Sassafras oil is extracted from Sassafras albidum (also known as Sassafras officinale, S. variifolium and Laurus sassafras) of the Lauraceae family and is also known as sassafrax.
Sassafras oil is high in safrole (80-90%) which is banned by the FDA because it is carcinogenic (cancer causing) and even a small quantity can be lethal.
Origin of Sassafras
Sassafras is a deciduous tree that grows up to 40 meters (131 feet) high with many slender branches, a soft and spongy orange-brown bark and small yellow-green flowers. The bark and the wood are aromatic.
In ancient herbal medicine Sassafras was used in the treatment of high blood pressure, rheumatism, arthritis, gout, menstrual and kidney problems, and for skin complaints.
Due to the high content of safrole in Sassafras oil, it is carcinogenic.
Sassafras is listed in the 1983 British Herbal Pharmacopoeia for head lice, cutaneous eruptions, rheumatic pains and gout. The wood and bark yield a bright yellow dye.
Sassafras oil is extracted from the dried root bark chips by steam distillation.
The main chemical components are safrole, 5-menthoxy-eugenol, asarone, coniferaldehyde, camphone and traces of thujone, anethole, apiol and eugenol.
Sassafras oil should NEVER be used in aromatherapy, as it can be lethal if used incorrectly.