There was a time when people believed that taking chaparral was useful for treating venereal infections, rheumatic diseases, infections of the urinary tract and specific forms of cancer, particularly leukemia. In addition, people also took chaparral internally to cure skin complaints, for instance, eczema and acne, and also applied it externally to wounds, sores and rashes. However, of later, the sale of chaparral was prohibited in the United States owing to apprehensions over the potential toxic impact of the herb on the liver. The Native Americans inhabiting the south-west used chaparral for treating several ailments, counting tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases (STD), and snakebite, dysmenorrhea as well as chicken pox. Even to this day people in Mexico extensively use this shrub for remedial purposes. In addition to the above mentioned uses, chaparral is also useful for treating several other health conditions, including fever, colds, influenza, and stomach upsets, arthritis, anemia, gas, gout, sinusitis as well as fungal infections. This shrub also possesses anti-microbial attributes, which make chaparral an effective first aid. Chaparral is also useful in treating allergies, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and autoimmunity diseases. It also works in the form of a pain killer (analgesic), emetic and diuretic agent. To use chaparral in the form of a tea, it is important to collect the leaves and small branches of the shrub, rinse them meticulously and then dry them in the sun. Subsequently, these dried up parts of the shrub should be pulverized into a powder form and kept in any glass container, as it yields specific oils beneficial for our health. Chaparral may be applied to the skin in the form of a tincture or a balm and also used internally in the form of a capsule or tea. While chaparral serves various different therapeutic purposes, to some people using this herb as a medicine is still controversial. Findings of one study suggest that the chemical constituents present in chaparral may slow down the growth of cancer cells, while other researches have just shown contradictory results. There is a different reason for the controversy regarding the use of chaparral as a medicine and it is the shrub's possible toxic impact on the liver. Besides therapeutic uses, the chaparral is also employed in the form of food for livestock, firewood as well as roofing material for earthen houses. This shrub may also be employed to avert rotting of vegetable oils, in the form of a sunscreen and/ or as massage oil. Chaparral may also be used to disinfect dwellings, in the form of an insecticide, a fuel and also a fish poison.
One can find chaparral growing in large numbers in the desert regions of south-west United States and Mexico. Chaparral is generally propagated by its seeds. In order to propagate this dense thicket of shrubs, you need to put many seed capsules in boiling water in a low pan cover. Allow the seed capsules to steep during the night and subsequently sow a few of them in a pot along with soil and begin watering. Disperse the surplus seedlings and young plants for proper growth.
Chemical analysis of chaparral has revealed that it encloses approximately 12 per cent resin and nordihydroguaiaretic acid. This acid is purportedly detrimental for the lymph glands as well as the kidneys. Apart from these elements, chaparral also encloses 18 recognized flavonol aglycones and flavones, larreic acid, and quercetin bioflavonoids.
For therapeutic purpose chaparral is taken in the form of a tea. The normal dosage is taking two to three cups (250 ml to 750 ml) of the tea every day. This tea or infusion is prepared by adding 7 grams to 8 grams of the dried up leaves and stems to every litre (quart) of hot water.
People already taking this herb or planning to use it for therapeutic reasons should be aware of its side effects and also take the necessary precautions. The oral chaparral products should not be taken by women during pregnancy, nursing mothers and children below the age of 12 years, since there is a lack of sufficient research and clinical trials in this regard. In addition, it is essential for people taking non-prescription or over the counter drugs regularly to confer with their physician before taking chaparral in the form of a dietary supplement. In fact, this is necessary in the case of all dietary supplements. Moreover, people who have ever endured any liver complaints should necessarily consult with their family physician before taking products based on chaparral as a dietary supplement.