Image for Chaparral ( (DC)Coville, Cav) & Nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA)
Chaparral (Larrea tridentata (DC)Coville, Larrea divaricata Cav) & Nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • 1 aryl tetralin lignans, chaparral taxa, chaparral tea, chaparro, creosote, creosote bush, dwarf evergreen oak, el gobernadora, falsa alcaparra, flavonoids, furanoid lignans, geroop, gobernadora, greasewood, guaiaretic acid, guamis, gumis, hediondilla, hideonodo, hydrocarbons, jarillo, kovanau, kreosotstrauch, Larrea, Larrea divaricata, Larrea glutiosa, Larrea mexicana, Larrea mexicana Moric, lignans, maltose-M3N, M4N, NDGA, nordihydroguaiaretic acid, Nordy, palo ondo (Spanish), sapogenins, shoegoi, sonora covillea, sterols, tasago, triterpenes, volatile oils, wax esters, ya-temp, yah-temp, Zygophyllaceae (family).

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Chaparral (Larrea tridentata) is one name for a particular herbaceous woody shrub that grows in the southwestern region of the United States and the northern region of Mexico. It is also called creosote bush or greasewood. Chaparral is an herbal preparation made from a desert shrub and used for its antioxidant properties (1). Since about 1969, these same plant components have been used as dietary supplements.
  • Chaparral and its constituent nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA) have been reported to possess antioxidant/free-radical scavenging properties. Although proposed as a treatment for cancer, effectiveness has not been demonstrated in clinical trials. Oral chaparral and NDGA have been associated with cases of hepatitis, cirrhosis, liver failure (1;2;3;4;5;6), renal cysts, renal cell carcinoma, and renal failure (5;7;8). In response to these reports, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed chaparral from its "Generally Recognized as Safe" (GRAS) list in 1970. Oral chaparral and NDGA are generally considered unsafe and are not recommended for use. Several reports of chaparral-associated hepatitis have been published since 1990, but a complete picture of the clinical presentation is still unclear (5).
  • Overt signs of toxicity associated with topical use of chaparral are lacking (6). NDGA has been used topically and masoprocol cream is currently approved for use in the United States. Topical preparations of chaparral have been made as lotions in oils to be used in the following conditions: minor wounds, skin infections (i.e., impetigo, chicken pox, genital herpes simplex), skin cancer, arthritis, and rheumatism (9). However, scientific evidence of its efficacy is currently lacking.
  • According to a survey conducted by the Herb Research Foundation from 1973-1993, at least 200 tons of chaparral was sold in the U.S. market (10). This would be equivalent to 500 million doses at 500mg per dose.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

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.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.