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Abstract Detail

Phytochemical Section

Cummings, Kate [1], Hall, Karen [1].

Sassafras tea: determining safety and projecting costs (human and natural) associated with harvest.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Western North Carolina consists of a community that upholds traditions of the Cherokee language and arts and crafts. One craft in particular is the cultivation, harvesting, and processing of the root of the sassafras tree, Sassafras albidum, from which they prepare teas and syrups. Sassafras, native to the eastern U.S., is a versatile species known for rapid colonization of disturbed and abandoned sites and as a food source for many woodland species. Sassafras extract was popular as a food extracts until 1960, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the presence of safrole in sassafras products (CFR, Sec. 189). Many experiments since then have confirmed the hepatocarcinogenic effects of safrole on rats in the laboratory (Zhou et al. 2007). Though, recent research on safrole-containing species from China, the South Pacific, and Micronesia concluded that when traditional indigenous preparation methods were applied, the level of safrole in the final product dropped to very little or not detectable (Chen, et al., 2009; Farag and Abo-Zeid, 1997; Reynertson et al. 2005). There has been no known chemical analysis of the safrole levels of sassafras products made using traditional indigenous methods. The purpose of the research is twofold: to work directly with the Cherokee Indians to both investigate the toxicity of sassafras products and to ensure a supply of raw material. To investigate the toxicity, we will analyze the potential of traditional preparation method to effectively reduce safrole levels to the FDA standard. We will also provide a full, long-term cost analysis model of the human and environmental costs associated with its production. To ensure a supply of sassafras root, we will be providing a stand of sassafras trees to the Center for Cherokee Plants as well as developing educational material and a map of the nursery.

Broader Impacts:

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1 - Clemson University, Forestry and Natural Resources, 261 Lehotsky Hall, Clemson, SC, 29634, USA

Indigenous community
traditional preparation
Sassafras tree
secondary compounds
Sassafras albidum

Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Sections
Session: P
Location: Khorassan Ballroom/Chase Park Plaza
Date: Monday, July 11th, 2011
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: PPT004
Abstract ID:191

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