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


Chaparral is a shrub found in the desert regions of southwestern United States and Mexico. It was used by Native American populations for indications including chicken pox (varicella), colds, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, pain, rheumatic diseases, skin disorders, snake bites, and as an emetic. Chaparral tea was also used for purported effects of removing lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) residue and thereby preventing recurrent hallucinations. Chaparral leaves have also been used externally for bruises, scratches, wounds, and hair growth.
The chaparral component nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA) has been evaluated as a treatment for cancer but, due to risk of toxicity, it is considered unsafe and not recommended for use.

Related Terms

1 aryl tetralin lignans, chaparral taxa, chaparral tea, chaparro, creosote, creosote bush, dwarf evergreen oak, el gobernadora (Spanish), falsa alcaparra (Spanish), 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, Larrea tridentate, Larrea tridentata (DC) Coville, lignans, maltose-M3N, M4N, NDGA, nordihydroguaiaretic acid, Nordy, palo ondo (Spanish), sapogenins, shoegoi, sonora covillea, sterols, tasago, triterpenes, volatile oils, wax esters, ya-tmep, yah-temp, Zygophyllaceae (family).

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Cancer (Grade: C)
Chaparral and one of its components called nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA) have antioxidant ("free-radical scavenging") properties and have been proposed as cancer treatments. However, chaparral and NDGA have been linked with cases of kidney and liver failure, liver cirrhosis, kidney cysts, and kidney cancer in humans. 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. Chaparral and NDGA are generally considered unsafe and are not recommended for use.