Sarsaparilla is a tropical plant from the genus Smilax. The climbing, the woody vine grows deep in the canopy of the rainforest. It's native to South America, Jamaica, the Caribbean, Mexico, Honduras, and the West Indies. For centuries, indigenous people around the world used the root of the sarsaparilla plant for treating joint problems like arthritis, and for healing skin problems like psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis.
The root was also thought to cure leprosy due to its "blood-purifying" properties. It was commonly used to treat coughs and colds by the Native American peoples, who made a soothing tea using Sarsaparilla roots to calm sore throats and clear stuffy noses.
Sarsaparilla is most commonly taken in either tea or tincture form.