Larrea tridentata (Sessé & Moc. ex DC.) Coville

Last updated: 15 Aug 2016

Scientific Name

Larrea tridentata (Sessé & Moc. ex DC.) Coville


Larrea tridentata var. tridentata. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Chaparral, creosote bush, gobernado, hediondilla. [2]

Geographical Distributions

Larrea tridentata is native to the southern California and is also found outside of California, but is confined to western North America such as Nevada to central Arizona and New Mexico. [3][4]

Botanical Description

No documentation.


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

L tridentata extract has been reported to contain a few bioactive constituents such as lignans (e.g. norisoguaiacin, nordihydroguaiaretic acid and dihydroguaiaretic acid), flavonoid glycosides (3-methyl-kaempferol, 3,3'-dimethyl-quercetin, 3,7-dimethyl-quercetin, and 3,7,3'-trimethyl-quercetin), amino acid (e.g. arginine), and phenolic compounds. [4]

Plant Part Used

Leaves and twigs. [5]

Traditional Use                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

L. tridentata has been used by numerous Native American tribes in the Southwest quadrant of the United States and into Mexico most commonly to treat digestive and gastrointestinal maladies. Infusions as well as decoctions of the leaves have been used as a gastric antispasmodic to treat upset stomach [5] and diarrhoea. The Pima tribe applied the gum orally, directing it to be chewed and swallowed in order to treat similar gastrointestinal complaints [6]. The benefits of these antispasmodic properties have been used by some Native American tribes to alleviate the cramps associated with delayed menstruation [7].

L. tridentata also was reported to exhibit orthopedic and analgesic activity when applied topically. Some of Native American tribes used an infusion of the leaves or twigs to relieve stiffness and pain in limbs and muscles. Occasionally, a poultice made from the chewed or heated leaves has been used to alleviate general pain, [5] as well as pain resulting from rheumatic disease [6] and arthritis [8]. In cases of rheumatism, an infusion has also been used internally in conjunction with its external application. Poultices, infusions and decoctions have been used externally in order to alleviate symptoms of sprains, or sore bones. In cases of sore feet, the Papago tribe would lay the green branches of L. tridentata in the ashes of a fire and hold the feet in the smoke [5]. Additionally, L. tridentata has been applied externally to bruises, lacerations, bites, stings, [6] and dandruff [5].

L. tridentata has also been used in traditional Native American medicine to treat common respiratory, pulmonary and throat ailments. In instances of cold, an infusion of the leaves has been taken internally or the leaves have been steamed. Tea made from the leaves has been used to treat throat conditions, partially because of its perceived expectorant activity [6]L. tridentata has been used by Native Americans as a pulmonary aid, most often being used as an infusion in cases of pulmonary infection [5].

Some Native American tribes, namely the Cahuilla, have found a role for L. tridentata in the treatment of cancer [5] with other tribes using it specifically to treat leukemia [6].

Preclinical Data


Hepatotoxicity activity

Nordihydroguaiaretic acid extracted from L. tridentata leaves has been shown to exert protective properties in cases of ferric-nitrilotriacetate induced hepatic toxicity in treated animals that attributable to its antioxidant activities. [9]

Nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA) in the leaves and twigs of L. tridentata administration is associated with a time and dose-dependent increase in serum alanine aminotransferase levels, which cause liver damage in the mouse. [10]

Antidiabetic activity

L. tridentata extract has been reported to exhibit antidiabetic activity in animal studies. Mouse models of type II diabetes have displayed reduced plasma glucose concentrations following treatment with NDGA despite the fact that plasma insulin concentrations remained unchanged. In this animal model of type II diabetes, treatment with NDGA improved glucose tolerance through an accentuation of the ability of insulin to reduce plasma glucose concentrations. [11] Another study also showed that NDGA are effective in reducing triglyceride concentration in fat-fed/STZ rats. [12]

Nephroprotective activity

Ethanolic extract of the leaves and twigs of L. tridentata have been demonstrated nephroprotective activity in hamsters fed a rich carbohydrate, fat-fed diet. Results indicated that the ethanolic extract significantly reduced gallstone frequency, gallbladder bile cholesterol concentration and moles percent cholesterol. [13]

Nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA) of L. tridentata leaves was given orally to a group of K(2)Cr(2)O(7)-treated rats by mini osmotic pumps (17 mg/kg/day). The results show that NDGA was able to ameliorate the structural and functional renal damage evaluated by histopathological analysis and by measuring proteinuria, urinary excretion of N-acetyl-beta-d-glucosaminidase, serum creatinine, and serum glutathione peroxidase activity. [14]

