Botanical Name: Aralia Nudicaulis. A member of the Araliaceae or Ginseng family
Laxman kand (Botanical name Aralia nudicaulis), also known as wild sarsaparilla, wild liquorice, and rabbit root, is a flowering plant. In the spring the underground stems produce compound leaves that are large and finely toothed. These bloom from May to July and develop into purple-black edible berries. The berries taste a little spicy and sweet.
The leaves die back in the summer leaving the flowers to ripen into purplish black berries. The root is gathered although all parts of the plant can be used. The main root grows vertically down just a few inches but there are secondary runners that grow horizontally. New plants emerge from these underground rhizomes forming interconnected colonies. As it sometimes grows with groups of 3 leaflets, it can be mistaken for poison ivy; the way to tell the difference is that Wild Sarsaparilla lacks a woody base and has fine teeth along the edges of the leaves.
The roots have been used as substitutes for true Sarsaparilla in herbal medicines.
Wild Sarsparilla is well known as an alterative or a blood purifier. Being in the Ginseng family it is nourishing and can provoke our internal capacity to maintain dynamic equilibrium and it has quality that also helps to balance hormones. Because it is particularly helpful in regulating excess androgen levels it is a good choice for acne in teenagers and those with polycystic varian syndrome. It was used by the Haudenosaunee(Iroquois) as “Blood medicine”, for upset stomach, rheumatism and diabetes.
Wild Sarsparilla is highly nourishing with significant amounts of calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, and zinc along with starch, sugars, resins, saponins, pectin and volatile oils. The impressive mineral content makes this plant a good choice to improve bone growth, increase the flexibility of connective tissue and as a treatment for arthritis.
It’s saponins have an effect on arthritis as they provide an anti-inflammatory quality. Wild Sarsparilla has been used for rheumatoid arthritis, not only because it is anti-inflammatory, but also because it also seems to modulate immune function and therefore may down-regulate auto-immune response. It’s blood purifying action contributes by encouraging the removal of stagnant waste products that often build up in the joints and tissues with this condition.
Wild Sarsparilla is considered useful in the treatment of Syphilis,
The rootstock is used as a flavouring, it is a substitute for sarsaparilla and is also used for making ‘root beer’. It is also used as an emergency food (usually mixed with oil), having a sweet spicy taste and a pleasant aromatic smell. A nutritious food, it was used by the Indians during wars or when they were hunting since it is very sustaining.
Young shoots – cooked as a potherb. A refreshing, pleasantly flavoured herbal tea is made from the root. The roots are boiled in water until the water is reddish-brown.
A jelly is made from the fruit. The fruit is also used to make wine.
The root is collected in late summer and the autumn and dried for later use. A drink made from the pulverised roots is used as a cough treatment. A poultice made from the roots and/or the fruit is applied to sores, burns, itchy skin, ulcers, swellings etc.
A homeopathic remedy made from the roots is important in the treatment of cystitis.