Larrea mexicana, L. tridentata

Chaparral leaf is a perennial native of the southwestern United States, and south into Mexico. It is also called the creosote bush, due to the unique smell produced by the plant when rain comes. Chaparral actually originated in Argentina several thousand years ago.

If you’ve ever seen the black sticky resin on railroad ties, you’ve seen the product of chaparral, also known as creosote bush.

Chaparral is very strong tasting, and many people find it rather unpleasant to consume.

Currently, chaparral is banned in the United States. Authorities claim it has toxic effects on the liver. However, the herb continues to be used by many people in many countries, on its own or as part of herbal formulas. A woman who had taken chaparral supplements suffered liver damage, but she was also consuming large amounts of prescription drugs. Of course, the blame was placed on the chaparral herb, with no mention of the drugs made at all.

Chaparral as an Herb for Medicinal Uses

ChaparralChaparral is used to treat acne, dandruff, cancer, arthritis, viral, yeast, and bacterial infections. It is normally mixed with other herbs with similar properties, or taken as capsules, as it is very bitter.

Native Americans use chaparral to curb the craving for alcohol, and to detoxify the liver.

Chaparral contains lignans that are very similar to estrogen, giving it an effect on the skin similar to that of soy taken internally.

Applied to the skin, chaparral can have a remarkable healing effect on eczema, herpes, cold sores, psoriasis, and contact dermatitis. Its long term use is not recommended.

Chaparral leaf and the twigs of the plant are used to make chaparral tea, an old Indian remedy.

Chaparral is used as a mouthwash, despite the unpleasant taste and aroma. It can destroy the bacteria that leads to tooth decay.

It is used as a douche for trichamonas.


The herb is available in several forms, but the most popular form is the dried herb. The dried herb can be used to make chaparral tea or infusion. When making the tea, it is often recommended to add honey and/or lemon in order to enhance the flavor.

Culinary Uses of Chaparral

Internal use is not recommended.


  • Should not be used by pregnant or lactating women.
  • Excessive use may result in stomach upset.
  • The strength of the herb makes it unsuitable for very young children.
  • It is not recommended for those with kidney problems, as prolonged use and high dosages could have a negative effect.

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