Dr. Thomas Dwan - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Thomas Dwan

Is Homemade Root Beer Bad For You?



Short answer

Unlike its artificially- and mass-produced counterpart, homemade root beer is not bad for you. It actually contains many ingredients that can help restore good health!



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Long answer

Most people wouldn’t consider a soft drink when looking for something to benefit their health, but there is one you can make yourself that will do just that: root beer. While it’s true that store bought versions contain too much sugar and synthetic ingredients to be thought of as healthy, the natural roots and herbs that go into a home brew do have some fantastic healing qualities.

There is no one true recipe for homemade root beer, but many call for sassafras root, sarsaparilla root, licorice root, ginger root, wintergreen, and cinnamon. These ingredients are all used for their various health benefits. Sassafras can be used for skin problems, gout, and rheumatism; sarsaparilla for premenstrual syndrome and menopause; licorice for stomach ulcers, heartburn, and arthritis; ginger for diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting; wintergreen for external pain relief; and cinnamon for high blood sugar and insulin function. You can’t get all that from a can of A&W!

However, there has been some controversy surrounding the main flavor contributor of root beer, sassafras, as in 1960 the FDA banned its use in commercially made foods and beverages. They believed that the safrole oil produced from sassafras caused liver damage, though this has been strongly contested and sassafras root continues to be widely used in home cooking. Due to a similar flavor, wintergreen can be used instead of sassafras for those with concerns.

Though the process is slightly lengthier than just running down to the store and cracking open a can, nothing can beat the fresh taste and healthy feeling of a homemade glass of root beer. Go on, you know you want to try it!

Possible short-term side effects

  • hives or skin rash if allergic to sarsaparilla root
  • headache from licorice root

Possible long-term side effects

  • potential liver damage if safrole oil is consumed in large quantities


  • beneficial properties for:
  • skin problems
  • gout and rheumatism
  • premenstrual syndrome and menopause
  • stomach ulcers
  • heartburn
  • arthritis
  • diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
  • pain
  • high blood sugar and insulin function

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Virgil's Zero Sugar Root Beer

  • Zero calories
  • Keto-friendly
  • Great tasting
  • No added sugar
  • Convenient 6-pack
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Lindsay
Published on: 01-13-2016
Last updated: 12-01-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Lindsay
Published on: 01-13-2016
Last updated: 12-01-2023

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