Chaparral, is a tough plant with a long history of medicinal use by the native peoples of North America. Traditionally, it was taken internally to treat joint pain and to eliminate worms. Chaparral tea was applied externally to painful joints and minor wounds, and also used as a mouthwash and hair rinse. When European herbalists encountered chaparral, they initially used it to treat colds, flus, and intestinal infections. Later, based on a number of unsubstantiated cases, chaparral gained a reputation as a miracle cancer cure.
What Is Chaparral Used for Today?
There are no scientifically established medicinal uses of chaparral, and reports of liver injury have made it substantially less popular in recent years.
Other proposed actions of chaparral and its constituents lack more than the most minimal of scientific evidence. These include anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and liver-protective effects.
We do not recommend using chaparral internally.
For external use, chaparral may be prepared as a tea or allowed to diffuse its contents into oil over several days or weeks. The resulting preparation is then applied in the form of a wet or oil-soaked cloth.
Almost all reports involved chaparral tablets or extracts rather than the more traditional tea; however, the significance of this distinction is not clear. It is quite likely, though not proven, that liver or kidney toxicity chaparral is an “idiosyncratic reaction,” something in the nature of a rare allergy. However, until this situation is cleared up, internal use of chaparral must regarded as presenting unknown risks. Since chaparral has no established benefits as yet, it is probably best to simply avoid it.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 07/2012 -
- Update Date: 07/25/2012 -