This section is from the book "A Practitioner's Handbook Of Materia Medica And Therapeutics", by Thos. S. Blair. Also available from Amazon: A Practitioner's handbook of Materia Medica and Therapeutics.
Sarsaparilla. The sources of supply of sarsaparilla root are so uncertain and its preparations so variable that, as an alterative, the drug is not usually very dependable. The fluidextract is useful as a flavor, and sometimes useful as a medicine. The best plan is to select a crude drug that when chewed for a while develops the peculiar acrid taste of a good grade of sarsaparilla. Make a decoction of this and administer in ounce or 2 tablespoonful doses, running up to 4 table-spoonfuls. It has long enjoyed a reputation in secondary syphilis. In small doses it is of no value.