Chaparral - Some Benefits on Usage of Chaparral
Common Trade Names
Available as capsules, tablets, and teas.
Active components are extracted from the leaves of Larrea tridentata or Larrea divaricata, desert -dwelling evergreen shrubs that are native to the southwestern United States and Mexico.
Phenolic compounds isolated from L. tridentata include nordihyroguaiaretic acid (NDGA) and the related lignans, nor-isoguaiasin, dihydroguaiaretic acid, partially demethylated dihydroguaiartic acid, and 3'-demethoxyisoguaiasin. Younger plants yield more phenolic compounds than older plants.
The biological activity of chaparral is attributed to NDGA, a lipoxygenase inhibitor that was previously used as a food additive to prevent fermentation and decomposition. Despite studies showing NDGA to have an anticancer effect in vitro, earlier research by the National Cancer Institute found no such effect in vivo . Some reports suggest that NDGA may stimulate certain cancers, such as renal cell carcinoma.
NDGA has been shown to inhibit proviral expression and thus may be able to interrupt the life cycle of the causative organism in HIV infections .
Results from an in vitro study of rat hippocampal neurons suggest that NDGA may playa neuroprotective role in Alzheimer's disease .
Chaparral tea is derived from the plant leaves. It was widely used by Native Americans as a remedy for bronchitis, colds, pain, and skin disorders. Human clinical trials are lacking to support the claim of anticancer properties.
No consensus exists.
Contraindications And Precautions
Chaparral is contraindicated because of numerous reports of serious hepatotoxicity.
Points of Interest
Chaparral is considered an unsafe herb and was removed by the FDA from its generally recognized as safe list in 1970.
Anecdotal reports indicate that chaparral tea was used as an anticancer agent from the late 1950s to the 1970s.
In vitro studies have yielded conflicting results for the use of NDGA, an active component of chaparral, in treating AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, and cancer. Further in vivo and human clinical studies are needed. Because of its strong association with hepatotoxicity, use of this herb is not recommended.
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