The root bark of this native American tree yields a tea with not only a pleasant taste but also a wide reputation as a tonic. It contains a volatile oil once prized as a flavoring for root beer and other beverages. Laboratory tests in the 1960s, however, revealed that the main component of the oil, safrole, is carcinogenic in rats and mice, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has prohibited the internal use of sassafras containing safrole. Until the ban, the herb was widely used for a variety of ailments, including colic, rheumatism and poison ivy. The essential oil of the root bark has recently been found to have mild antiseptic action and is still used to combat external infections.
The only approved applications are external.
Used as liniment for:
Used a compress for:
Over the counter:
Sassafras is available as an essential oil and tincture and as fresh or dried root bark, although internal use is prohibited.
Liniment: 1 oz. each of the tinctures of sassafras, prickly ash, cayenne, myrrh and camphor mixed with 3 oz. water, shaken well and applied to areas afflicted by rheumatism.
On the other hand, Sasafrole is also found in cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg and several other spices, which of course have not been chastised for their content. The root still has wide spread use in certain parts of the country. Mostly for its pleasant taste.
The tea can be purchased in several grocery store chains.