From London's Ghost Acres

Sassafras is a tree native to eastern North America and eastern Asia. Oil can be produced from the dried bark, and it leaves were rubbed into wounds by Native American tribespeople.

Sassafras is not mentioned in great length in the Pharmacopeia or the Compendium, with no description of the plant or any of its medical uses being provided.

British Pharmacopoeia 1867

Sassafras Root Sassafras Radix

“The dried root of Sassafras officinale… From North America.”[1]


“In branched pieces, sometimes eight inches in diameter at the crown; bark externally greyish-brown, internally rusty-brown, of an agreeable odour, and a peculiar aromatic warm taste; wood light, porous, greyish-yellow, more feeble in odour and taste than the bark. Also in chips.” Used in the preparations of:[2]

  • Decoctum Sarae compostium

Preparations of Sassafras

Compound decoction of Sarsaparilla / Decoctum Sarae compostium[3]

  • Jamaica Sarsaparilla, cut transversely (2 ½ oz), sassafras root in chips (1/4 oz), guaiacum wood turnings (1/4 oz), fresh liquorice root, bruised (1/4 oz), mezereon bark (60 grains), boiling distilled water (1 ½ pint)
  • dose: 2-10 fl oz

A Compendium of Domestic Medicine, 1865

Medical Articles Containing Sassafras

  • Compound Decoction of Sarsaparilla: sassafras, sliced[4]


  1. General Medical Council of Great Britain, British Pharmacopeia, (London: Spottiswoode & Co.,1867), 277
  2. GMCGB, 277
  3. GMCGB, 100
  4. Savory, John. A Compendium of Domestic Medicine (London: John Churchill and Sons, 1865), 293.