Sassafras has a long and rich history of use in herbal medicine as well as a culinary agent. Sassafras is know by several names, cinnamon wood, ague tree, winauk or saloop are just a few. Native to eastern North American and eastern Asia, the Sassafras tree on average can grow as tall as 60 ft. and has a smooth orange brown colored bark graying with age. The most distinctive feature of the Sassafras tree is its wide variety of bright green leaves which turn yellow in the autumn and may appear in several shapes on the same plant, oval, mittenlike and trilobate. The plant can be found as a shrub, tree or bush depending on its growing location. Sassafras prefers dry, sandy loams found along woodland edges. The plants roots are large and woody with rough, spongy feeling bark on it.
The bark, leaves and roots are all very fragrant and were once widely used in perfumes and soaps.The root of the Sassafras tree was once popularly used as a flavoring ingredient in root beer until deemed unsafe for mass production by the FDA in the United States for containing Safrole which studies have shown to be linked to cancer and liver problems if consumed in large quantities over a long period of time. Sassafras root extracts which do not contain Safrole are still considered safe and continue to be used in herbal teas and root beers.
For external uses, the Sassafras root can be boiled to make a tea used as a wash for the treatment of poison oak and poison ivy. The leaves can also be crushed and applied directly to the skin for immediate relief to neutralize the toxins in the affected area. The wash is useful in treating insect bites. Sassafras oil is used to treat head lice by applying it to the scalp three times a day. It is also used by chicken farmers in a powdered form to keep lice down by sprinkling it liberally in their coops. Due to the fact that Sassafras oil and its powdered form is extremely toxic if ingested, caution must be used when keeping the product on hand to ensure there is no danger of human ingestion.
Sassafras is known to have beneficial effects on the liver, kidneys, urinary tract and digestive system. As a tea or tincture it is often used as a diuretic to treat urinary tract problems. Because of it’s antiseptic properties, it is prescribed by herbalists as an infusion for those who suffer from chronic urinary tract infections to help them occur less frequently as well as those suffering from kidney stones. The tea helps to cleanse the urinary and digestive tract of bacteria.
Other uses of sassafras tea include treatment for skin conditions which arise internally such as eczema, acme and psoriasis. It is commonly touted as a useful treatment for the relief of diarrhea as well as for colds and the flu. It helps the patient to remain hydrated, relieves nausea, soothes sore throats, helps to relieve stuffiness in the nasal cavities and works as a mild reliever for chest pain associated with colds.
Traditionally, Sassafras is known as a blood purifier and is used to flush toxins from the body. It is often used in the treatment of gout, arthritis, rheumatic conditions, and liver problems. The herbs warming properties help the body to produce perspiration which relieves fever. This is helpful in relieving the heat trapped in the joints causing the pain and swelling associated with joint problems.
As a circulatory stimulant, Sassafras has commonly been used to relieve problems associated with menstruation. It is believed to stimulate menstrual flow and relieve menstrual cramps. It also is prescribed as a tincture to help relieve postpartum pains. Other less common uses for Sassafras include use as a mouthwash both as an antiseptic and to relieve tooth pain, though it should not be swallowed if used in this way. The bark can be crushed and steeped in water to make a tea useful as an eye wash for eye infections. Folklore touts Sassafras as a cure for gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes and male prostate problems, though there is no scientific foundation for these treatments to date.
When used in cooking, the sassafras leaves, both dried and powdered are used in Creole style cooking to thicken and flavor soups, the ingredient more commonly known as gumbo file powder. The roots, bark and leaves can all be used to make various teas and syrups. Sassafras is commonly used to make sweet treats. It can be used to make candy and even ice cream. The blog firstname.lastname@example.org offers several recipes for teas, candies, and other sweets with easy to follow step by step instructions.