Chaparral (Larrea tridentata) is native to the Mexico and the Southwestern region of the United States. Chaparral, also known as Greasewood, Stinkweed, Creosote Bush, Little Stinker, Chaparro, and Goberrnadora, is a flowering plant in the Zygophyllaceae family. Chaparral is an evergreen bush growing from 3.3 to 9.8 feet tall (even 13 feet in some instances). The stems of the Chaparral plant carry resinous, dark green leaves with two opposite lanceolate leaflets linked at the base with a deciduous awn between them. The Chaparral flowers have five yellow petals. The whole plant reveals a typical odor of creosote, from which the common name comes.
The name Chaparral comes from the Spanish word “chaparro”, used to scrub oaks. In Mexico, Chaparral leaf is branded as “gobernadora”, Spanish for “governess,” due to its ability to acquire more water by obstructing the growth of nearby plants. In Sonora, Chaparral leaf is usually called “hediondilla.” The species Larrea tridentata, is named after a Spanish clergyman, Juan Antonio Hernandez de Larrea. Chaparral leaf was utilized by Native Americans in the Southwest as a remedy for many illnesses, including dysmenorrhea, sexually transmitted diseases, chicken pox, tuberculosis, and snakebite. The shrub is still broadly used as a medicine in Mexico. Chaparral leaf was also used to deal with rheumatism, wounds, arthritis, skin sores, colds, urinary infections, and tuberculosis.
Chaparral, despite the unpleasant taste and smell is used as a mouthwash. It can kill the bacteria that causes tooth decay. The chaparral leaf resin is used as a remedy for burns. The herb was topically used to treat bruises and ease skin rashes as well as helping to cure wounds and avoid infection. It is particularly helpful for sufferers of psoriasis and eczema. A concoction of the chaparral leaf can be used to treat and stop dandruff.
The plant is advertised to have expectorant, analgesic, as well as strong anti-inflammatory properties. Chaparral leaf is also used as anti-arthritic, alterative, analgesic, anticancer, antiscrofulous, anti-tumor, anti-venomous, tonic, aromatic, depurative, astringent, bitter, diuretic, emetic (large doses), laxative (mild), and vasopressor (mild). The plant is believed to have high antioxidant content, which can shield one against the cell damage which leads to cancer. Some research on laboratory rats advocates that chaparral does prevent the growth of tumors, while the cured animals also survived considerably longer than the ones in the control group.
Pharmacology manuals maintain that chaparral has Nordihydroguaiaretic acid, a chemical listed as an antioxidant in the highly regarded medical book, Merck Manual.
Chaparral is available in various forms, but most popular is dried leaves. The dried herb can be used to create chaparral infusion or tea. Today, chaparral became a part of several famous herbal formulas, such as the Dr. Richard Schulze’s Detox Formula, Hoxey Formula, as well as Jason Winter’s Tea.