Botanically known as Larrea Tridentata, Chaparrral is used to treat a variety of bowel, lung and skin conditions and studied for its impact on viral-based disorders.
One of the main active components of chaparral is NDGA (nordihydroguaiaretic acid), and chaparral also contains lignans that add to its healing properties as well. Chaparral’s extremely bitter taste prevents animals from grazing upon it and it does not burn easily. It is regarded as one of the most adaptable of all the United States desert plants as it grows in depleted soil and can survive for long periods of time without rainfall. It was one of the first plants to grow back after the 1962 nuclear bomb test at Yucca Flats. The Native Americans used chaparral to cure a variety of ailments from arthritis to the common cold and for its analgesic, expectorant, and anti-inflammatory properties.
NDGA is a powerful antioxidant that is believed to reduce cell damage by free radicals, which could be the reason for the plant’s exceptionally long life. Early studies have raised hopes that NDGA might prove to be an effective treatment for some forms of cancer when it was revealed that NDGA was able to inhibit the growth of some cancer cells in animals.
In the Merck Manual, a highly regarded medical book, this chemical is listed as an antioxidant, and its therapeutic category is an antineoplastic (inhibiting or preventing development of neoplasms; checking maturation and proliferation of malignant cells.). Scientists have also recorded an increased lifespan in lab mice given NDGA. “NDGA is a potent anti-tumor agent. NDGA inhibits aerobic and anaerobic glycolysis (the energy-producing ability) of cancer cells. The flavonoids present in chaparral have strong antiviral and antifungal properties.” Herbal Medicine, Healing and Cancer.