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  1. #1
    Junior Member forageporage's Avatar
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    Can anyone tell me is Sassafras flowers and berries are edible? I've looked through MANY resourses. They all describe the flowers and berries; but, nothing states if they are edible or not! This seems odd to me?!?!?!?


  2. #2

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    In my herb book it says that sassafras inhibits the action of important liver enzymes and should not be used. And according to the book the bark from the tree is what was used .
    I Wonder Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, "I think I'll squeeze these dangly things here, and drink what ever comes out?"

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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    In my area the roots are used. It was used in place of coffee and regular tea during shortages or hard times.

    They are split and dried and brewed into tea. My grandad used to process them annually and they are still available in small stores and roadside veggie stands. I thought that was how everyone used them.
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    Senior Member gryffynklm's Avatar
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    I looked up Sassafras Toxicity and found this article. The bark seems to have the most toxicity although its at a low level. Welderguy Don't worry, you're good, It looks like you would have to consume a lot and make it a regular part of your diet. I couldn't find if there are multiple varieties that might have a higher concentration of the Safrole toxin.

    http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/c...on/Sassaal.htm
    Karl

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    Quote Originally Posted by gryffynklm View Post
    I looked up Sassafras Toxicity and found this article. The bark seems to have the most toxicity although its at a low level. Welderguy Don't worry, you're good, It looks like you would have to consume a lot and make it a regular part of your diet. I couldn't find if there are multiple varieties that might have a higher concentration of the Safrole toxin.

    http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/c...on/Sassaal.htm
    Thank you for the link.
    I Wonder Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, "I think I'll squeeze these dangly things here, and drink what ever comes out?"

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    Senior Member gryffynklm's Avatar
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    Thanks Rick, Good links and info. Bookmarked
    Karl

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    Junior Member forageporage's Avatar
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    Please allow me to dispel the urban legend. There was a medical study showing a link between Safrole and cancer in laboratory animals (rodents). The rats were fed large amounts of this essential oil found in Sassafras. This study is absolutely irrelevant for two reasons.

    First, it would be near impossible to consume an equivalent amount of Safrole, to make a comparison; even if you drank several cups of tea a day for your entire life! Think of the size of you, the size of a rat, the amount they gave the rat, and how many times more that would amount to, for you. Also, it’s important to consider what else (if anything) these animals were eating. Surely you and I won’t nourish ourselves exclusively on Sassafras!

    And second, safrole is NOT water soluble. Therefore, there isn’t any in my tea. To extract the oil is an involved process.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Safrole, also known as shikimol, is a phenylpropene. It is a colorless or slightly yellow oily liquid. It is typically extracted from the root-bark or the fruit of sassafras plants in the form of sassafras oil (although commercially available sassafras oil is usually devoid of safrole via a law passed by the FDA in 1960, see here), or synthesized from other related methylenedioxy compounds. It is the principal component of brown camphor oil, and is found in small amounts in a wide variety of plants, where it functions as a natural pesticide. Ocotea cymbarum oil made from Ocotea pretiosa,[2] a plant growing in Brazil, and sassafras oil made from Sassafras albidum,[3] a tree growing in eastern North America, are the main natural sources for safrole. It has a characteristic “sweet-shop” aroma.

    It is a precursor in the synthesis of the insecticide synergist piperonyl butoxide and the recreational drug MDMA (“Ecstasy.”)

    Carcinogenicity
    Safrole is regarded by the U.S. government to be a weak carcinogen in rats.[4] It naturally occurs in a variety of spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper and herbs such as basil. In that role safrole is believed, although not proven, to make a small but measurable contribution to the overall incidence of human cancer, equal to the hazards presented by orange juice (due to limonene) and tomatoes (caffeic acid).[5] In the United States, it was once widely used as a food additive in root beer, sassafras tea, and other common goods, but was banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after its carcinogenicity in rats was discovered. Today, safrole is also banned for use in soap and perfumes by the International Fragrance Association.

    According to a 1977 study of the metabolites of safrole in both rats and humans, two carcinogenic metabolites of safrole found in the urine of rats, 1′-hydroxysafrole and 3′-hydroxyisosafrole, were not found in human urine. This brings to question the actual carcinogenicity of safrole in humans.[6]
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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Whether it does or does not directly cause cancer is really of little concern to me. As long as something can't be proven one way or the other and as long as I have a choice in the matter I'll error on the side of caution. I'd much rather not drink Sassafras for 40 years and then find out it doesn't cause cancer than to drink it for 40 years and suddenly they say, "Snap! Ya know what? It does. Our bad."

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    Senior Member BENESSE's Avatar
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    Default Same here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    Whether it does or does not directly cause cancer is really of little concern to me. As long as something can't be proven one way or the other and as long as I have a choice in the matter I'll error on the side of caution. I'd much rather not drink Sassafras for 40 years and then find out it doesn't cause cancer than to drink it for 40 years and suddenly they say, "Snap! Ya know what? It does. Our bad."
    Can't go wrong with that approach.

