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  Chaparral prevents Cancer
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Background: Chaparral is a shrub found in the desert regions of southwestern United States and Mexico. It was used by Native American populations for indications including chicken pox (varicella), colds, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, pain, rheumatic diseases, skin disorders, snake bites and as an emetic. Chaparral tea was also used for purported effects of removing lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) residue and thereby preventing recurrent hallucinations. Chaparral leaves have also been used externally for bruises, scratches, wounds and hair growth.




Chaparral and one of its components called nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA) have antioxidant ("free-radical scavenging") properties and have been proposed as cancer treatments. However, chaparral and NDGA have been linked with cases of kidney and liver failure, liver cirrhosis, kidney cysts and kidney cancer in humans. I


*Key to grades: A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).

Abdominal cramps, abortion inducing, abrasions, acne, actinic keratosis (a skin condition), alcohol withdrawal, allergies, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiparasitic, antiseptic, antiviral, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, blood purifier, bowel cramps, breathing problems, bronchitis, bruises, burns, bursitis, cavities (preventive mouthwash), chicken pox, central nervous system disorders, cold sores, colds, coughs, cytomegalovirus, dandruff, decomposition, diabetes, diarrhea, diuretic (increasing urine flow), dysentery, enteritis, Epstein-Barr virus, fertility, flu, food additive, gas, gastrointestinal disorders, genitourinary infections, hair tonic, hallucinations (including due to LSD ingestion), heartburn, herpes simplex virus (cold sores), herpes zoster virus, immune function stimulation, immune system disorders, impetigo, indigestion, intestinal problems, Kaposi's sarcoma, kidney or bladder stones, leukemia, liver cleanser, liver metabolic function, melanoma, menstrual cramps, menstrual disorders, multidrug resistance (trastuzumab), neuritis, nutritional supplement, pain, painful joints, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), preservative, psoriasis, respiratory tract infections, rheumatic diseases, sciatica, skin disorders, skin infections, snakebite pain, stomach ulcer, tuberculosis, urinary tract infections, venereal disease, vomiting, wound healing (poultice).


The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)
Safety has not been established for any dose. Small doses of tea have been used; for example, one teaspoon of chaparral leaves and flowers steeped in one pint of water for 15 minutes, consumed at one to three cups daily for up to a maximum of several days. Chaparral tea has also been made by steeping seven to eight grams of crumbled dried leaves, stems and twigs in one quart of hot water. As a water extract, chaparral might be consumed in the amount of one to three cups of chaparral tea per day for a period of two to three weeks, although this is not recommended. A tincture has also been used; for example, 20 drops up to three times daily. These preparations may be associated with less toxicity, and possibly contain fewer allergenic compounds than capsules or tablets. Oil or powder forms of chaparral have also been used, applied to an affected area of skin several times daily. Capsules or tablets may deliver large doses leading to toxicity, and are not recommended. Exposure to lignans, which may yield toxicity, appears to be greater from capsules or tablets than from chaparral tea.

Children (younger than 18 years)
Chaparral is not recommended for use in children, due to lack of scientific data and potential toxicity


AllergiesCaution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia and in those taking drugs, herbs or supplements that affect blood sugar. Serum glucose levels should be monitored closely and medication adjustments may be necessary. Aggravation of hypothyroidism may occur.In theory, chaparral may also increase the risk of bleeding and may add to the effects of anticoagulants (blood thinners) or antiplatelet drugs. Use of chaparral with any of these drugs should be discussed with a healthcare professional.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Chaparral cannot be recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding because of the risk of birth defects or spontaneous abortion. Chaparral may inhibit ovulation and decrease the chance that women will become pregnant.


Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Based on animal study, chaparral may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or injection should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional. Medication adjustments may be necessary. Based on human research, chaparral may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that also increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).

Effects of thyroid active agents may be altered although this is unproven