilis, pseudo-syphilis, mescurio-syphilis and struma in all its forms. Also valuable in gonorrhoeal neuralgia and other depraved conditions of the system as well as for other diseases treated by other varieties.
Powder, 30 grains three times daily. Infusion or syrup, 4 fluid ounces.
An Alterative Mixture: