CHAPARRAL (Larrea Tridentata) Leaf
About this Herb
Chaparral is prepared from the leaves of the evergreen desert shrub known as creosote bush (Larrea divaricata, subspecies tridentata), which is found in the southwestern United States and Mexico. The leaves are ground into a powdered extract that can be brewed into tea, which was the form used by Native Americans for centuries to treat various conditions such as respiratory illness, chickenpox, snakebite and arthritis pain. More recently, chaparral has been prepared as a botanical in pill forms as well as in salves for topical application and concentrated extracts to be brewed into tea. Chaparral extracts have multiple active ingredients, the most prominent being nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA), which has potent antioxidant properties. NDGA is found in many plant species and has been used as a food additive in low concentrations. As a botanical extract, chaparral has been claimed to have multiple beneficial effects as a free radical scavenger and useful for weight loss, liver wellness, cleansing of blood, improving immunity (cancer, HIV infection) and treating skin disorders. Chaparral is also claimed to retard aging and aid in wellbeing. However, chaparral preparations have not been shown to be effective in any medical condition.
How to use:
- Tincture-tincture with 95% ethanol at about 1:2, or as close to this as you can get while having the leaves covered by the menstruum and a few inches above it.
- Infused oil-soak (infuse) the leaves in extra virgin olive oil, and let them sit for at least 2 weeks in the oil. Cover the leaves with the oil and have a few inches of it above them. Since they resist mold, you can let the leaves stay in the oil for a longer period of time than most plants.
There are two very good reasons to make this preparation. The first is Chaparral’s use as an external antiseptic. The oil alone, or combined with other plants, can be applied directly to wounds. The second reason is Larrea’s strong antioxidant effects. The constituents (chemicals) helps stabilize the infused oil, and by adding the Chaparral oil into other oils or salves, it will slow down their rate of rancidity and give them a longer shelf life. The only drawback to this is its strong taste and smell so you may not want to employ it in preparations like lip balms.
- Salve-salves are basically infused oils solidified with beeswax with essential oils sometimes added in. Using Larrea in a salve is similar to using it as an infused oil.
- Tea-tea is a water-based preparation generally prepared with hot water. Chaparral is usually infused (hot water poured on) rather than decocted (cooked) in the water. Remember that if this is for drinking, you may want to use a light touch with the plant, it is strong tasting.
- Honey-an infused honey is when the plant is covered with honey which will eventually extract the plant constituents. There are a few ways of increasing the ability of the honey to absorb these. One is heating it in a double boiler or just keeping the jar near a warm place so that the honey is liquid enough to allow movement of the materials between the plant and the honey.
I have not used Chaparral honey yet, but I am considering it as a burn medicine to have the Larrea augment the honey for this type of treatment.
- Capsule-these are plants powdered and put into various types of capsules. There are good reasons to use capsules with Chaparral. First, the plant’s constituents are stable, so the medicinal action will still be potent even after the powdering process. The second is that this plant has a very strong taste so many people will not take it. But capsules can bypass the taste buds. Remember that if there is a lot of ‘Chaparral dust’ on the capsule, it might decrease patient compliance (meaning it will taste bad).
- Compress-a compress (compare to poultice) is prepared from a tea of the plant and then a cloth dipped into the tea is applied to the distressed body area. Chaparral compresses are especially helpful when you cannot directly soak the affected area. You can also soak a bandage with the tea (or tincture) though it is sometimes problematic to keep an area too moist for too long.
- Poultice-a poultice is when the plant is applied directly to the body (as opposed to a tea of the plant, see compress). I tend to use compresses more often as they are less sloppy. One of the most common types of poultice is called a ‘spit poultice’. This is when you chew a plant up and spit it on the hurt area. Good luck with this and Larrea.
- Powder-as mentioned in capsules, the powder of Chaparral is pretty stable and will last a while. A reason to powder it is to combine it with other plants and substances such as clay. It can also be stirred and drank, or put into capsules.
10. Wash/Soak/Sitz/Bath-these are all ways of soaking a body part in Chaparral tea (or tincture if need be). This is one of my favorite ways of using Larrea, making a very strong tea and then soaking an infected body part such as a foot or forearm. I think it is one of the most effective ways of using this plant. To prepare this, just make a very strong tea of the plant and soak the body part in hot, but not painfully hot water. The heat helps by keeping the local pores open allowing better infiltration of the plant constituents. Keep in mind that the water may have infectious material in it so make sure the vessel is washed well and the water disposed of properly.
> 12.2% Protein > 3.1% Fat > 21.6% Fiber
> 3.8% Ash > 27.2% Carbohydrate > .37% Calcium
> .62% Phosphorus > .49% Potassium > .12% Sodium
> .08% Chlorine > .11% Magnesium > .0007% Iron
> 12. mg/lb Manganese > 2. mg/lb Copper > .81% Resins
>6.8% NDGA > .37% Volatile oils
Pregnancy and breast-feeding while using Chaparral is UNSAFE. It can cause serious liver and kidney problems. Don’t use products containing chaparral. Liver disease: Chaparral might make liver disease worse.
CHAPARRAL (Larrea Tridentata) Leaf C/s
These ingredients have been tested and carefully selected by a certified herbalist.
All tonics, loose teas, herbal leaves, and powders should be refrigerated after seal is broken for longest potency and freshness of herbs. Herbal compounds such as tinctures and capsules doesn’t need to be refrigerated and should be stored in a cool, dark place out of direct light. These methods will guarantee the longest potency and freshness. All herbal compounds will have expiration dates on the item packages effective immediately. If Stored correctly these herbal compounds will last far longer than the recommended expiration date.