Saturday, May 10, 2014


CHAPARRAL-Larrea Tridentata, Larrea Divaricata

Also known as:  creosote bush, greasewood, black bush, grease bush

Parts used:  leaves

Meridians/Organs affected:  digestive, circulatory, respiratory, blood, kidneys, liver

Properties:  bitter, antiseptic, antibiotic, parasiticide, alterative, expectorant, diuretic, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antispasmodic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-carcingogenic, blood purifying, anti-scrofulous, emetic (in large amounts), anti-venomous, astringent

Chaparral is a member of the Zygophyllaceae family.  It is a low desert shrub found primarily in the southwestern united states.  It is a spindly, wind-whipped looking plant with tiny leaves that have a greasy-leathery texture and permeate an odor very similar to creosote.  The plant can be anywhere from 3-10 feet tall and is one of the oldest known living plants on the planet along with horsetail-dating back over 10,000 years.  It is found mostly  in the desert regions of Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and California.  It blooms after rainfall between March and May and has bright yellow flowers with five petals.

There is much controversy over this herb.  Chaparral is an indian name that refers to any dense thicket of shrubs that grows in an alkali soil.  The medicinal uses go back centuries without any reported bad effects but more recent data has said it can harm the liver, etc.  So what is one to believe?  (Don't get me started on the millions of pharmaceutical drugs on the market that kill people every day).

The Pima and Maricopa Indians boiled the branches to extract the gum and would then use this decoction for digestive issues and stomach complaints.  The Native Americans also used an infusion of the leaves and stems to treat cancer, tuberculosis, colds, arthritis, venereal disease, rheumatism and bowel cramping.  They also used it to purify the blood.  In some places chaparral was used to help balding and more recently it has been used to take the residue of LSD from the system.  

Chaparral contains a component called NDGA (nordihydroguariaretic acid).  It is a very powerful antioxidant.  It has been shown to prevent cell damage that can typically lead to cancer and it also has been shown to have some anti-tumor capabilities.  The resin that makes up 20% of chaparral has been found to be antispasmodic and antimicrobial as well as being antioxidant in nature.  NDGA has been the subject of many studies and aside from being anti-scrofulous (meaning it helps with tumors in the lymph area) it has also been proven to be anti-fungal, anti-parasitic and antibacterial.  It has been found especially useful for skin diseases.  Chaparral also helps relieve pain and has been found to increase ascorbic acid levels (vitamin C) in the adrenals.  It is believed to protect against sun exposure, radiation and other potential carcinogens.  The branches were used in the food industry until the 1960's to prevent rancidity in fats and oils.  Given the debate over this herb, I would prefer to let some of the 'experts' give their opinions here.

"Chaparral, also known as creosote bush, has been used by Native Americans to treat a variety of illnesses, including cancer.  Chaparral contains an ingredient called nordihydroguariaretic acid (NDGA), a potent antitumor agent.  NDGA inhibits aerobic and anaerobic glycolysis (the energy producing ability) of cancer cells.  The flavonoids present in chaparral have strong antiviral and antifungal properties." -Herbal Medicine, Healing and Cancer: A Comprehensive Program for Prevention and Treatment, by Donald Yance, Jr.  C.N., M.H., A.H.G.

"The plant is the creosote bush, or chaparral, also known as greasewood, and is a member of the oak family.  All tests on chaparral indicates that it is positively non-toxic and has never shown any side effects on patients and if present research is successful it will offer the first anti-cancer drug.  The Indians have used chaparral herb for many internal body malfunctions as well as for rash and acne-type skin eruptions, for hundreds of years.  Chaparral has antibiotic and antiseptic properties along with immune stimulating substances." -Miracle Medicine Herbs by Richard Melvin Lucas

"More than 20 years ago, a Native American healer from Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, traveled the Rocky Mountain West, successfully treating cancer patients with chaparral as the primary remedy.  Chaparral, extremely bitter, contains NDGA, an anticancer substance.  IT is also thought to possess more of the antioxidant enzyme SOD (Super Oxide Dismutase) than any other plant.  Herbs used widely in South Americe for cancer, even by medical doctors, are pau d'arco and suma.  These herbs are less bitter than chaparral and work by tonifying immunity."  -Healing with Whole Foods; Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, by Paul Pitchford

"In 1959, the National Cancer Institute was informed through lay correspondence that several cancer patients claimed effects on their cancers from drinking chaparral tea.  Years later, a similar treatment was brought to the attention of physicians at the University of Utah, when an 85 year old man with a proven malignant melanoma of the right cheek with a large cervical metastasis refused surgery and treated himself with chaparral tea.  Eight months later he returned with marked regression of the tumor."  -Guide to Popular Natural Products by Ara Dermarderosian

"Herb industry surveys show that more than 200 tons (of chaparral) were sold in the united states between 1970 and 1990.  And during this time there was not a single complaint of side effects arising from the use of this herb.  When two to three cups of chaparral tea or the isolated NDGA were given daily to more than 50 cancer patients, the only side effects were occasional nausea and diarrhea.  Very large doses resulted in lowered blood pressure."  -Herbs for Health and Healing by Kathy Keville

It is important to note that the FDA advises against using chaparral as it is considered harmful to the liver-and yet chaparral has been a component of essiac tea since it first came out on the market.  It is also important to note that the FDA approves drugs on a daily basis that not only are toxic to the liver but practically every other vital organ in the body.  Why anyone would use something approved by the FDA is beyond me as they are responsible for the deaths of thousands with their pharma approved drugs.  Keep in mind this company is set aside to approve thing for 'YOUR HEALTH AND WELFARE' and what they approve will KILL YOU DEAD.  So...just use your brain if you choose to go either route.  Use what you feel is best for YOU despite what anyone else has to say about it.

Chaparral is best used as a tincture or tea but there are any number of applications that have proven useful.  As is customary with my posts I am including some links herein for your perusal.  Use them wisely.

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