Larrea divaricata, L. tridentata
Also called Greasewood, Creosote Bush. Chaparral is a small to large desert bush up to 8 feet high. The leaves are dark green, leathery, and about a quarter inch long. They look like a small circle that has been cut in half. The flowers are yellow, about a half inch in diameter, with five petals resembling little turbine wheels. The seeds look like little white fuzzy balls an eighth inch in diameter.
This is an awesome healing plant. It has been claimed to be the oldest living plant in the United States, as much as ten thousand years old. It defends itself well against bugs and fungus, as well as the extreme elements of its desert home.
Chaparral has been at the top of the list of my favorite herbs for about forty years now. For internal use, I make a tea or tincture of the leaves and small twigs. (Often, blossoms or seed pods find their way into the dried herb. This is fine.) For most people, one teaspoon of the dried leaves per quart of hot water would be plenty strong. Chaparral tea has a very strong medicinal flavor, which can be much more enjoyable if we add some sweetness with stevia or honey. I find this tea to be quite harmless, and I sometimes drink as much as a gallon a day.
Taken hot, Chaparral tea is an excellent remedy for whatever type of flu or virus is going around, as well as for colds. In general, Chaparral has wonderful antioxidant and anti-aging qualities. It is among the best herbs for strengthening our immune system and is effective against all sorts of infectious conditions and fevers. Its antioxidant qualities protect us from free radicals and cancers. It serves as a good blood detoxifier. It is often a good remedy for prostate gland and kidney infections.
Chaparral is also very helpful in cases of asthma. Drink the hot tea and also inhale the aroma of the herb steeping. When combined 1 part Chaparral to 4 parts Walnut bark, it has brought quick and awesome relief from asthma.
In addition to its internal uses, Chaparral can be applied externally for snake bites, spider bites, and scorpion stings.
For skin infections, Chaparral leaf should be applied externally as a hot fomentation or as a bandage saturated with the tincture, as well as taken internally as a tea. I once treated a man with a skin infection on his legs. They were covered with open, ulcerated sores. We kept them soaked in strong, hot Chaparral tea for an hour at a time, several times a day for two days, and they healed up very nicely.
Chaparral also has the ability to preserve oils to keep them from going rancid. Any herbal salve will last longer when Chaparral is included.
One caution about Chaparral is that it seems to be harmful if taken for liver infection, like hepatitis, or with a liver disorder. Always monitor the results of any herbal remedy. If you get a negative result, choose a different herb. The same goes for soda pop, and any beverage, food, or prescription drug.
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