Chaparral is the most searched herb for treating different types of cancer and at different stages of the illness. In almost any website that deals with herbal remedies for treating cancer, chaparral has a prominent place. In this article we will try to find out the properties of this herb along with its side effects and other considerations.
What Is Chaparral?
Chaparral is a plant that belongs to the zygophyllales family (Oak family). The herb has the botanical name of Larrea Tridentata and is also known by the following other names – Creosote Bush, Greasewood, Hediondilla, Larrea divaricata and Gobernadora. The herb got its name from the desert regions of the USA and Mexico commonly referred as the Chaparral ecosystem.
Also, some say the plant is called chaparral because in Spanish Gobernadora (its other name) means ‘to govern’ indicating that chaparral does not allow any other plants to thrive in its vicinity. The botanical name of the plant was derived from the name of a famous 18th century scientist Juan Antonio Hernandez de Larrea.
The evergreen flowering plant Chaparral is found commonly in the desert areas of the American Southwest, North America and Mexico. Specifically, the herb is extensively found in the Sonoran, Mohave and Chihuahuan deserts. The Chaparral plants found in these deserts are as old as 11, 700 years. The herb has been used extensively by desert tribes such as the O’odham natives of the Sonoran Desert. This low toxicity herb (as claimed by some experts) was used even millions of years ago as per a leading herbalist.
The four to eight feet high plant is thorny by nature and has small olive green leaves. The flower of this herb has five petals and is yellow in color. To grow, Chaparral needs well drained soil. The medicinal parts of this herb include its leaves and stems. The leaves of this plant are usually collected by summer and later dried for a year. The herb is extremely strong tasting and may not be liked by everyone.
However, the bad news is that the herb is banned by the US FDA and Health Canada. In spite of this the herb is available in the US and is extensively used by its supporters. The herb is also used in homeopathic treatments in extremely diluted states, and the use of homeopathic medicines containing chaparral is not banned.
How Does It Work?
It is claimed that chaparral has powerful antioxidant properties. It also has the following other effects – anti-fungal, anti-tumor, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic etc. One of the leading constituents in this herb is known as NDGA – nordihydroguaiaretic acid.
NDGA is considered a vital element in the destruction of cancer cells. Some scientists say that Chaparral works in our body by stopping aerobic combustion in cell mitochondria and thereby slowing down the multiplication of viruses and bacteria.
Health Benefits Of Chaparral
This cure-all herb has the following health benefits:
To Treat Cancer
Chaparral as an herb is popular because many claim that it can effectively treat and lessen cancer symptoms. Native Americans use this herb to treat different forms of cancer. The NDGA and SOD enzyme found in Chaparral have anti-tumor and anti-oxidant effects. It is also said that almost twenty years ago a Native American tribal member successfully treated many cancer patients using this herb. Chaparral tea is a favorite herbal remedy for cancer treatment across the world these days.
For Treating Skin Conditions
The herb is used to treat both malignant and chronic skin conditions. Chaparral can be used topically to treat the following conditions – bruises, sores, tetanus, pains, aches, cuts, inflammation of the skin due to a wound, chicken pox, rashes, acne etc. The herb treats the skin as it has anti-biotic and anti-septic properties.
For Female Problems
Traditionally, Chaparral was also used to solve the following female related disorders – amenorrhea, prolapsed uterus, leucorrhea and dysmenorrhea. The herb effectively treats stomach cramps due to delayed menstruation.
Desert tribes are known to take the help of chaparral for treating respiratory tract infections, especially cold. It is said that inhaling the steam from boiled chaparral leaves help in relieving congestion & asthma symptoms.
The herb also can be used to treat the following digestion problems – Indigestion, heartburn, stomach acidity, cramps and gas.Individuals from the Coahuillas tribe make infusion of the leaves for solving digestion related problems. The tribe members also chew the plant gum frequently as they believe the herb has the following properties – antidiarrheal, antidysenteric and antispasmodic.
To Treat Bone & Joints
According to some, chaparral can be taken internally to treat problems such as arthritis and rheumatism. It is also documented that elderly tribal members prepare liniment from the herb to treat swollen limbs. Another tribe (Isleta tribe) makes use of Chaparral leaf decoction for a body bath to treat bone and joints related conditions.
Chaparral also can fight the following types of infections – urinary tract infection, parasite infection, chickenpox, sexually transmitted disease etc.
Apart from the above, chaparral can be used to treat the following – diabetes, gall stones & kidney stones, tuberculosis, liver problems, obesity etc. The herb can be used externally to treat hair problems (such as brittle hair and dandruff) and brittle nails. Traditionally, tribal members made infusions and poultices (of stem and leaves) to treat snake bites, spider bites and scorpion stings. Many also use this herb as a blood purifier as it cleanses the system.
Chaparral tea can be made by using five grams (one teaspoon) of dried leaves & flowers of the herb. The effective dosage level for drinking this herbal tea is three cups per day for two weeks. Externally, one can also dip a cloth into the chaparral tea and apply on the affected part as and when needed. Experts say that chaparral tablets and capsules should not be taken.
Side Effects, Overdose & Other Considerations
The herb is currently banned in the USA as it was found that it can affect the functioning of the liver (based on few isolated cases of liver damage). However, many herbalists do not agree with this ban.Other side effects of this herb due to over dose include the following – nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting and loss of appetite. The herb should be avoided by pregnant and breast feeding women.
Chaparral is one of those herbs that is banned by the governing authorities from the civilized world but extensively used by the tribal population. Whatever may be said for and against this herb, it is a fact that chaparral tea is a popular herbal supplement. Many search and use this herb to treat cancer. There are many success stories and equal number of articles against this herb.
Chaparral should be avoided with Hepatotoxic drugs (drugs that can harm the liver).