Creosote Bush, Créosotier, Greasewood, Hediondilla, Jarilla, Larrea divaricata, Larrea tridentata, Larreastat, Larrea mexicana, Zygophyllum tridentatum.


Overview Information

Chaparral is a plant. The chaparral leaf is used to make medicine, but there are serious safety concerns with its use. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada have advised consumers against using products containing chaparral due to these safety concerns.

Despite serious safety concerns, people use chaparral for digestion problems, respiratory tract conditions, skin disorders, arthritis, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

How does it work?

A chemical in chaparral is thought to kill cancer cells, as well as some fungus and viruses. But this same chemical might also damage the liver and kidney.


Uses & Effectiveness?

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Arthritis.
  • Cancer.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Tuberculosis.
  • Colds.
  • Skin conditions.
  • Stomach problems (cramps, gas).
  • Weight loss.
  • Urinary and respiratory infections.
  • Chickenpox.
  • Wounds.
  • Skin infections.
  • Hair growth.
  • Skin cancer.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of chaparral for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

When taken by mouth: Chaparral is LIKELY UNSAFE. There are several reports of serious poisoning, acute hepatitis, and kidney and liver damage, including kidney and liver failure, in people who have taken chaparral. Chaparral can also cause side effects including stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, weight loss, and fever.

When applied to the skin: There isn't enough reliable information to know if chaparral is safe. It might cause side effects such as rash and itching in some people.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

It's LIKELY UNSAFE for anyone to take chaparral by mouth. But chaparral is especially dangerous for people with the following conditions:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Chaparral is LIKELY UNSAFE. It can cause serious liver and kidney problems. Don't use products containing chaparral when pregnant or breast-feeding.

Liver disease: Chaparral might make liver disease worse. Don't use it.



Major Interaction

Do not take this combination

  • Medications that can harm the liver (Hepatotoxic drugs) interacts with CHAPARRAL

    Chaparral might harm the liver. Taking chaparral along with medication that might also harm the liver can increase the risk of liver damage. Do not take chaparral if you are taking a medication that can harm the liver.
    Some medications that can harm the liver include acetaminophen (Tylenol and others), amiodarone (Cordarone), carbamazepine (Tegretol), isoniazid (INH), methotrexate (Rheumatrex), methyldopa (Aldomet), fluconazole (Diflucan), itraconazole (Sporanox), erythromycin (Erythrocin, Ilosone, others), phenytoin (Dilantin), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), simvastatin (Zocor), and many others.



The appropriate dose of chaparral depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for chaparral. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