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    ...and yet the two of you openly and actively encourage others to consider taking prescription medicines which are proven to cause suicide along with many other terrible side effects, including cancer. Where does "error on the side of caution" fit into that equation?

    Just sayin'!

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    Senior Member BENESSE's Avatar
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    I defer to mainstream medical professionals when it comes to pros & cons of various prescription medications, just as I defer to lawyers when it comes to matters of the law.
    Less risk that way, but hey, that's just me.

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    +1 Benesse. I told you what I would do. You cat eat all the Sassafras you can handle. My dog ain't in this fight.

    I truly hope you are never faced with a mental illness. You might view life in a completely different light...just sayin.

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    Junior Member forageporage's Avatar
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    Wow everybody. . . can you feel the love?
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    Junior Member forageporage's Avatar
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    p.s. . . . you know what's funny, no one bothered to answer my question! I didn't ask if Sassafrass is safe. I already did the research, completely. I asked if anyone knew if the flowers and berries are edible or not. I figured yous guys were well aware that many plants have parts that are edible along with parts that are not edible. Instead of getting an answer (even if it was, "don't know") I got to watch a poorly researched ethics debate. Nice intro into the group dynamics, thanx ya'll.
    Where there's a will, there's a way!

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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Yeah. Nice intro to the group.
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    Senior Member Aurelius95's Avatar
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    To answer the question of the OP, I don't know. I do know that the root is used to make tea, as noted above. Also, there used to be sassafras root in "root" beer.

    While I do not consume it, I have read that the studies that determined it to be carcinogenic could have been flawed, also as stated above.
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    Senior Member gryffynklm's Avatar
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    You Make an excellent point. In regard to your question of the toxicity of the flowers and bark being edible. I found exactly the same thing you did. It does seem odd.

    The reason you have not received a direct answer is because we, out of courtesy and curiosity done the same web searching in an attempt to find the one piece of info that you may have missed in the hope of finding the answer to your question. Out of courtesy we offered what we found instead of ignoring you. Sorry it got off track.

    Still Just my opinion and have no actual knowledge in regard to its toxicity

    ............ Eat at your own risk whatever level that risk may or may not be.

    Edible vs palatable I have chewed on young branches while hiking (small quantity). I didn't get sick. Has it caused any issues??? I don't know.

    If the Safrole oil is the toxic component, you would stand more of a chance ingesting the oils by eating the plant itself compared to steeping it in hot water. Boiling may release the oils as well. Again just my opinion.


    According to the Forest Service there are many animals deer, rabbits, birds and others that will eat the bark, twigs and fruit of the Sassafras, no mention of flowers. It also states that sassafras is not a significant part of any one animals diet and implies that the health effects if there are any have not been documented.

    http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/p...asalb/all.html

    IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE :
    Sassafras leaves and twigs are consumed by white-tailed deer in both
    summer and winter. In some areas it is an important deer food [41].
    Sassafras leaf browsers include woodchucks, marsh rabbits, and black
    bears [83]. Rabbits eat sassafras bark in winter [8]. Beavers will cut
    sassafras stems [15]. Sassafras fruits are eaten by many species of
    birds including northern bobwhites [58], eastern kingbirds, great
    crested flycatchers, phoebes, wild turkeys, catbirds, flickers, pileated
    woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, thrushes, vireos, and mockingbirds.
    Some small mammals also consume sassafras fruits [16,65,75,83].

    For most of the above mentioned animals, sassafras is not consumed in
    large enough quantities to be important. Carey and Gill [9] rate its
    value to wildlife as fair, their lowest rating.


    PALATABILITY :
    Palatability of sassafras to white-tailed deer is rated as good
    throughout its range [41].


    NUTRITIONAL VALUE :
    The nutritional value of sassafras winter twigs is fair [67]. Seasonal
    changes in nutrient composition of sassafras leaves and twigs has been
    reported. Crude protein ranged from a high of 21.0 percent in April
    leaves to a low of 6.1 in January twigs [7].

    Sassafras fruits are high in lipids and energy value [85].


    I guess i still do not have a direct answer to your question.
    Sorry I couldn't help
    Karl

    The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion the the effort he puts into whatever field of endeavor he chooses. Vincent T Lombardi

    A wise man profits from the wisdom of others.

  19. #19
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Well, let's see. I think it was you that wanted to dispel the urban legend that led to getting the thread off track. But you're welcome to blame me if you choose. Sorry we can't read your mind and know you had completely researched it. A simple side warning is unappreciated I guess. To answer your original question, I don't know.

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    Junior Member forageporage's Avatar
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    Actually the original post said "I've looked through MANY resources." I didn't come here to be insulted. I never expected you to read my mind. I came here to share what I know and learn what I don't. Karl, thanks for you time and effort. Rick, your arrogance will make it difficult to come back.
    Where there's a will, there's a way!

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