This section is from the book "Botanic Drugs Their Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics", by Thomas S. Blair. Also available from Amazon: Botanic Drugs, Their Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
Smilax species, almost universally official, the Mexican, Honduras, Jamaica, and Para sarsa-parilla also being separately recognized in some standards. Sarsaparilla contains three glucosides belonging to the saponin group, none being of medicinal importance. Sarsaparilla is not of any demonstrated therapeutic value. It is used as a flavor, though it is contended that a fresh decoction is alterative. The syrup and compound syrup are good vehicles for drugs such as the iodides, bromides, and soluble salts of mercury.