All About Sassafras Essential Oil

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Origin

Sassafras essential oil has been known to help boost a person’s immune system. The oil comes from a sturdy tree that grows in certain parts of the United States. Oil from the tree has been used not just in medicines but also candies and at times, perfume.

The Sassafras tree is native to the eastern section of North America. It grows in Ontario, Maine, Florida, and Texas. In the northern part of the country, the Sassafras tree is a shrub with a maximum height of 8 feet, but in the southern areas it can grow as high as 100 feet. It usually grows in rich woods, forest, roadsides, thickets, and fence rows. The root sprouts vigorously develop and invade the area around the tree. The Sassafras has simple and alternate leaves with smooth margins and varied shapes. Some trees have three lobe leaves while others have a solitary lobe or none. The leaves usually turn from yellow to bright red during changes in season. The fruit of the Sassafras tree is of a black blue berry type with a pea-sized stalk. All of the tree parts are aromatic.

In the past the tree was used by the Native Americans for their foods and medicinal requirements even before the Europeans reached the continent. It was also one of the first to be exported during the onset of the New World. In the southern parts of the US where it is grown, the roots were boiled and mixed with molasses. The fermentation resulted into the brew now known as the root beer. The young leaves of the Sassafras tree is also used for salads.

Uses

Made from the root bark, the Sassafras tea has refreshing and tonic properties. The root bark and pith are used as an alternative medicine for its stimulant, diuretic, antiseptic and diaphoretic properties. It is also used for treatment of various health problems like cold, gastrointestinal problems, liver and kidney problems, rheumatism, skin infections and for purifying the blood. The Sassafras oil is used externally for treatment of skin ailments and wounds. Its strong smell makes it ideal for dental care, particularly as a mouthwash for the removal of infection. It is also applied on the head for treatment of lice. Due to its strong aroma, the Sassafras oil is also used to add fragrance for potpourri.

Risks

In the 1960s, studies proved that the Sassafras tree contains safrole, a carcinogenic substance. This resulted to the banning of the use of safrole as a food additive and flavoring. Studies have also indicated that a cup of Sassafras tea contains about 200 milligrams of the carcinogenic agent, and in 1976 the US FDA banned the use of the Sassafras tree. However many alternative medicine advocates still insist on the medicinal qualities of the plant, which is the main reason why many businesses still continue on selling Sassafras essential oil products in the market.

Disclaimer

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References

Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations: Sassafras Essential Oil - https://www.fao.org/docrep/v5350e/v5350e05.htm

Sassafras - https://essential-oil.com/botanicals_sassafras_119.html

Sassafras Essential Oil Information - https://www.essentialoils.co.za/essential-oils/sassafras.htm