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Sassafras and safrole.

Newsgroups: alt.folklore.herbs
Subject: Re: Sassafras Trees: Source for Live Trees
From: bhaile.leo.vsla.edu (Bess Haile)
Date: Thu, 20 Apr 1995 17:02:06 GMT

> I'm looking for a source (local Seattle area nursery or mail order) for live Sassafras trees. We used to use the roots to make an excellant tea when I was a kid back in Pennsylvania. I've seen the bark sold in stores but I'd like to plant some live trees around my property.

We have sassafras all over our farm, so be warned that it spreads by underground runners and it spreads fast and it spreads a lot. In fact, if you thought I could ship it safely, I'd be willing to pull up some shoots with roots and send them to you...I don't know...any way, just be ready for this stuff to take over.

We drink it all the time, though I've heard that it is a baddie...

Bess Haile in zone 7 virginia


From: gold.ilp.mit.edu (Mark D. Gold)

>We drink it all the time, though I've heard that it is a baddie...

Bess,

I do not think occassional use of sassafras tea (or medicinal use where indicated) is something to worry about. There were tests conducted about 30 years ago giving large quantities of a single chemical constituent (safrole) from sassafras to rats. It is now understood by most scientists that these types of tests do not necessarily reflect what happens when the whole products are ingested in reasonable quanities by human beings. There are *single chemicals* from many products that have been shown to be carcinogenic by giving large amounts to rats (e.g., estragole from basil).


From: dww5.psu.edu (Dale Woika)

>I do not think occassional use of sassafras tea (or medicinal use where indicated) is something to worry about.

The carcenogenicity of sassafras tea is about equal to a can of dark beer. There are a couple of other potential problems with saffrole, but none of them are particularly exciting by themselves. The risk, however, as is with all known or suspected carcenogens or mutagens, is the action of these chemicals as cofactors in the overall risk of cancer to any given individual.

In other words, a person leading a clean life, who is in good health & has good eatinig habits is not likely to notice any problems from the occasional sassafras tea. For all of you netters' edifications, things like black pepper and toasted bread are significantly more carcenogenic/mutagenic than saffrole (& there are many known carcenogens in our foods & in our environment); however, you have to weigh the risks for yourselves.

And what would gumbo be like without filee?

Dale



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