SASSAFRAS (Sassafras albidum)

Family: Lauraceae

Parts commonly used: Root and root bark.

Properties/energetics: Carminative, alterative, hepatic, diaphoretic, diuretic, antirheumatic, antiseptic, astringent/Warm, dry; sweet, spicy, delicious.

Systems predominantly affected:  Digestive, genitourinary, musculoskeletal, skin.

Uses: This is probably the best-tasting alterative, diuretic, and stimulating liver tonic in our herbal materia medica. With its associate, Sarsaparilla, it’s the flavor that gave root beer its big start in life. And, as well as being delicious, Sassafras helps detoxify the overall system, clearing blood disorders when needed. It is valuable for treating skin and skeletal conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, Poison Oak and Poison Ivy (used internally and externally), gout, and rheumatic pains.

Combinations: Sassafras works best combined with other plants in a formula. Combines with Burdock, Yellow Dock, Dandelion, Red Clover, and Cleavers for an effective blood conditioner to treat chronic blood disorders and related skin and skeletal symptoms.

Affects on specific body types: Cool-natured Seers and Monarchs do much better with Sassafras root than the Warrior, who is innately too heated to use it other than occasionally as a refreshing root beer beverage. This hot circulatory stimulant eliminates cold dampness, which suits the Monarch constitution most ideally. Skin conditions in both teenage Seers and Monarchs are cleared quite effectively employing the alterative, liver-cleansing actions of this plant in combination with other diuretic alteratives. (See combinations above.)

Precautions: Water extracts, when taken in large quantities, stimulate the liver and can bring about a strong cleansing reaction. It is not recommended for long-term high-dosage use. The distilled essential oil of Sassafras is toxic, but safrole, the toxic component in Sassafras, is not soluble in water. The tea made of the whole herb is quite safe.

Preparations/dosage: Infusion: Macerate in cold water overnight. 1/4 to 1/2 cup three times a day. Decoction: Decoct for only ten minutes. 1/4 to 1/2 cup three times a day. Tincture: 5 to 20 drops three times a day. Externally: Antiseptic on the skin.

By James Green, Herbalist, copyright 2008

For more information please refer to James Green’s book, The Male Herbal, 2nd Edition