June 18, 2013

Sassafras root usage, dates back many, many years. Sassafras is technically a Tree, but the very small plants growing on the forest floor, around a cluster of mature Trees, are what is often used for different Beverages such as Root Bear and especially Tea. Sassafras trees are best known for safrole, the substance SassafrasLEAVESin the tree that creates the unique aroma. The highest concentration of safrole is in the root bark. For centuries, sassafras root was dried and used to make tea and refreshing beverages. Sassafras was also used as a tonic, and at one time, sassafras root was second only to tobacco as an export from the Colonies to Europe. Sassafras was the source for root beer and candy flavoring. Native Americans in Virginia pointed out ‘wynauk’ to British settlers, and in 1603, a company was formed in Bristol, England to send two vessels to the New World, principally with the intention of bringing back cargoes of sassafras bark. Thus, sassafras was one of the first, if not the first, forest products to be exported from what is now the mid-Atlantic states.

Right before World War I, scientific research discovered that people who drank sassafras root tea wereSassafrarangemap more resistant to severe sore throat infections and colds than those individuals who did not. Continued medical research was interrupted by the war, and later studies were curtailed by the development of modern antibiotics. But finally, research was resumed and it was found that sassafras has a general antiseptic power, and that it also induces the liver to cleanse toxins from the system.


In 1960, the FDA deemed safrole unsafe for human consumption, and it was regulated as a carcinogenic. Chemical flavorings are the norm for root beer today. There is, however, a strain of sassafras with a different safrole chemical structure which is considered safe. Some of the natural root beers on the market use roots of the modified species.

It is also interesting to note that safrole is a main ingredient in the drug “ecstasy.” For this reason, it is controlled as a List One Chemical under the Chemical Diversion and Trafficking Act. It is illegal to manufacture, buy, or sell safrole unless you are registered with the DEA.


To make Sassafras Tea:
Take two whole clean fresh roots from two, four, to five foot sassafras saplings. (Do not worry about destroying your sassafras stand by this root harvesting, because for every one sapling you pull up, two will grow back in its place.) Bring these two roots to a boil in almost two gallons of water. Let the roots boil for only ten minutes. Then, cover the pot and let it stand for four hours. After the four hour “sit,” the delicious, healthful beverage is ready to drink.

I never recommend eating wild plants to anyone. Some people can have severe reactions to different plants and flowers. This article is for informational purposes only, and I do not suggest that anyone run out, pull some Sassafras roots and make some Tea or Oil. For some…..this can be very dangerous. That is why I have written this article. To inform everyone of the History and knowledge of SASSAFRAS.



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