Sassafras Tea- Benefits, How To Make & Side Effects
Drinking sassafras tea can have several impressive health benefits, such as detoxifying the body, breaking fevers, thins the blood, strengthens the immune system, improves skin, health, aids respiratory health and reduces inflammation, among others. However, this tea also contains a dangerous carcinogen, called safrole, in rather large quantities, and is therefore not recommended for use by doctors, particularly in large quantities. Only very small doses of sassafras tea are recommended by herbal practitioners, who still use this plant, despite the proven risks.
Sassafras tea is made from the root and bark of the sassafras tree, a deciduous flowering tree native to North America. The flavor of the tea is reminiscent of root beer, which is why many early recipes for that refreshing beverage include sassafras. However, the high concentration of safrole, a carcinogen that can have serious side effects on the body, has made this remedy less popular in recent decades, and it is actually banned in the United States. Even so, the tree is native to eastern North America, and is still used in many areas of the world.
Benefits of Sassafras Tea
While there are health risks to consuming an excess of sassafras tea, this tea can have a positive impact on your liver, circulatory system, immune system, skin, lungs, respiratory tracts and joints. Much of these benefits come from the volatile compounds in the tea, including alpha pinene and antioxidant tannins. However, use of this tea should be monitored carefully, and only prepared in the right concentrations. If you begin to feel any adverse side effects, discontinue use immediately.
Immune System: Sassafras tea has been traditionally used in small amounts to treat the symptoms of cold and flu. It can help to reduce nasal congestion and relieve inflammation in the sinus cavities and throat.
Skin Health: The antibacterial and antiseptic properties of this tea make it particularly effective for skin health. It can aid in the elimination of eczema, psoriasis and other inflammatory issues when consumed in low to moderate amounts.
Detoxify the Body: As a liver stimulant, sassafras tea can help detoxify the body faster and also cause the body to sweat, which can further eliminate toxins through the skin. This tea also functions as a great diuretic, meaning that it speeds up urination, which is when excess toxins, fats, salt and water can be flushed out of the body. For this reason, sassafras tea is also known to boost kidney health when consumed responsibly.
Break Fevers: One of the classic uses of this tea is for stubborn fevers that don’t seem to break. Traditional medicine practitioners have been relying on the anti-inflammatory properties of sassafras tea for generations when they need to break a fever and start the healing process.
Digestion: Small amounts of sassafras tea can help ease digestion by reducing inflammation in the gut and digestive tracts, while also helping regulate your bowel movements, meaning that it can eliminate both diarrhea and constipation.
Circulation: Sassafras tea has an anticoagulant nature to it that helps with thinning the blood, making it less likely for you to suffer from blood clots, heart attacks and strokes. While this can be dangerous if you are planning on having surgery or are recovering from an injury, keeping your bloodstream clot-free is usually a very good thing.
Inflammatory Problems: People who suffer from gout, joint disorders and other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, can benefit from the detoxifying and stimulant nature of sassafras tea. When consumed responsibly, this tea can relieve pain and discomfort very effectively.
How to Make Sassafras Tea
Sassafras tea can be prepared quite easily at home, and only requires sassafras root, a pot of boiling water and a strainer, as well as honey or sweetener to improve the flavor.
Step 1 – Purchase or gather sassafras root and wash it thoroughly. Cut off any excess plant material, such as the green of a potential sapling or the tips of the roots.
Step 2 – Bring a pot of water to boil and add the roots. While the roots steep, the color will begin to change to a deep red or brown.
Step 3 – Once the roots have steeped for 5-10 minutes, strain the mixture to separate the roots and any plant material.
Step 4 – Add honey or sweetener for flavor.
This tea can be served hot or cold, and most herbalists do not recommend more than 1-2 cups per day for no longer than a month. This should be used as a treatment, rather than a consistently used preventative measure, due to the health concerns associated with this tea.
Side Effects of Sassafras Tea
There are a number of serious side effects that can result from drinking sassafras tea, including the following:
- High blood pressure
- Chronic disease
- Liver damage
As mentioned earlier, safrole is one of the primary active ingredients in sassafras, and it is a proven carcinogen, meaning that it can significantly increase your risk of cancer. In fact, concentrated sassafras oil and sassafras extract can be deadly when consumed in even moderate quantities. As little as 5 ml of concentrated sassafras oil can be lethal. While sassafras tea is not nearly as strong, it is still quite powerful, and long-term use is not encouraged.
Pregnant women, breastfeeding women and children should avoid using sassafras tea, as it can cause miscarriages for pregnant women, and can cause severe side effects in children (as listed above).
If you are having surgery, drinking sassafras tea can be very dangerous. It slows down the nervous system, which provides some of its health benefits, but in conjunction with anesthesia, the amount of safrole found in this tea can be a major complication, and can be fatal.
Only use sassafras tea in extremely limited quantities, and only with permission from a trained medical practitioner, who can ensure that it won’t have negative interactions with any other prescriptions or medications you may be using.