Herbs & Plants

Larrea tridentata

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Botanical Name: Larrea tridentata
Family: Zygophyllaceae
Genus: Larrea
Species: L. tridentata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Zygophyllales

Synonyms : L. divaricata. L. mexicana.

Common Name : Creosote Bush – Chaparral

Habitat : Larrea tridentata is a prominent species in the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan Deserts of western North America, and its range includes those and other regions in portions of
southeastern California, Arizona, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah, New Mexico and Texas in the United States, and northern Chihuahua and Sonora in Mexico. The species grows as far
east as Zapata County, Texas, along the Rio Grande southeast of Laredo near the 99th meridian west. It grows in desert areas.

Larrea tridentata is an evergreen shrub growing to 1 to 3 metres (3.3 to 9.8 ft) tall, rarely 4 metres (13 ft). The stems of the plant bear resinous, dark green leaves with two opposite lanceolate    leaflets joined at the base, with a deciduous awn between them, each leaflet 7 to 18 millimetres (0.28 to 0.71 in) long and 4 to 8.5 millimetres (0.16 to 0.33 in) broad. The flowers are up to 25     millimetres (0.98 in) in diameter, with five yellow petals. Galls may form by the activity of the creosote gall midge. The whole plant exhibits a characteristic odor of creosote, from which the   common name derives. In the regions where it grows its smell is often associated with the “smell of rain”.


As the creosote bush grows older, its oldest branches eventually die and its crown splits into separate crowns. This normally happens when the plant is 30 to 90 years old. Eventually the old
crown dies and the new one becomes a clonal colony from the previous plant, composed of many separate stem crowns all from the same seed.

Requires a moderately fertile moisture-retentive soil in full sun or light shade. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and –
10°c. The plant is resinous and aromatic.

Propagation :
Seed – we have no information for this species but suggest sowing the seed in a greenhouse in spring. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and
grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of new     growth in spring in a frame

Edible Uses: Condiment; Tea.

The flower buds are pickled in vinegar and used as a caper substitute. The stems and leaves are a tea substitute. The twigs are chewed to alleviate thirst. A resin is obtained from the leaves
and twigs, it delays or prevents oils and fats from becoming rancid.

Medicinal Uses:
Chaparal is used for treating such ailments as: tuberculosis, bowel complaints, stomach ulcers and bowel disorders, cancers, and colds and flu. It is found to be beneficial to the walls of
capillaries throughout the body, and so are good to take regularly in cases of capillary fragility. Chaparal contains N.D.G.A.. It is responsible for inhibiting several enzyme reactions, including
lipo oxyginase, which is responsible for some unhealthy inflammatory and immune-system responses. It has been shown to reduce inflammatory histamine responses in the lung, which is good    news for asthma sufferers. N.D.G.A. is one of the most highly anti-oxidant substances known to man. Several types of tumors, such as those in uterine fibroids and fibrosystic breast disease,   can be helped immensely by a concentrated extract of the plant. Chaparal can improve liver function, causing the liver metablolism to speed up, clearing toxins, and improving the livers’   ability to synthesize fatty acids into high density lipids (HDLs….the good quality cholesterol). The low density lipids levels (LDLs….the poor quality cholesterol) decrease. The strong anti-   oxident effects of Larrea t. appear to repair free radical damage caused by drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines.

External uses of the herb include poultices placed on aching joints, and the tea or a fomentation (applied several times per day and left on the area) for such things as ringworm, skin
fungi, and athletes’ foot. Has also been used for reducing fibroids A study in the Journal of Dental Research showed chaparral mouthwash reduced cavities by 75%.

Lipoxygenase and 5-hydroxyeicosatatraenois acid are usually high in the synovial fluid of arthritis sufferers which means Chapparal’s ability to inhibit these can help here as well.
Larrea contains active flavonoids and ligans that, in addition to being anti-oxidants, act as antifungals, antibiotics, and antivirals. It is in this last capacity, as an antiviral that prompted
investigations into its ability to inhibit the spl promoter HIV and as an inhibitor of Herpes simplex-1 in cell cultures; as well as Kaposi’s sarcoma virus. Clinical evaluations consisted of
testimonies from close to 36 persons. Larrea was prepared as an extract in an aloe-based lotion and was effective in reversing symptoms in nearly all cases of HSV-1 and shingles within 12-24
hours and in greatly reducing the severity of sores from Kaposi’s sarcoma in people in full-blown AIDS. The lotion proved to work faster and to be more effective than acyclovir, the main drug   for herpes.

When applied to the skin as a tea, tincture, or salve, Chaparral slows down the rate of bacterial grown and kills it with its antimicrobial activity. Chaparral will also help dry skin,
brittle hair and nails and cracks in the hands or feet.

Known Hazards : Acute hepatitis associated with oral use. Contact dermatitis also reported. Not considered safe as a herbal remedy

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with   your own health care provider.

