Sassafras
Title: Sassafras
Additional Names: Saxifrax; ague tree; cinnamon wood; saloop
Literature References: Deciduous tree, Sassafras albidum (Nutt.) Nees, Lauraceae; also known as S. variifolium (Salisb.) Kuntze, and S. officinale Nees & Eberm. Medicinal parts are the peeled and dried root bark, root wood, and essential oil of the root wood; traditionally used as carminative, diuretic, dermatologic and antirheumatic. Habit. North America. Constit. Volatile oil (5-9%), isoquinoline alkaloids (<0.1%), lignins such as sesamin, resin, sitosterol, starch, tannins, wax. Review of pharmacology: D. Hutson, M. J. Cupp in Toxicology and Clinical Pharmacology of Herbal Products, M. J. Cupp, Ed. (Humana Press, Totowa, 2000) pp 245-252; of constituents and traditional uses: J. Barnes et al., Herbal Medicines (Pharmaceutical Press, London, 2nd Ed., 2002) pp 414-416.
 
Derivative Type: Volatile oil
CAS Registry Number: 8006-80-2
Additional Names: Oil of sassafras
Literature References: Obtained from the root. Constit. 80-90% safrole, eugenol, a-pinene, a- and b-phellandrene, asarone, d-camphor, myristicin.
Properties: Yellow to reddish-yellow liquid; characteristic odor and taste of sassafras. d2525 1.065-1.077. aD25 +2 to +4°. nD20 1.5250-1.5350. Very slightly sol in water; sol in 2 vols 90% alcohol. Keep well closed, cool and protected from light.
Optical Rotation: aD25 +2 to +4°
Index of refraction: nD20 1.5250-1.5350
Density: d2525 1.065-1.077
 
CAUTION: Reported to be toxic and carcinogenic due to the content of safrole, q.v. Potential symptoms of overexposure include vomiting, stupor, spasm followed by paralysis (Barnes).
Use: Formerly as flavoring in beverages such as root beer. Oil as scent in perfumes and soaps.

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