What is the story behind the banning of Safrole?

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Safrole which is a unique substance in Sassafras can not be found in significant quantity in any food products sold in the united states today. On the surface it looks like a clear and simple reason.

Official Reason behind the banning of Safrole

In the 1950s in a government study, Safrole had been force fed to rats over a long period of time and had been shown to cause cancer in those rats.

What is the controversy?

The controversy lies in the fact that further research from a third party(Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) discovered that Safrole is no more likely to cause cancer in humans than indoor air, or tap water. The rats in the original study were fed impractically high amounts of safrole, even if you drank Sassafras tea every day for your life you would not be anywhere close to the amount of safrole that those rats were subject to. But the primary reason why the conclusion was in error is because when safrole breaks down during the rats digestive process it produces a possible carcinogen called 1-hydroxysafrole, This chemical is not produced when humans digest safrole nor are there any other potential carcinogens produced. On the contrary, some similar chemicals to safrole have even been proven to help humans protect against cancer, and safrole may do the same when consumed in proper quantities.

What is the real reason that safrole was banned?

What is the real reason that the government banned this medicinal plant? One theory is that the government wants us to forget that we have access to this free powerful medicine and food flavoring, so that they can tax us on imported flavorings. One support for this theory is that other plants that contain safrole are not banned but are imported and taxed such as Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Black Pepper. Another more popular theory lies behind the little known fact that Sassafras can be used in the production of the drug MDMA more commonly known as ecstasy. So it is possible that the government created an experiment to claim that Sassafras causes cancer, pushing Sassafras and Safrole out of our everyday lives, all to help them gain more control over MDMA production. Although MDMA did not become popular till the 1980s it has been known to science since the early 1900s. It has had many uses during that time including being used as an interrogation drug, and as a drug to assist in psychoanalysis. So we may never know why safrole was made illegal, but there are a lot of questions behind that facts and reasons that the government has given us.

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8 Responses

  1. yet another example of the government oppressing us under the guise of protecting us from ourselves. Bad science keeps us away from this plant. There probably is a hidden underlying reason why it was banned. It probably means we need to be consuming it.

  2. Is safrole different than sasafras? I don’t understand why you say it is banned by the government. I’m pretty sure you can buy file’ at any grocery in Louisiana where it is still used in thickening gumbo. My mother in law gave me some a couple years back- commercially packaged.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Safrole is a chemical found in sassafras, primarily in the bark. I did a little more research and it looks file uses sassafras leaves which contain very small amounts of safrole so they are approved to sell that product as food. Anything with larger amounts of safrole can not be sold as a food item. you can still buy topical products with safrole in them.

  3. As an Army private in North Carolina in the early ‘70s, we rented a small farm south of Sanford, which had a grove of sassafras trees. I dug the roots and following a recipe, found in my “Last Whole Earth Catalog”, made my own root beer. Now, over 50 years, I am still alive and taking nourishment. Go figure!

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