View References


  • Kauma, H., Koskela, R., Makisalo, H., Autio-Harmainen, H., Lehtola, J., and Hockerstedt, K. Toxic acute hepatitis and hepatic fibrosis after consumption of chaparral tablets. Scand.J Gastroenterol. 2004;39(11):1168-1171. View abstract.
  • Konno, C, Martin, A, Ma, B-X, Lu, Z-Z, Xue, H-Z, Erdelmeier, CAJ, Nuzzo, NA, Soejarta, DD, Cordell, GA, Waller, DP, and Fong, HHS. Search for fertility regulating agents from Larrea tridentata. Proceedings: The First Princess Chulabhorn Science Congress 1987, International Congress on Natural Products 1987;2:328-337.
  • Leonforte, J. F. Contact dermatitis from Larrea (creosote bush). J Am Acad.Dermatol. 1986;14(2 Pt 1):202-207. View abstract.
  • Obermeyer, W. R., Musser, S. M., Betz, J. M., Casey, R. E., Pohland, A. E., and Page, S. W. Chemical studies of phytoestrogens and related compounds in dietary supplements: flax and chaparral. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 1995;208(1):6-12. View abstract.
  • Smart, C. R., Hogle, H. H., Robins, R. K., Broom, A. D., and Bartholomew, D. An interesting observation on nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NSC-4291; NDGA) and a patient with malignant melanoma--a preliminary report. Cancer Chemother.Rep. 1969;53(2):147-151. View abstract.
  • Smart, C. R., Hogle, H. H., Vogel, H., Broom, A. D., and Bartholomew, D. Clinical experience with nordihydroguaiaretic acid--"chaparrel tea" in the treatment of cancer. Rocky.Mt.Med J 1970;67(11):39-43. View abstract.
  • Uchide, N., Ohyama, K., Bessho, T., and Toyoda, H. Inhibition of influenza-virus-induced apoptosis in chorion cells of human fetal membranes by nordihydroguaiaretic Acid. Intervirology 2005;48(5):336-340. View abstract.
  • Anesini C, Ferraro G, Lopez P, Borda E. Different intracellular signals coupled to the antiproliferative action of aqueous crude extract from Larrea divaricata Cav. and nor-dihydroguaiaretic acid on a lymphoma cell line. Phytomedicine 2001;8:1-7.. View abstract.
  • Batchelor WB, Heathcote J, Wanless IR. Chaparral-induced hepatic injury. Am J Gastroenterol 1995;90:831-3. View abstract.
  • Chaparral-induced toxic hepatitis-California and Texas, 1992. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 1992;41:812-4.. View abstract.
  • Estes JD, Stolpman D, Olyaei A, et al. High prevalence of potentially hepatotoxic herbal supplement use in patients with fulminant hepatic failure. Arch Surg 2003;138:852-8.. View abstract.
  • Gnabre JN, Brady JN, Clanton DJ, et al. Inhibition of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 transcription and replication by DNA sequence-selective plant lignans. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1995;92:11239-43.. View abstract.
  • Gordon DW, Rosenthal G, Hart J, et al. Chaparral ingestion: the broadening spectrum of liver injury caused by herbal medications. JAMA 1995;273:489-90. View abstract.
  • Government of Canada. Archive - Health Canada warns consumers not to take products containing chaparral. Accessed September 27, 2019.
  • Heron S, Yarnell E. The safety of low-dose Larrea tridentata (DC) Coville (creosote bush or chaparral): a retrospective clinical study. J Altern Complement Med 2001;7:175-85.. View abstract.
  • Katz M, Saibil F. Herbal hepatitis: subacute hepatic necrosis secondary to chaparral leaf. J Clin Gastroenterol 1990;12:203-6. View abstract.
  • Klepser TB, Klepser ME. Unsafe and potentially safe herbal therapies. Am J Health Syst Pharm 1999;56:125-38. View abstract.
  • Lambert JD, Zhao D, Meyers RO, et al. Nordihydroguaiaretic acid: hepatotoxicity and detoxification in the mouse. Toxicon 2002;40:1701-8.. View abstract.
  • McDonald RW, Bunjobpon W, Liu T, et al. Synthesis and anticancer activity of nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA) and analogues. Anticancer Drug Des 2001;16:261-70.. View abstract.
  • Quiroga EN, Sampietro AR, Vattuone MA. Screening antifungal activities of selected medicinal plants. J Ethnopharmacol 2001;74:89-96.. View abstract.
  • Shasky DR. Contact dermatitis from Larrea tridentata (creosote bush). J Am Acad Dermatol 1986;15:302.. View abstract.
  • Sheikh NM, Philen RM, Love LA. Chaparral-associated hepatotoxicity. Arch Intern Med 1997;157:913-9. View abstract.
  • Smith AY, Feddersen RM, Gardner KD Jr, Davis CJ Jr. Cystic renal cell carcinoma and acquired renal cystic disease associated with consumption of chaparral tea: a case report. J Urol 1994;152:2089-91.. View abstract.
  • Smith BC, Desmond PV. Acute hepatitis induced by ingestion of the herbal medication chaparral. Aust N Z J Med 1993;23:526.. View abstract.
  • U.S. Food & Drug Administration. FDA Poisonous plant database. Accessed September 27, 2019.
  • Alderman, S., Kailas, S., Goldfarb, S., Singaram, C., and Malone, D. G. Cholestatic hepatitis after ingestion of chaparral leaf: confirmation by endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography and liver biopsy. J Clin.Gastroenterol. 1994;19(3):242-247. View abstract.
  • Birkenfeld, S., Zaltsman, Y. A., Krispin, M., Zakut, H., Zor, U., and Kohen, F. Antitumor effects of inhibitors of arachidonic acid cascade on experimentally induced intestinal tumors. Dis.Colon Rectum 1987;30(1):43-46. View abstract.
  • Clark, F. Chaparral-induced toxic hepatitis: California and Texas, 1992. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 1992;41:812-814.
  • Huang, J. K., Chen, W. C., Huang, C. J., Hsu, S. S., Chen, J. S., Cheng, H. H., Chang, H. T., Jiann, B. P., and Jan, C. R. Nordihydroguaiaretic acid-induced Ca2+ handling and cytotoxicity in human prostate cancer cells. Life Sci 9-24-2004;75(19):2341-2351. View abstract.

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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
© Therapeutic Research Faculty 2018.