Sassafras albidum, Lauraceae. The root bark is the part of the plant used.

The root is unearthed during the autumn months.

Functions of sassafras

Sassafras is primarily used in skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis. It:

  • can also be used with benefit for the treatment of rheumatism and gout.
  • has diaphoretic properties which may be useful with fevers and systemic infections.
  • has disinfectant action which make it a valuable mouth wash.
  • acts as a specific to combat head lice and other body infestations such as scabies.

Notes on sassafras

  • For skin problems it can be used with burdock, nettle and yellow dock.
  • The constituent of the volatile oil, safrole, is both neurotoxic and hepatotoxic in large doses. This is very unlikely to be a problem in normal therapeutic doses. Take only for a limited period of time.


Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1-2 teaspoonsful of the dried leaves and let infuse for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times per day.

Tincture: take 1-2 ml of the tincture three times per day.

Oil: The oil of sassafras should be used for the external treatment of head lice. Never take this internally.

For the gardener

Sassafras is a perennial shrub or small tree, which has good autumn coloration. It prefers dry or moist sandy loam soil in full sun or partial shade.

It can be propagated by seed or by cuttings. The young plant needs to be pruned frequently to get a good shape but as it gets older this will be less frequent and only needed to maintain the shape. Suckers tend to from if the roots are cut. These should be removed when they appear.


Hoffmann, D. 2000, The New Holistic Herbal. Element Pub.

Marcin, M. M. 1990, Herbal Teas: Growing Harvesting and Brewing. Collins.

Mills, S. Y. 1989, The A-Z of Modern Herbalism: A Comprehensive Guide to Practical Herbal Therapy. Thorson.




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