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What Is Chaparral Used for Today?
There are no scientifically established medicinal uses of chaparral, and reports of liver injury have made it substantially less popular in recent years.
The presumed active ingredient in chaparral is the antioxidant compound nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA). NDGA is used as a preservative in packaged and processed foods. Some evidence from animal and test tube studies hints that NGDA, or synthetic chemicals related to it, might have anticancer effects. 1 2 3 However, the same can be said of thousands of substances. So far, NGDA and its analogues have not shown themselves promising enough to warrant human trials.
Other proposed actions of chaparral and its constituents lack more than the most minimal of scientific evidence. These include anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and liver-protective effects.
- Ping YF, Yao XH, Chen JH, Liu H, Chen DL, Zhou XD, Wang JM, Bian XW. The anti-cancer compound Nordy inhibits CXCR4-mediated production of IL-8 and VEGF by malignant human glioma cells. J Neurooncol. 84(1):21-9.
- Zavodovskaya M, Campbell MJ, Maddux BA, Shiry L, Allan G, Hodges L, Kushner P, Kerner JA, Youngren JF, Goldfine ID. Nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA), an inhibitor of the HER2 and IGF-1 receptor tyrosine kinases, blocks the growth of HER2-overexpressing human breast cancer cells. J Cell Biochem. 103(2):624-35.
- Meyer GE, Chesler L, Liu D, Gable K, Maddux BA, Goldenberg DD, Youngren JF, Goldfine ID, Weiss WA, Matthay KK, Rosenthal SM. Nordihydroguaiaretic acid inhibits insulin-like growth factor signaling, growth, and survival in human neuroblastoma cells. J Cell Biochem. 102(6):1529-41.