Medicine Woman

  (Waynesville, North Carolina)
dangerous herbs, medicinal herbs, culinary herbs
[ Member listing ]

Chaparral herb can cause liver and kidney damage


The herb  Chaparral refers to three herb species: Larrea tridentata, Larrea divaricata and Larrea mexicana, a/k/a  creosote bush, greasewood, or hediondilla  

Scientific/medical name(s): Larrea divaricata coville, Larrea tridentata (DC) coville


The Chaparral shrub grows in the Western United States and parts of Mexico and is used traditionally by the indigenous people of these regions to treat such conditions as rheumatism, arthritis, stomach pain, cancer, tuberculosis, bowel cramps, venereal disease,  HIV, colds and bronchitis.  


Proponents claim that Chaparral can help relieve pain, reduce inflammation, aid congestion, increase urine elimination, and slow the aging process. It is also promoted as an anti-cancer agent and an antioxidant (a compound that blocks the action of free radicals, activated oxygen molecules that can damage cells). Some promoters call it a “cleanser” or detox herb. A bitter and unpleasant-tasting tea or a tincture, Chaparral is also sometimes used with other herbs in “anti-cancer tea”.


Chaparral tea was used widely in the United States from the late 1950s to the 1970s as an alternative anti-cancer agent. Experimental studies in the 1960s showed that Chaparral could cause problems with kidney and liver function.


The FDA has recommended since 1968 that Chaparral  not be swallowed or taken internally by any other route. Chaparral can be highly toxic and has been reported to cause severe and permanent liver disease that can be fatal.


The growth of interest in alternative medicine led to increased use of Chaparral in the 1980s. By the early 1990s, there had been many reports of Chaparral-linked illnesses, and the FDA issued a warning. This resulted in sellers voluntarily removing many Chaparral products from stores. Despite many concerns and warnings, Chaparral has become available again, and is advertised and sold from Internet sites, but, not mine!


Since February 2006 - Health Canada has  warned consumers not to ingest the herb Chaparral in the form of loose leaves, teas, capsules or bulk herbal products because of the risk of liver and kidney problems.


Nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA), the principal ingredient in Chaparral is a potent antioxidant.  At one time it was thought to be potentially useful in the treatment of cancer. However, studies were done on rats, not humans.  NDGA possesses considerable toxicity. 


Chaparral is considered a dangerous herb that can cause irreversible, life-threatening liver damage and kidney damage, including cysts in the kidney and kidney failure. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cautioned against the internal use of Chaparral  

I personally would even caution against using Chaparral as a topical, since herbs go right into the body even quicker through the skin than even ingesting.

Chaparral very toxic and can cause serious and permanent kidney and liver damage and possibly death. It can also cause:

  •  Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  •  Weight loss
  •  Fever
  •  Skin rash and itching
  • Tiredness
  • Acute inflammation of the liver (hepatitis)
  •  Kidney cysts
  •  Kidney cancer

 Chaparral contains compounds that can both increase the risk of sunburn and cause skin irritation to parts of the body not exposed to the sun.

The herb has also been associated with severe hepatotoxicity, with some cases requiring liver transplantation.


Chaparral    may cause dangerous interactions and interfere with how some drugs work, especially those that may also affect your liver and kidneys.  Blood-thinning medications (anticoagulants);   diabetic drugs;    some antibiotics, and non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (for example, pain medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and others). Chaparral can also interfere with a type of antidepressant called a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI).


It is important that we test each active ingredient in the plant. When you take a complete plant as a medicine, it can be a bit ‘hit or miss’ because you take hundreds of different chemicals together. Any of these could affect you, the cancer, or other medicines you are taking.


Be very cautious about purchasing from herbalists who use this herb in their formulas. It is NOT  ok to use. 


This herb  is supported by traditional use   only. There is minimal or no scientific evidence proving its effectiveness.


 You can find excellant quality and very  safe herbs, herb teas, bath herbs and salves in my store here on LOCACL HARVEST. 

Local .  Look for








Group Health


The Complete Guide to Herbal Medicines  by Charles W. Fetrow and Juan R. Avila


An Illustrated Guide  101 Medicinal Herbs by  Steven Foster


Natural Health Magazine The Complete Guide to Safe Herbs   by Chris D. Meletis   N.D.

