Because there is no evidence of effectiveness, sassafras should not be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, infections, or any other medical condition.
Sassafras is a pernnial tree native to Eastern United States. The Native Americans used infusions made from the root bark as a remedy to treat fevers, diarrhea and rheumatism. Sassafras contains safrole, a volatile oil, which showed anticancer effects in lab and animal studies, but it is also a carcinogen. Human studies have not yet been conducted.
There is no scientific evidence to support the claims below:
For general health maintenance
To reduce inflammation
To treat mucositis (inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat)
To treat rheumatoid arthritis
To treat sprains
To treat syphilis
To treat urinary tract disorders
Sassafras is classified as a carcinogenic substance. It caused liver cancer in laboratory animals; the risk of developing cancer increases with the amount consumed and duration of consumption.
Do Not Take If
You are taking drugs that are substrates of Cytochrome P450 1A2, 2A6, and 2E1: Safrole may increase the risk of side effects of these drugs.
Sassafras was once used as flavoring agent in root beer and candies, but the Food and Drug Administration has prohibited the use of sassafras as a food additive due to its carcinogenic effects.
Sassafras is a pernnial tree native to Eastern United States. The Native Americans used infusions made from the root bark as a remedy to treat fevers, diarrhea and rheumatism. Sassafras oil, extracted from the root bark, is used to perfume soaps and to flavor tea and rootbeer.
Oral administration of safrole significantly improved the diabetic condition in Streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats (12), but human studies are lacking.
Pharmacological studies revealed that sassafras oil contains safrole, a volatile oil, that exerts anticancer effects in vitro and in animal models (7)(8)(9)(10)(11). However, safrole has also been shown to be a potent carcinogen (5)(13). Based on these data, the FDA classified safrole as a Substance Generally Prohibited From Direct Addition or Use as Human Food (14).
Urinary tract disorders
Mechanism of Action
Safrole, the main active constituent, shows cytotoxic effects in human tongue squamous carcinoma SCC-4 cells by apoptosis via the mitochondria- and caspase-dependent signal pathways (7); and through the endoplasmic reticulum stress and intrinsic signaling pathways in human leukemia HL-60 cells (9). It also suppressed myelomonocytic leukemia WEHI-3 cells in vivo, and stimulated macrophage phagocytosis and natural killer cell cytotoxicity in leukemic mice (8).
Toxic effects of safrole in Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells were shown to be via induction of an increase in cytosolic free Ca2+ by causing Ca2+ release from the endoplasmic reticulum in a phospholipase C- and protein kinase C-independent fashion, and by inducing Ca2+ influx (16).
Sassafras contains safrole, which causes liver cancer in animal models and is classified as a carcinogenic substance. Risk increases with length of exposure and amount consumed. (5)