A cup of sassafras root tea has been a traditional spring tonic in the South for hundreds of years. A pot of sassafras simmering on the back burner was a part of the home medicine for the early American colonists, who learned of it's use from the Iroquois and Seneca tribes. Sassafras tea was considered to be a blood purifier and the essential oil was used in liniments. Sassafras was exported from the colonies to Europe where it caused quite a stir.3 Sassafras combined with prickly ash, cayenne and camphor was made into liniments for rheumatism. 1,2
Sassafras is sometimes combined with sarsaparilla in herbal formulas to address prostate problems in men, however this use is based on folklore and has not as yet been supported by modern research.
In the bayous of Louisiana, filÉ powder. is made from dried and ground sassafras leaf. It is used as a seasoning and primarily thickening agent in gumbo, and has a wonderfully pungent and aromatic flavor..3
Preparation Methods & Dosage :Almost always found as a beverage or tea. The essential oil is more difficult to find and use and is often adulterated with camphor.
Not for use in pregnancy. Do not experiment with sassafras if you are not knowledgeable about herbs. Not for long term use.
Animal studies in the 1970's showed that safrole caused permanent damage to liver tissue, leading to it's ban in food products by the FDA. Safrole is a precursor for the clandestine manufacture of the drug MDMA (ecstasy), and as such, its transport is monitored internationally. 1
Related SpeciesSassafras tzumu Chinese Sassafras or Tzumu.
Buy organic bulk herbs, spices, oils and teas
"Kitchen Medicine" Herb profiles and Annies favorite remedies - formatted to read on your Kindle.
Learn how to get a good nights sleep, cure a cold,
lower your blood sugar, lose weight, and supercharge your energy and vitality
- and so much more..
Looking for something you can read offline? Join our mailing list and get a free copy of Methods for Using Herbs. This free handbook includes instructions on how to make basic herbal preparations at home. It covers making herbal teas, herb infused oils and balms, tinctures, and more.
History and Traditions & Folklore
Sassafras is first mentioned in correspondence by Spanish explorers to the New World in 1574, as a miracle cure for ague (malaria like fever and chills), giving rise to the common name "ague tree". North American Indian tribes used sassafras as a tonic after labor, to cure venereal diseases, cases of rheumatism, and to ward off colds and fevers. 4
"A nutritive starchy product named Salep, or Saloop, is prepared from the roots of the common Male Orchis, and its infusion or decoction was taken generally in this country as a beverage before the introduction of tea and coffee. Sassafras chips were sometimes added for giving the drink a flavour."5
** Information on the traditional uses and properties of herbs are provided on this site is for educational use only, and is not intended as medical advice. Every attempt has been made for accuracy, but none is guaranteed. Many traditional uses and properties of herbs have not been validated by the FDA. If you have any serious health concerns, you should always check with your health care practitioner before self-administering herbs. **