Dear Stephen,
I came across this information about sarsaparilla: “Sarsaparilla contains chemicals called saponins, which are poisonous to insects and other small creatures. It is believed that saponins are not absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract of humans, therefore it does not appear to be toxic to humans when taken by mouth or used topically. If injected into the blood, however, saponins can dissolve red blood cells, which may result in serious effects that include death.” My question—if one has leaky gut—will sarsaparilla proteins enter the bloodstream and cause havoc? The same website also states this: “Sarsaparilla could interfere with the absorption or elimination of other oral herbal supplements that are taken at the same time. Separate taking sarsaparilla and other supplements by at least 2 hours.” Thanks.

Stephen’s response:
As to treatment of leaky gut you might see Murray and Pizzorno’s Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. Fasting is also particularly good for this. Saponins are the things that make soap suds, and is probably where the word soap came from. Many plants contain saponins, they are ubiquitous in nature and in our foods. Sarsaparilla is a remarkably benign herb and I do list the contraindications for it in the book. With leaky gut anything might upset things but this herb would not be high on my list to worry about.
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