Sassafras Leaf Benefits
Sassafras leaf is currently the only part of the tree that is allowed to be used. Sassafras is a fragrant plant with a licorice scent. The leaves are specifically used in Gumbo recipes, while roots have found use in teas and traditional root beers. Recently, the roots of Sassafras were discovered to be hepatotoxic and carcinogenic. Thus, even though sassafras is the only North American spice, its use is restricted to limited areas.
Sassafras Leaf and Medicinal Use
Sassafras leaf contains about 0.4% essential oils of which safrol (45%) is the major component. Other minor components include camphor, citral, phellandrene and alpha pinene. Safrol or safrole has been discovered to be a potent hepaticarcinogen and hepatoxin in animals. The concentration of safrol in sassafras leaves is less and hence they are considered safe for use in medicines.
- Sassafras leaves treats syphilis and gonorrhea.
- It is a blood thinner and anticoagulant.
- Boil leaves for 20 minutes to get healthy sassafras tea. The tea provides relief from arthritic and rheumatic pain.
- The tea is effective against cold, flu, and chest infections too.
Culinary Uses of Sassafras Leaf
Sassafras leaf benefits are restricted to a small area where it is an important ingredient – the American federal state of Louisiana: Cajun and Creole cuisine. Even though both of these cuisines are different from each other, they prefer similar tastes and degree of spiciness and pungency. The main spice used here is the sassafras leaf, in addition to others like celery, paprika, and thyme.
Sassafras is used as file powder (powdered sassafras leaves) in gumbo recipes. Gumbo is a tasty soup made of crawfish, chicken, seafood, African vegetables etc. Along with sassafras leaves, soup is also seasoned with celery, thyme, and paprika. Gumbos are paired with rice while serving.
Sassafras leaf benefits are looked at with suspicion due to high content of safrol in it. Sassafras leaves are not available in Europe. A good substitute for sassafras leaves is lemon balm but use in minimal quantities since it has a stronger aroma than sassafras.
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