The bark of the root of Sassafras albidum (Nutt.) Nees (Nat. Ord. Lauraceae). Woods of eastern half of North America. Dose, 1 to 3 drachms.
Common Name: Sassafras.
Principal Constitutents.—A volatile oil (Oleum Sassafras), sassafrid, a decomposition product of tannic acid, resin, and tannin.
Preparations.—1. Sassafras Medulla, Sassafras Pith. (Insipid, light, spongy, white and odorless, cylindrical pieces.)
2. Oleum Sassafras, Oil of Sassafras. Yellow or reddish-yellow liquid having the taste and aroma of sassafras; soluble in alcohol. Dose, 1 to 15 drops, on sugar or in emulsion.
3. Specific Medicine Sassafras. Dose, 5 to 30 drops, in syrup or on sugar.
Action and Therapy.—External. Oil of sassafras is rubefacient and obtundant, and has been used to discuss wens, and to relieve rheumatic and other painful conditions, as bruises, sprains, and swellings. A mucilage of the pith (2 drachms to Water, 16 fluidounces) was formerly much used in acute ophthalmias. An infusion of the bark is a domestic remedy for rhus poisoning.
Internal. Sassafras tea is a popular alterative, diaphoretic, and carminative. It and the oil are decidedly stimulant. The latter, like other aromatic oils, has been used with more or less success in cystitis with much mucoid flow, and in so-called chronic gonorrhea. The mucilage of the pith may be used as a demulcent. From ten to fifteen drops of the oil, administered in hot water or upon sugar, will sometimes relieve the pangs of dysmenorrhea. The chief use of sassafras oil is to flavor pharmaceutic syrups and other preparations.
The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 1922, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D.