Sassafras tea: everything you need to know before trying it

Drinking Sassafras tea has long been associated with health benefits. However, recent studies warn of certain risks. Discover them!

Sassafras tea: everything you need to know before trying it

Last update: August 07, 2022

For a long time, the consumption of sassafras tea it was popular among those seeking to alleviate certain ailments and infections. In fact, the plant itself is not only used to prepare this drink, but also to thicken foods and produce a powder that is often used as a condiment.

However, its use has become controversial, as one of its main active compounds – safrole – has been found to have potentially toxic effects. What should you know about this? Below, we review its possible benefits, side effects, and recommendations for consumption. Keep reading!

What is sassafras tea?

Sassafras tea is a beverage that It is made from the leaves and roots of the sassafras tree. whose scientific name is Sassafras albidum. This species is native to parts of North America and East Asia. It is characterized by its smooth bark and striking greenish-yellow flowers.

The drink itself has a flavor and aroma reminiscent of root beer. Indeed, the plant was used in the past as a flavoring for said soda. However, in this case, the drink is prepared like other types of teas.

Simply boil the leaves and roots in water for 15-20 minutes. In this way, the aromas are infused into the liquid and the extracts are concentrated.

The tea is also available in sachets and concentrates at herbal stores. It is advisable to follow the manufacturer’s consumption recommendations.

Possible uses and benefits of sassafras tea

In folk medicine, sassafras tea is associated with analgesic properties, antimicrobial, antiparasitic and anti-inflammatory. For the moment, only test-tube and animal studies have evaluated its potential to contribute to well-being.

However, researchers have determined that further study is needed to consider it as a treatment option in humans. Indeed, we note that their Side effects may outweigh the benefits.

anti-inflammatory potential

One of the active compounds in sassafras tea, sassarandainol, has been associated with decreased levels of inflammation. In research reported by Search for natural productsthis substance — along with 10 other plant compounds — exhibited anti-inflammatory properties.

With the above, consumption of this drink is linked to a positive impact on immune function and chronic disease prevention. Is it inflammation Is associated with pathologies such as cancer, cardiovascular disorders and diabetes.

The explanation for the prevention of diabetes with sassafras tea lies in its ability to reduce systemic inflammation, which is a mechanism underlying metabolic pathologies.

Antiparasitic properties

In one study shared via Communications on natural products, sassafras extract has shown promising effects as an antiparasitic. In particular, it has made it possible to fight against the leishmaniasis parasite, a tropical infectious disease caused by the protozoan Leishmania.

Regarding these effects, the evidence is lacking. Despite this, the results determined that it can kill the parasite without affecting neighboring cells.

antidiabetic effects

Sassafras tea is not a first line treatment for diabetes.

In fact, its use should be made with caution, as the available evidence corresponds to animal studies. In a study of rats, revealed by Drug Research, the plant has shown antidiabetic potential.

In particular, the active substance called safrole was linked to lower blood sugar and relief from insulin resistance. Even so, the result is controversial, as this substance is also linked to negative health effects.

diuretic effects

Anecdotal evidence suggests that sassafras tea acts as natural diuretic. It means that stimulates the elimination of liquids retained in the tissuesthat would improve the problems such as edema and high blood pressure. However, more evidence is needed.

Other Possible Benefits of Sassafras Tea

In traditional medicine, Native Americans used sassafras tea for many other medicinal purposes. These applications have even spread to Asia and Europe, where their use has also been popularized.

coinciding with the american society WebMDthe claimed benefits are as follows:

  • Better digestion.
  • Decreased fever.
  • Urinary health care.
  • Control of skin disorders.
  • Relief of puffy eyes.
  • Treatment of sprains and bumps.
  • Prevention of insect bites.
  • Decrease in arthritis and joint disorders.

Risks and Side Effects of Sassafras Tea

In recent decades, the consumption of sassafras tea has been controversial, particularly due to evidence of its negative effects. To be more specific, safrole, one of its main active compounds, has been associated with toxic reactions and drug interactions.

In fact, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classified this stuff like “prohibited” for direct addition or use as human food. The reason? There are studies that link its contribution to liver cancer and abnormal cell growth.

It has also been linked to negative cardiovascular effects. In particular, a research on Toxicology Letters observed that safrole can induce the breakdown of plaque deposits in the arteries, which contributes to acute cardiac events.

In addition to the above, its use is not recommended during pregnancy, due to the potential risk of miscarriage. It should also not be used during breastfeeding or in young children.

Some possible drug interactions include the following:

This tea could stimulate the rupture of atheromatous plaque, which leads to acute events, such as myocardial infarction.

The magazine Drugs highlights that this plant can cause side effects, especially when taken in high doses. The most common reactions are:

  • Diaphoresis.
  • Hot flashes.
  • Stupor.
  • Exhaustion.
  • Tachycardia.
  • Spasms.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Paralysis.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Dermatitis (by topical use).
  • Drop in body temperature.

The presence of these symptoms warns of poisoning. If this is the case, it is essential to consult a doctor immediately.

What to remember from sassafras?

Although sassafras tea is linked to health benefits in traditional medicine, the truth is that there is not enough evidence to support its safety. On the contrary, studies suggest that its negative effects may have a greater impact on health.

For the above, the FDA has banned its use as a food additive and as a supplement. However, it is possible to find varieties of tea without safrole on the market. It is important to check the labels, to moderate your intake and, in case of illness, to consult a doctor first.

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