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Sassafras albidum more commonly known as Sassafras, is a medium sized tree, with short branches that point up at the end. As the thick, green colored leaves hang over your head, nothing would seem out of the ordinary if you passed one on the street. Chances are, you probably wouldn't even notice them. However, the existence of these trees is being threatened. Once used in the United States for many purposes, ranging from cooking to medical, this endangered tree is being exploited for the small amount of Sassafras oil produced through the bark or root of the tree.

However, legal production of Sassafras oil has stopped due to the health risk that it poses. According to Missouri department of conservation, the oil found in the Sassafras tree has lead to some disturbing results.


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The colorless, thick oil has shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals causing the FDA to ban all sales of Sassafras tea, root and oil in the United States. Still, this is not the only reason why the FDA was so eager to ban the use of Sassafras oil. Yet, due to its recreational use among young adults, safrole became a Schedule I chemical and requires a DEA permit to purchase in the United States.

Being the main raw ingredient in ecstasy, safrole is predominantly produced in Europe with the greatest manufacturer being the Netherlands. Lately, Southeast Asia has been under speculation as a prime location for the harvesting of Sassafras oil. This is an extremely low amount considering the enormity of the tree itself. MDMA is a synthetically created drug using safrole as its key ingredient. Sassafras oil is first distilled to produce pure safrole. A series of other ingredients molecules are then added to the refined oil.

The final step of the process involves crystallizing the MDMA into a hard rock formation so it can be crushed up into a fine powder to place into digestible capsules. Short term effects include impaired judgment, memory loss, and loss of coordination. Due to its increasing distribution at social events like raves, clubs, concerts, and parties, the demand for Sassafras oil has never been so high.

But now, times have changed. Through illegal harvesting, the destruction of the Sassafras habitat has resulted in over , trees being uprooted annually, just to meet the high demand of users.


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Among one of the biggest potential pitfalls of sassafras is its reported link with cancer. The FDA banned sassafras use in following research that showed it caused cancer in rats. National Library of Medicine's MedLine Plus website also discusses the potential problems that can arise due to sassafras overdose. When too much oil is consumed, poisoning can take place. This is when hallucinations, heart palpitations and other concerns can come in. MedLine even indicates serious ramifications are possible from overdose. Survival past 48 hours is usually a good sign that recovery will occur.

If damage to the kidneys has occurred, it may take several months to heal. Although the U. FDA has banned the use of safrole as a food additive and flavoring, sassafras and products containing sassafras can still be located. In many cases, these products involve the use of a safrole-free extract.

Growing Sassafras

Products containing sassafras include such things as sassafras tea, essential oils and more. Despite its ban, sassafras tea is still produced and sold in some locations. Other locations still offer recipes for homemade brews, as well. Most products marketed today that include sassafras do so without the inclusion of safrole. Sassafras has a spotty history at best. Despite its widespread use in early America, the ban on it currently makes this a potential herbal treatment that many recommend avoiding at all costs. With side effects that range from allergies to hallucinations and potential issues with cancer attached, sassafras no longer maintains the popularity it did years ago.

Still, many enjoy the flavorful addition sassafras presents in teas, candy and other creations. Always Consult Your Physician First. It is helpful to prepare yourself with health information by reading and talking to friends, but always consult your doctor before taking medical action or changing your health routine. This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.

LifeScript disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

The Dangers Of Sassafras

You know that brownies taste better when they're just out of the oven and that cranberry sauce will taste bitter if you don't add enough sugar. But do you know who invented the brownie or how to select the ripest cranberries? Aside from knowing which foods you love to curl up with, how much do really know about the history and fun facts of your favorite foods?

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The Growing Pains of MDMA: Destruction of the Sassafras Tree

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    Sassafras Tree

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