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Chaparral

SCIENTIFIC NAME(S): Larrea divaricata Cav. [synon. with L. tridentata (DC) Coville], also referred to as L. glutinosa Engelm. Family: Zygophyllacea

COMMON NAME(S): Chaparral, creosote bush, greasewood, hediondilla

Chaparral , is an herb derived from the common desert shrubs Larrea tridentata and Larrea divaricata . Native to the Southwestern United States, the leaves and stem of these desert plants have been used for centuries by Native American healers.

History

Chaparral tea was used as a remedy by American Indians and has been suggested for the treatment of bronchitis and the common cold, to alleviate rheumatic pain, stomach pain, chicken pox, and snakebite pain. A strong tea from the leaves has been mixed with oil as a burn salve. It is an ingredient in some otc weight loss teas.

In 1959, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) was informed through lay correspondence that several cancer patients claimed beneficial 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. Additional cases observed by the physicians at the University of Utah included four patients who responded to some degree to treatment with the tea, including two with melanoma, one with metastatic choriocarcinoma, and one with widespread lymphosarcoma. After 2 days of treatment, the patient with lymphosarcoma discontinued chaparral treatment, despite the disappearance of 75% of his disease. The choriocarcinoma patient, who had not responded well to other therapies, responded well to chaparral tea for 2 months after which the disease became progressive. Of the melanoma patients, one experienced a 95% regression and the remaining disease was excised; the other, after remaining in remission for 4 months, subsequently developed a new lesion.

Reports subsequently appeared in the lay literature describing the virtues of chaparral tea as an antineoplastic treatment.

Botany :- The chaparrals are a group of closely-related wild shrubs found in the arid regions of the southwestern US and Mexico. Chaparral found in health food stores usually consists of leaflets and twigs. This branched bush grows to 270 cm. Its leaves are bilobed and have a resinous feel and strong smell.

Uses of Chaparral

Chaparral tea has been widely used in folk medicine to treat conditions ranging from the common cold to snakebite pain. A derivative was formerly used as a food preservative. Anecdotal and in vitro evidence suggests antineoplastic effects

Side Effects of Chaparral

No longer classified as safe. Chaparral may cause liver damage, contact dermatitis, and stimulate most malignancies

Dosage

A tea can be prepared by steeping 1 teaspoon (approximately 5 grams) of leaves and flowers in 1 cup (250 ml) of hot water for ten to fifteen minutes. People should drink three cups per day for a maximum of two weeks unless under the care of a physician expert in the use of botanical medicines. Alternatively, 0.5-1 ml of tincture can be taken three times per day. Topically, cloths can be soaked in oil preparations or tea of chaparral and applied several times per day (with heat if helpful) over the affected area. Capsules of chaparral should be avoided.

Toxicology

The creosote bush can induce contact dermatitis.NDGA has been found to induce mesenteric lymph node and renal lesions in rats; and because of these problems, it was removed from the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list in 1970.

Several reports have linked the ingestion of chaparral tea with the development of liver damage. In all 3 cases, the patients took chaparral tablets or capsules for 6 weeks to 3 months. They developed signs of hepatic damage as evidenced by liver enzyme abnormalities; these resolved following discontinuation of the plant material. These reports indicate that chronic ingestion of chaparral may be associated with liver damage.

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