Chaparral (Larrea tridentata)
Native to the southwestern United States, chaparral is a common desert shrub that has been used for centuries by Native Americans. It has antibiotic qualities and has been used historically to treat colds, flu and diarrhea. Animals will not graze on it due to its bitter taste. It can survive for long periods without rain and it does not burn well. The leaves are covered in a sticky resin that is useful in herbal medicine. It is considered to be somewhat dangerous and therefore it should not be used without the guidance of a skilled practitioner.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Chaparral is sometimes taken as a tea to fight cancer. During normal cancer treatment, the pancreas gets congested by medications and other toxinsand this herbal remedy helps clear the toxins out of the pancreas so the body can do its job to fight the tumor.
Externally Chaparral is applied as a lotion or cream to heal eczema, cold sores, herpes, psoriasis and dermatitis. Branches are cooked in oil, then strained. The oil is used to treat rheumatism in the limbs. Burning branches are dipped in water to make steam in sweat lodges for inhalation. When used as a mouthwash, it helps fight cavities. It can be added to liniments, salves and compresses for various skin problems and can be used as a bath herb or a hair rinse to get rid of dandruff. Historically, the leaves were heated and applied to the skin to treat bronchitis, coughs, skin problems, venereal disease, warts, ringworm and blemishes. Heated stems were put into cavities to relieve toothache.
Other Uses Chaparral is also known as the creosote bush. Creosote is used to treat wood products like railroad ties and fencing panels.
Herbs to Combine/Supplement
Chaparral can be combined with herbs like burdock, feverfew, cayenne, lavender, Oregon grape root and heal all to make a formula for detoxification.
Aerial parts The aerial portion of the plant is used medicinally.
Long term use of chaparral is not recommended as excessive use may cause upset stomach. If you have a kidney or liver disease, do not use this herb. If you experience nausea, fever, jaundice or fatigue, discontinue using. Do not use during pregnancy or lactation. Side effects can include rash itching, fever, weight loss, diarrhea, abdominal pain and fatigue. If you experience any of these, let your care provider know.
Preparation and Dosage
Chaparral is usually made into tincture that is later added to lotion or cream. It is also sometimes taken as a tea. It is not recommended to take it internally. External applications can be used as needed.