Sarsarparilla root under the microscope.

  • Odra Noel
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Sarsarparilla root under the microscope. Odra Noel. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0). Source: Wellcome Collection.

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Sarsarparilla is a popular drug, prepared from the long fibrous roots of several species of the genus Smilax. The introduction of sarsaparilla into European medicine it is believed dates from the middle of the 16th century where is was used in Spain and transported from Peru to England. It was beieved to be a common treatment for syphilis and psoriasis. Its root is also used to flavour the soft drink of the same name and also the main flavouring in root beer. Cellular level art, paint on silk, digitised.


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