The Collison Newsletter January 2012




The chaparral plant (named Larrea Tridentate) is native to, and commonly found in, the desert regions of south-western United States and Mexico. Common names of chaparral plants include ‘greasewood’, ‘creosote bush’ (so-named because of its smell, although the plant contains no creosote) and ‘stinkweed’ (because it stinks - literally!).


It contains a chemical called NDGA (nordihydroguaiaretic acid) which is mainly responsible for its medicinal properties.

Medicinal Properties and Uses of Chaparral 

NDGA is an anti-oxidant. It is listed in pharmacology manuals (such as the Merck Manual) as such, and its therapeutic category is an ‘anti-neoplastic’ substance. An anti-neoplastic substance is defined as ‘an agent that prevents the development, growth and   proliferation of malignant cells’.


The plant was originally used by the Southwest American Indians, and can thus be regarded as an old Indian remedy. The Indians rubbed chaparral resin on burns, and used chaparral tea to treat a variety of conditions including colds, bronchitis, arthritis, rheumatism, skin sores and wounds.


The chaparral herb is said to have analgesic, expectorant and strong anti-inflammatory properties.


As an expectorant, it helps clear mucus from the respiratory tract.


Having a high anti-oxidant content, chaparral can protect against cell damage from free radicals. This property of NGDA may help slow the aging process and may even extend life expectancy.  Free radical cell damage can lead to cancer. Studies on laboratory rats suggest that chaparral does inhibit the growth of tumours. The treated animals survived significantly longer than the ones in the control group. The literature from the National Cancer Institute contains several case reports of tumour shrinkage in people who used chaparral.


Again, animal studies have shown that chaparral has anti-inflammatory properties, which gives credence in its traditional use in treating arthritis. As an analgesic, chaparral aids in the management of arthritis.


Chaparral is often used in detoxification formulas, as it is said to purify the blood and detoxify the liver.

Modes of Use 

Chaparral leaf and twigs of the plant are used to make chaparral tea. (This is how it was mainly used by the Indians)


As a supplement, it is available as capsules with 500mg of powdered leaf. Dose: two capsules per day. (From


Chaparral is very strong tasting, and many people find it rather unpleasant to consume.


Chaparral herb has an interesting spectrum of properties.  It can be taken as ‘tonic’, for its anti-oxidant benefits, or used as therapy for conditions like arthritis and upper respiratory infections. Its possible role in the management of cancer is limited, but could be combined as an adjuvant to the treatment regime already in place.

Chaparral is considered safe in the amounts as set out above.


*Copyright 2012: The Huntly Centre.

Disclaimer: All material in the website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Consult a health professional regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations expressed herein, with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.


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