The Complete Book of Natural AND Medicinal Cures  Prevention Magazine

The Honest Herbal  by Varro E. Tyler

CASCARA SAGRADA (Rhamnus Pursbiana) a/k/a sacred bark

   The native Americans used this for hundreds of years as a laxative.

Cascara Sagrada was accepted in medical

practice in the United States in 1877.


The bark should be dried for at least one year

before using.  Fresh cut, causes vomiting and

violent diarrhea


However, in 2002 The FDA has issued a ban in

the use of Cascara Sagrada as a laxative

ingredient in over the counter drug products. Use

of Cascara Sagrada has been associated with

abdominal pain and diarrhea; it is potentially




Cascara Sagrada has also been associated with

the development of chronic hepatitis. Short term

use may cause a terrific gripping effect on the

intestinal system, intestinal distress, including

inflammation of the colon, nausea and vomiting

and chronic or dangerously severe diarrhea.

Nursing mothers  who use this will pass the          

laxative effect to their infants. The strain on the

intestines and forced diarrhea could kill the infant.

Pregnant women can go into labor using Cascara



Long term use can lead to disorders of heart and

muscle function.


Cascara Sagrada acts unfavorably with

prescription medications.



You can find excellant quality and safe herbs, herb teas, bath herbs and salves in my store here on  LOCAL HARVEST  

Local .  Look for





Natural Health Magazine  The Complete Guide to Safe Herbs    by Chris D Meletis


The Complete Guide to Herbal Medicines  by Charles W. Fetrow  and Juan R. Avila

















Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)

BLACK COHOSH   (Cimicifuga racemosa)

 also known as black snakeroot, rattleweed, rattleroot, bugbane, bugwort, squaw root


 Do not confuse black cohosh with blue cohosh or white cohosh. These are unrelated plants. The blue and white cohosh plants do not have the same effects as black cohosh, and may not be safe.


Black Cohosh is an American herb, introduced into medical practice in America in 1828 and used briefly in Europe around 1860.  Only recently has Black Cohosh been given attention once again as an herb for menopausal symptoms.


 Black cohosh was used by Native Americans as a traditional folk remedy for women’s' health conditions, such as menstrual cramps and hot flashes, as well as  arthritis, muscle pain, sore throat, cough and indigestion. The juice of the plant was used as an insect repellent and was made into a salve and applied to snake bite.


 Black cohosh was also one of the principal ingredients in Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound.


 Today, black cohosh is used primarily as a nutritional supplement for hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, vaginal dryness and other symptoms that can occur during menopause, as well as for menstrual cramps and bloating.


Side effects of black cohosh may include:  indigestion, headache, nausea, vomiting, and heaviness in the legs, weight gain, low blood pressure, seizures, visual disturbances and slow or irregular heartbeat. There have also been a number of cases of liver damage suspected to be associated with black cohosh.


People with a history of blood clots or stroke, seizures, liver disease and those who are taking medications for high blood pressure should not use black cohosh.   And because it may act like the hormone estrogen in the body, black cohosh could interfere with hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives.


Black cohosh may interfere with the effectiveness of the chemotherapy drug CISPLATIN. Also, combining black cohosh with the drug ESTRADIOL,(Alora, Combipatc, Estrace,, Estraderm, Fem Patch, Vivelle, ) could raise the body's estrogen level too high.


You should not use black cohosh if you have a hormone-sensitive condition, such as breast cancer, endometriosis, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, or fibroid tumors or,  if you have liver damage or drink alcohol in excessive quantities. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid black cohosh as the herb may stimulate contractions and lead to premature labor or miscarriage.


 It is suggested that you not use black cohosh for longer than 6 months


  In August 2006, Health Canada advised consumers of the possible link between black cohosh and liver damage. In June 2007, the United States Pharmacopeia proposed that black cohosh product labels contain a cautionary statement



You can find excellant quality and very  safe herbs, herb teas, bath herbs and salves in my store here  on LOCAL HARVEST ! Local .  Look for SPICES &   HERBS BY ELAYNN    



The Complete Guide to Herbal Medicine  by Charles W. Fetrow and Juan R. Avila


The Honest Herbal  by Varro E Tyler


Natural Health Magazine Complete Guide to Safe Herbs  by  Chris D. Meletis


101  Medicinal Herbs  by Steven Foster








































RSS feed for Medicine Woman blog. Right-click, copy link and paste into your newsfeed reader