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General Description

Chaparral (also known as creosote bush or greasewood) is a perennial shrub abundant in the desert regions of Mexico and the southwest United States. Growing from 1 to 3 meters in height, chaparral has strong-scented, resinous leaves, consisting of two small olive-green leaflets. The plant flowers in spring and winter, bearing small, bright yellow blossoms. The fruit is a small spherical seed capsule covered with fine white hairs. The leaves of the plant are used for health purposes.

Health Applications

  • Antioxidant protection
  • Immune system support

Chemical Composition

Chaparral contains a number of phenolic components, including lignans and flavonoids. The principal ingredient is a lignan known as nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA), which is a powerful antioxidant.


Chaparral is usually prepared as a tea by steeping a teaspoon of dried leaves in a cup of hot water for ten to fifteen minutes. The tea is typically consumed three times per day. A number of cases have been reported in which chaparral consumption has resulted in damage to the liver, and even liver failure. Given this risk, and the lack of evidence of any therapeutic benefit for the plant in humans, some herbalists advise against the consumption of chaparral altogether.