Sassafras oil overdose

Poisoning due to an ingestion of sassafras oil.

Poisonous Ingredient 

  • safrole

Where Found 

  • sassafras oil

Note: This list may not be all inclusive.


  • respiratory       o shallow breathing may also be rapid  
  • skin       o can burn the skin through contact  
  • gastrointestinal       o Abdominal pain       o diarrhea       o nausea       o Vomiting  
  • heart and blood vessels       o rapid heartbeat       o Low Blood pressure  
  • nervous system       o unconsciousness       o dizziness       o hallucinations

Home Treatment 
Call Poison Control for appropriate treatment.

Before Calling Emergency 
Determine the following information:

  • the patient’s age, weight, and condition  
  • the name of the product (ingredients and strengths if known)  
  • the time it was swallowed  
  • the amount swallowed

Poison Control, or a local emergency number 
They will instruct you if it is necessary to take the patient to the hospital. See Poison Control centers for telephone numbers and addresses. Take the container with you to the emergency room.

What to expect at the emergency room 
Some or all of the following procedures may be performed:

  • Administer castor oil.  
  • Use gastric lavage.  
  • Induce emesis (must be done very carefully so the patient will not inhale any of the oil). This is best left to the medical personnel at an emergency room.  
  • Give milk or mineral oil.  
  • Give other fluids, with the amount being determined by kidney function.  
  • Treat the symptoms.

Expectations (prognosis) 
Sassafras oil is considered very toxic. Survival past 48 hours is usually a good sign that recovery will occur. If damage to the kidneys has occurred, it may take several months to heal.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 3, 2012
by Gevorg A. Poghosian, Ph.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.