Smilax rotundifolia, Roundleaf Greenbriar, is seen here with some remaining fruit. According to Moerman, the Cherokee used for pain, including rheumatism, for scalds, for "galled places" and boils, stomach troubles, expelling afterbirth, muscular cramps and twitching, and for "bad disease". As soon as I get the chance, I will consult Bank's book on herb uses of the Cherokee- for one thing, what is "bad disease"?
Greenbriar is one of the Appalachian blood-cleansing herbs used along with (the other root beer ingredients) Birch, Sassafras, and others. American species are used similarly to the Chinese Tu Fu Ling (Smilax glabra) that is classified as an herb that "clears heat and poisons". According to Bensky & Gamble, Tu Fu Ling is sweet and bland with a neutral thermal nature. It is used to clear damp heat poison in cases of joint pain, turbid and painful urination, and jaundice; and to clear damp heat from the skin for hot skin lesions such as recurrent ulcers. It is combined with Wild Yam (Bie Xie) for joint pain and turbid urine; and with Dandelion root (Pu Gong Ying) for the liver and gall bladder.
Ethnobotany of the Cherokee Indians William H. Banks Jr.
USDA Plant Database
Greenbriar is another important, yet little understood herb. I will post more infomation on it later as well as additional pictures later in the season.
Nathaniel Whitmore, herbalist