Chaparral and Its Benefits, Side-Effects, Dosage, and Interactions

It is undisputed that Chaparral has been used for so many years by Native Americans as herbal medicine. These plants are seen in the Southern United States, Southern Africa, the coastline of Mediterranean, and western area of Australia. The leaves of nearly all chaparral plants are large and hard which hold water and these plants can easily adjust to dry and hot weather condition. In reality, chaparral is an area where bushes, shrubs, and small trees grow or in short ‘shrubland’.

These plants are scientifically known as Larrea tridentata and Larrea divaricata and the leaves (some include the twigs) of this plant are being used to treat many ailments. One of the main components is nordihydroguaiaretic acid or NDGA that many give credit to because of its antioxidant properties and also believed to be an anti-cancer agent. Though chaparral is considered a medicine, some question it because of the numerous possible fatal side effects it can cause.

This ancient plant is still widely sold in the market in many forms, like teas, capsules, creams, and ointments to name a few despite the several side effects it can cause to the body.  Users should be careful because FDA has been warning about the adverse effects it can cause to the body.

Chaparral Health Benefits

Chaparral is considered an ancient plant and used for a long time by many people. Many people who have been using this plant claim that it can help in many health conditions. WebMD has listed the following:

  1. Digestion problems that include gas and cramps.
  2. Problems in the respiratory tract that includes inflammation and colds
  3. Continuing Chronic skin problems
  4. Arthritis
  5. Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD)
  6. Tuberculosis (TB)
  7. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
  8. Obesity
  9. Central Nervous System problems
  10. Chickenpox and Shingles
  11. Parasite infections
  12. Snakebite pain
  13. Weight Loss
  14. Fever
  15. Toothache
  16. Bowel Problems
  17. Tissue engineering. Some scientists consider the substance NDGA, that is found in chaparral as a possible stabilizer in other matters used in restoring tendons after they are ruptured, but, or torn. Researches reveal that NDGA may be more productive than other substances being tested.

This seems to work also against cancer by blocking the cancer cells in spreading. NDGA may help in the treatment of cancers like breast, lung, prostate, skin, and esophageal cancer. The substance appears to weaken the progress of tumors and obstruct the abnormal cells by stopping them from eating the sugar in the blood that they need for survival thus eventually causing the abnormal cells to starve and die. When a patient is undergoing chemotherapy, the NDGA can shelter healthy cells against the adverse effect of the treatment.

Chaparral is also thought to be a natural purifier of the blood. By using the plant as a tea, the herb can help cleanse the blood which is why it is added in some blood supplements.

It is also used as an antioxidant and many supplements in the market include chaparral because of the belief that it slows down aging caused by the foods we eat everyday.

With the presence of the substance called nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA), it is believed that has the ability to suppress and obstruct viruses like HIV-1 (human immunodeficiency virus), HPV (human papilloma virus), herpes viruses, and flu virus. With this quality, chaparral is considered an immune system booster.

Aside from being an antioxidant, chaparral can also help people who have neurological disorders. Free radicals can cause oxidative stress and the NDGA can remove this. It is this basis why researchers study the substance (NDGA) as a possible remedy for neurological illness. According to research, it may also shield brain cells from several types of harm. NDGA has been recommended as a probable cure for the following brain problems.

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Stroke
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease

The study of how effective and safe chaparral is in treating the above-mentioned diseases and problems are still in progress thus one must be vigilant and careful as it can cause an adverse result. Always consult or talk to a doctor before using chaparral to make sure about your safety.

The Side Effects

Although chaparral has been used for a long time, it is still surrounded by many controversies about its effectivity and safety. This is to the fact that the FDA has listed death occurrence and other serious cases like hepatitis and additional liver issues among users.

Other side effects listed or experienced by users are the following:

  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Kidney Damage
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea

Note also that chaparral can cause an adverse reaction when applied on the skin. It can cause rashes and itching. As for pregnant and breastfeeding women, the use of chaparral or any product that contain chaparral is strictly prohibited because of the serious problems it can cause to the body.

Chaparral Interactions

Because of the possibility that chaparral will cause a liver problem, taking it with medicines that can also damage the liver can give a higher chance of liver damage.

The lists of medicines that can harm the liver are not to be used together with chaparral are:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol and others)
  • Amiodarone (Cordarone)
  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
  • Isoniazid (INH)
  • Methotrexate (Rheumatrex)
  • Methyldopa (Aldomet)
  • Fluconazole (Diflucan)
  • Itraconazole (Sporanox)
  • Erythromycin (Erythrocin, Ilosone, and others)
  • Lovastatin (Mevacor)
  • Phenytoin (Dilantin)
  • Pravastatin (Pravachol)
  • Simvastatin (Zocor); and
  • Many more

Always stay on the safe side. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or queries regarding your medication and the use of chaparral.

Proper Dosage for Chaparral

The correct usage of chaparral should be based on the user’s health, age, and other conditions. Since the use of chaparral is still an ongoing study, right or appropriate dose in taking chaparral cannot be determined yet.

The use of any herbal medicine should be always discussed to your doctor or medical professional to make sure of your safety. Chaparral is considered good in treating other diseases but it can also create more serious problems and can even cause death. In order to not regret and make sure of one’s safety, doctor’s words are advised.