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Sassafras Medulla, Sassafras Pith. Sassafras Radix, B.P., Sassafras Root.

Botanical name:


Related entry: Oil of Sassafras

Sassafras pith is obtained from the young stems and branches of Sassafras officinale, Nees and Eberm. (N.O. Laurineae), being collected late in the autumn, after frost, and dried. It is official in the U.S.P. It occurs in light, whitish, more or less cylindrical, often curved or coiled, pieces, of variable length, and about 5 millimetres in diameter. The pith has a slight odour and a mucilaginous taste. When macerated in water it yields a mucilage which is not precipitated upon the addition of alcohol.

Constituents.—The chief constituent of sassafras pith is the mucilage, but it also contains a trace of volatile oil.

Action and Uses.—Sassafras pith has demulcent properties, and the mucilage prepared from it is used in collyria.


Mucilago Sassafras Medullae, B.P.C.—MUCILAGE OF SASSAFRAS PITH. 1 in 50.
Dose.—8 to 30 mils (2 to 8 fluid drachms).


Sassafras root (Sassafras, U.S.P.) is obtained from Sassafras officinale, Nees and Eberm. (N.O. Laurineae), a tree which is widely distributed over the eastern United States. The dried root comes into commerce in large, branched pieces, more or less covered with a dark reddish or greyish-brown spongy bark. The wood is greyish-yellow or greyish-red in colour, soft, and easily cut. Both bark and wood, but especially the former, have an agreeable, fragrant odour, and an aromatic, slightly astringent taste. On incineration, it yields about 2 per cent. of ash.

Constituents.—The root contains about 2 per cent. of volatile oil, while the bark alone contains from 6 to 9 per cent.

Action and Uses.—Sassafras is an ingredient of compound decoction of sarsaparilla; its action, by virtue of its volatile oil, is that of a mild aromatic and carminative.

The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.

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