If I made a list of my top 10 favorite herbs, chaparral (Larrea tridentata) would definitely be on that list. This hardy plant, comprising over 20 species, cannot only survive the extremes of desert life, but can also live to be well over 10,000 years old. In fact, I have read that one of the oldest living plants on earth is a massive chaparral plant in California believed to be over 25,000 years old. Natural habitats for chaparral include the Southwestern US, Mexico, South America, South Africa, Australia and the Mediterranean.
Medicinally, chaparral is hard to beat. The plant has strong antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-tumor properties. Chaparral is also a great anti-inflammatory and raises vitamin C levels in the adrenal glands. By strengthening the adrenals, inflammatory conditions are reduced in the body, stress responses are improved, immune function is strengthened, depression can be alleviated, blood sugar can be stabilized, allergies/asthma reduced, etc. Chaparral is an extremely strong blood purifier, which is probably in part due to its high sulfur content. Its sulfur content could also help explain its historical use as a hair growth agent.
In addition, chaparral is the strongest antioxidant I have seen. Many antioxidant manufacturers claim that their antioxidant is the strongest known, but they are misleading. For example, manufacturers of Pycnogenol claimed that they had the strongest antioxidant known. They even went as far to compare the strength of their product to vitamin E. The problem is that Pycnogenols, or PCOs, are water soluble. Natural vitamin E on the other hand is lipid (fat) soluble. This is like comparing a car to a bicycle. They are both a source of transportation, but with big differences. And if I were to compare Pycnogenols with vitamin E, I would say the vitamin E is the car, which is more powerful, and the Pycnogenols are the bicycle. This is because I feel the cell membrane, which is composed of lipids is more prone to free radical damage than the components within the water portion of the cell. Chaparral is different because it is not limited to the water or lipid portions of the cell. The antioxidants in chaparral work in both parts of the cell.
The antioxidants in chaparral include flavonoids, and a very powerful antioxidant known as nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA). NDGA is such a strong and effective antioxidant that it was actually used for decades as an antioxidant preservative for oils and foods, with full approval of the USDA.