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Sassafras (Sassafras spp.)

Generic Name: Sassafras extract

Category

Herbs & Supplements

Synonyms

Brazilian sassafras, Chinese sassafras, Lauraceae (family), Ocotea pretiosa, red sassafras, Sassafras albidum (Nutt.) Nees, Sassafras randaiense (Hayata) Rehd., Sassafras tzumu (Hemsl.) Hemsl., silky sassafras, Taiwan sassafras, tzumu (Chinesese), white sassafras.

Background

The genus Sassafras contains two main species, Sassafras albidum (Nutt.) Nees and Sassafras tzumu (Hemsl.) Hemsl. Sassafras albidum is found in eastern North America, and Sassafras tzumu (Hemsl.) Hemsl. is found in Asia, primarily in China.

Although sassafras was used originally in Native American medicine, sassafras should not be used internally, as safrole found in sassafras oil and tea is carcinogenic (cancer-causing). Increased incidence of esophageal cancer has been noted in areas with habitual sassafras consumption. In addition, safrole is hepatotoxic (liver damaging).

There is insufficient evidence in humans to support the use of sassafras for any indication.

Evidence

DISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Tradition

WARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Anticoagulant (blood thinner), antifungal, diaphoretic (promotes sweating).

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older):

There is no proven safe or effective dose for sassafras in adults.

Children (younger than 18 years):

There is no proven safe or effective dose for sassafras in children.

Safety

DISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.

Allergies

Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to Sassafras species, their constituents, or members of the Lauraceae family.

Side Effects and Warnings

Safrole found in sassafras oil and tea is carcinogenic (cancer causing). Increased incidence of esophageal cancer has been noted in areas with habitual sassafras consumption. In addition, safrole is hepatotoxic (liver damaging), and may inhibit some cytochrome P450 pathways. Sassafras may also have a diaphoretic (promotes sweating) side effect.

Use cautiously in patients taking drugs or herbs metabolized by the cytochrome P450 pathways, as safrole may be a potent inhibitor of several of these pathways.

Avoid in patients with compromised liver function.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Avoid sassafras tea and oil if pregnant or breastfeeding as they are considered carcinogenic (cancer causing).

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