Sassafras is a tree that grows in North America. The root and bark have been used to flavor medicine and to treat symptoms of the flu. Sassafras was made into an oil or taken as a tea, but researchers have found that it is dangerous to the liver. Sassafras is toxic and should not be consumed by humans.
There are no advised doses for sassafras.
What Research Shows
There is not enough data to support that sassafras is helpful in treating health problems. We will review future studies as they are published.
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
The FDA has banned most forms of sassafras. Sassafras is likely not safe to take orally. It can cause liver damage and cancer.1-3
Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.
1. Segelman AB, Segelman FP, et al. Sassafras and herb tea. Potential health hazards. JAMA. 1976 Aug 2;236(5):477.
2. Kapadia GJ, Chung EB, et al. Carcinogenicity of some folk medicinal herbs in rats. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1978 Mar;60(3):683-686.
3. Ueng YF, Hsieh CH, et al. Inhibition of human cytochrome P450 enzymes by the natural hepatotoxin safrole. Food Chem Toxicol. 2005 May;43(5):707-712.
Last reviewed July 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board
Eric Hurwitz, DC
Last Updated: 3/30/2020