SASSAFRAS, Sasafras albidum officanas
In the last days of his initial voyage, Columbus, had sailors who wanted to mutiny. However, when they smelled the fragrance of the sassafras tree, they knew they were close to land. So the sassafras tree saved a mutiny.
Later, when the Spanish arrived in Florida, they mistook the fragrant sassafras tree for a cinnamon tree. So, one of the names of the sassafras tree is cinnamon wood. As the Spaniards were exploring Florida, they saw the local Native American Indians use the bark of the roots of the sassafras tree to treat fevers, rheumatism and as a general tonic and blood purifier. The Indians said it increased urination, caused sweating and cleansed impurities out of the blood and cured many diseases.
These early enterprising Spanish merchants were quick to spread the news of this great medicinal discovery. They built special ships to haul sassafras to Europe. The sale of sassafras soon exceeded the sale of tobacco from the New World. After much was sold as medicine, they introduced it as a tea and as a flavoring for drinks. Despite all the hype and hoopla that was made over sassafras, it was still revered by most as a good herbal medicine.
The Rappahannock Indians made a tea from sassafras roots to bring out the rash to reduce fevers in measles. The Catawbas Indians showed the white man how to treat lameness by using the bark in a poultice to draw out the poisons and heal the wound. Many tribes used the root bark as a blood purifier. They figured toxic blood causes sickness. In other words, if you have toxins or impurities in your blood, they will affect the weakest part of your body and sickness and disease will settle in that part of the body.
To cleanse the blood from these impurities, some people have taken two or three antibiotic herbs, two or three cleansing herbs and two or three healing herbs that feed and build the body. They put all these herbs together and make them into a tea or a blood cleansing tonic. Then they drink this tea two or three times a day for quite a while.
It was supposed to clean the blood and help to rebuild the body. There are many other herbs besides sassafras that they used as blood cleansers, such as chaparral, sagebrush, burdock, red clover, and plantain.
The Native Americans used blood cleansing teas as antibiotics, much the same as modern day doctors use penicillin. However, blood cleansing teas feed, build and detoxify as they cleanse the blood and they don’t hurt the immune system as do the antibiotics.
The sassafras tree is a member of the laurel family. It is an aromatic deciduous tree that will grow from 10 to 40 feet tall. It has grey bark with bright green alternate leaves that are in three shapes. The outermost leaves are deeply lobed, the middle leaves are shaped like a mitten and the closer leaves are oval. The greenish-yellow flowers bloom from April until June and are sometimes used in soups. They mature into pea sized dark blue fruits that grow in clusters.
As stated above, the root bark has been used for a spring tonic. It is supposed to thin out the thick winter’s blood and clean out toxins like spring house cleaning. It is also a diuretic to increase the flow of urine, to help get rid of kidney stones, and for kidney problems. It’s good for gout, arthritis and high blood pressures.
The Native Americans used herbal blood cleansing to prevent many health problems and cure their sicknesses.