Archiver > MEMORY-LANE > 2005-05 > 1115926343

From: WJFreeman <>
Subject: Sassafras, safrole, and the taste of paragoric
Date: Thu, 12 May 2005 15:32:23 -0400
References: <4282E201.10526.F32B194@localhost>

juanita wrote:

> Could it be that it was thought thinning the blood would prevent
> blood clots?
> juanita
> Sassafrass tea is made from the bark of a plant. As Helen says below,
> > it was used to thin the blood, but for whatever purpose they did
> > that for is beyond me. >

To my knowledge, neither sassafras nor any of its constituents act as
anticoagulants (so-called blood thinners). However, I do remember the hoop-la
in the late 1970s when safrole, the major flavor component of sassafras,
safrole, was shown to be mutagenic. Safrole failed the Ames test and was
subsequently banned from the American market.

Where one could up until that time buy sassafras bark in some natural or health
food stores for tea, the material became scarce after that. I had a bag of
sassafras bark from which I would make tea on occasion as I happen to like the
sassafras taste very much. So when I finally used up the sassafras, that was

Like so many things we reminisce over, sassafras and its major flavor
constituent, safrole, turn out to be not such a good thing after all.

Here in the South, we have sassafras bushes growing virtually on every road
side. Once you know the leaf shape you can easily spot the shrubs and can
confirm the bush by breaking a twig and smelling it. In the fall the sassafras
leaves are one of the first to turn and turn they do a brilliant orange to red
color. This makes these nuisance plants really stand out at that time.

Now for something completely the same, anyone remember the taste of paregoric?
It too has a checkered history. But I will stop here. If anyone wants to know
more, just ask.


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