Healthy Tips

Honey Works Better than Drugs for Herpes

Mainstream physicians usually prescribe Acyclovir ointment or other topical medications to treat herpes outbreaks. But new research shows that nature has a better solution.This remedy works faster than any of the mainstream treatments, and with fewer side effects.


Honey has long been regarded as one of the best natural wound healers and infection ?ghters. When a researcher treated patients with Acyclovir for one herpes outbreak and honey for another, overall healing time with honey was 43 percent better than with Acyclovir for sores on the lips and 59 percent better for genital sores.

According to Nutrition and Healing:

“None of the volunteers experienced any side effects with repeated applications of honey, although three patients developed local itching with the Acyclovir.”

Nutrition and Healing November 2004
Medical Science Monitor 10(8):MT94-98; August 2004

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News on Health & Science Positive thinking

Kissing Can Cause Herpes

If you think a kiss is just a kiss, you might want to think again, for the simple pleasure now comes with a health warning-it can cause herpes. The Australian Herpes Management Forum, which is to start an awareness campaign, has warned that a kiss is a major transmitter of herpes. The symbol of affection “poses risks to both adults and children”.
“No parent kissing their child or partner kissing their girlfriend wants to pass along the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), but people should be aware this is the main method of transmission. Once you have been infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2, the virus stays in your body for life and can reactivate at any time,” the Australian media quoted AHMF’s Executive Director Tricia Berger.

“If you have a herpes sore on or near your mouth, it is likely that you’ll pass the virus along to whomever you kiss. It is also possible to transmit the virus even when there are no apparent sores or symptoms, but the risk is higher when the sores are visible,” Berger said.

HSV-1 is the variant of the virus otherwise referred to as cold sores. It is commonly acquired as a child from contact, often a kiss, with adult relatives.

Berger said the herpes risk posed by kissing would be the main theme of a new community service awareness campaign. Television and radio ads will be aired nationally from August up to National Herpes Awareness Day, in October.

The Times Of India

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News on Health & Science

Early Childhood Stress Can Have a Lingering Effect on Your Health

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Stressful experiences in early childhood can have long-lasting impacts on children‘s health that can persist well beyond the resolution of the situation.
A study revealed impaired immune function in adolescents who experienced either physical abuse or time in an orphanage as youngsters. Even though their environments had changed, physiologically they were still responding to stress. How the immune system develops is very much influenced by early environment.

The researchers looked for high levels of antibodies against the common and usually latent herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). While roughly two-thirds of Americans carry this virus, which causes cold sores and fever blisters, people with healthy immune systems are able to keep the virus in check and rarely if ever have symptoms. However, people with weakened immune systems can have trouble suppressing HSV-1 and produce antibodies against the activated virus.

Adolescents who had experienced physical abuse or stressful home environments as children had higher levels of HSV-1 antibodies, showing their immune systems were compromised.


Science Daily January 28, 2009

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences February 2, 2009

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Cold Sore Virus Secret Revealed

The secret of how the cold sore virus manages to persist for a lifetime in the human body may have been cracked by US scientists.

The herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) can lie dormant in facial nerves, emerging periodically to cause sores.

A Duke University Medical Center team may have uncovered how it can reactivate itself from a dormant state.

The finding, published in the journal Nature, could eventually lead to new treatments.

When fighting a virus, the immune system relies heavily on the protein chemicals produced by the virus which it uses to help mark it for destruction.

Herpes viruses manage to evade the immune system by shutting down production of these proteins completely, and remaining in this state for long periods before starting to replicate again.

Wake-up call

This is why patients, once infected, have occasional flare-ups of cold sores or genital herpes, and can never get rid of the infection completely.

However, there is one thing that HSV-1 does produce, the precise role of which has puzzled scientists for some years.

It is a type of RNA, a single strand of genetic information copied from the DNA of the virus. In other viruses, these RNAs make proteins that are useful to the virus, but in herpes, this was not the case.

The Duke University team suspected that it somehow helped keep the virus in its dormant state, and studied what happened to these “latent RNAs” in mice.

They found they were broken down into even smaller strands, called microRNAs, and these appeared to block the production of proteins which reactivated the virus.

Effectively, they were helping keep the virus in its dormant state.

Professor Bryan Cullen, who led the research, said: “We have provided a molecular understanding of how HSV-1 hides and then switches back and forth between the latent and active phases.”

He said a drug based on blocking these microRNAs could in theory “wake up” all the viruses, making them vulnerable to antiviral therapy, and raising the possibility of a cure for herpes.

Professor Roger Everett, a Medical Research Council virologist based in Glasgow, said that the research represented a step forward in a “long-standing problem” in the field.

The next step, he said would be to see what happened in an animal using a virus engineered to block production of these RNAs.

Sources: BBC NEWS.July 2 ’08

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