Sarsaparilla herx

by | Aug 5, 2008 | Columns, Healing Lyme, Herbs, sarsaparilla | 0 comments

Dear Stephen,
I just started sarsaparilla today (i’m incorporating some of your protocol into my herbal Dr. Klinghardt-oriented regimen) and for five or six hours afterward was miserable with one of the worst herxes I’ve experienced thus far. I took one measly sarsaparilla capsule (425 mg), and it was the only thing different about my protocol today, the only thing I can think of that could’ve caused the reaction.

I understand from reading your book and from others’ experiences with this herb that usually it works as a herx reliever, so I was quite bewildered by my body’s response (I’m very sensitive and tend to react strongly to everything, by the way, even in small doses). But then I reread the smilax section in Healing Lyme, in which you mention that sarsaparilla is a potent anti-spirochetal herb that crosses the blood-brain barrier, and that before the advent of antibiotics it was used to treat syphilis.

I’m not sure how an herb can be both a spirochete-killer AND a herx-reliever, but it seems in my case it’s the former. Does this sound crazy to you? I haven’t really heard of anyone having a difficult time with smilax, but after rereading your explanation and researching it further, I don’t think my reaction sounds completely implausible. Just wondering what your thoughts are. (Oh, and my ART practitioner suggested I cut back the dosage to 1/4 of 1 capsule (!!) and slowly work up from there.) Much thanks.

Stephen’s response:
A few people have told me they respond negatively to smilax, though this is the strongest response I have heard of. I think you may be right in your case. I don’t generally think that smilax is all that good as an antispirochetal but it seems that it is a strong one for you. Using a lower dose or cutting back entirely sounds right to me.

This protocol was incredible. After only a few weeks most of my symptoms were gone. After six months all my symptoms were gone… it has given me my life back.

– Amazon review by Joseph

Please note:

Stephen Buhner is no longer living and this Q + A column on Planet Thrive is closed to new questions. It will be kept on our website so readers can access vital information in the archives, communicate with each other in the comments section, and find herbs, books + lyme adjuncts in our directory. If you want to read more of Stephen’s writings, please see his website at:

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