Antimicrobial activity

Extracts from L. tridentata have shown it to possess antimicrobial activity against a spectrum of microbial organisms, including but not limited to L. monocytogenes,C. perfringensS. dysenteriaeY. enterocoliticaP. vulgaris, actinomycetes and molds. [15]

Antiviral activity

Nordihydroguairetic acid (NDGA) of L. tridentata has been demonstrated a potent antiviral agent against human papillomavirus infection. Using the specific luciferase activity as the indicator of gene expression, Mal.4 and M(4)N of NDGA derivatives were found to be active in a dose dependent manner that is in the same range of concentrations reported for the promoters of HIV, HSV, and simian virus 40 (SV40) while tetra-acetyl NDGA was much more active in suppression of the HPV P(97) promoter activity than Mal.4 and M(4)N. [16]

Anticancer activity

Extracts of L. tridentata have been demonstrated to exhibit anticancer activities both in vitro and in vivo. A few studies have shown that nordihydoguaiaretic acid (NDGA) of L. tridentata was significantly reduced the growth of breast cancer cells by inhibition of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) receptor. [17][18][19]

Nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA) at dose dependent manner was significantly inhibited the in vitro proliferation of Helicobacter pylori and prevent the association of gastric cancer in Mongolian gerbils. [20]

A plant lignan, 3'-O-methyl-nordihydroguaiaretic acid also has been reported to suppress papillomavirus E6 protein function, stabilizes p53 protein, and induces apoptosis in cervical tumour cells. [21]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation.


No documentation.

Side effects

Patients who have a history of liver or kidney problems should not use L. tridentata. There have been reports of hepatotoxicity and nephrotoxicity associated with L. tridentata use. [22][23][24]

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

Avoid using of L. tridentata as it may give effects to uterine activity and liver. [25]

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

No documentation.

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation.


No documentation.


Dosage Range

No documentation.

Most Common Dosage

Use of less than 1 ml daily of tincture that contain less than 10% L. tridentata for internal consumption. [24]


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


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  3. Calflora: Information on California plants for education, research and conservation, with data contributed by public and private institutions and individuals, including the Consortium of California Herbaria. [homepage on the Internet]. Berkeley, California; No date [updated 2016 Sept 20, cited 2016 Sept 21]. Available from:
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  11. Luo J, Chuang T, Cheung J, et al. Masoprocol (nordihydroguaiaretic acid): A new antihyperglycemic agent isolated from the creosote bush (Lareea tridentata). Eur J Pharmacol. 1998;346(1):77-79.
  12. Reed MJ, Meszaros K, Entes LJ, et al. Effect of masoprocol on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in a rat model of type II diabetes. Diabetologia. 1999;42(1):102-106.
  13. Artega S, Carmona A, Luis J, Andrade-Cetto A, Cárdenas R. Effect of Larrea tridentata (creosote bush) on cholesterol gallstones and bile secretion in hamsters. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2005;57(9):10913-1099.
  14. Yam-Canul P, Chirino YI, Sánchez-González DJ. Nordihydroguaiaretic acid attenuates potassium dichromate-induced oxidative stress and nephrotoxicity. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008;46(3):1089-1096.
  15. Verástegui MA, Sáanchez CA, Heredia NL, García-Alvarado JS. Antimicrobial activity of extracts of three major plants from the Chichuahuan desert. J Ethnopharmacol. 1996;52(3):175-177.
  16. Craigo J, Callahan M, Huang RC, DeLucia AL. Inhibition of human papillomavirus tupe 16 gene expression by nordiaguairetic acid plant lignan derivatives. Antiviral Res. 2000;47(1):19-28.
  17. Youngren JF, Gable K, Penaranda C, et al. Nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA) inhibits the IGF-1 and c-erbB2/HER2/neu receptors and suppresses growth in breast cancer cells. Breast Cancer Rest Treat. 2005;94(1):37-46.
  18. Van Slambrouck S, Daniels AL, et al. Effects of crude aqueous medicinal plant extracts on growth and invasion of breast cancer cells. Oncol Rep. 2007;17(6):1487-1492.
  19. Meyer GE, Chesler L, Liu D. Nordihydroguaiaretic acid inhibits insulin-like growth factor signalling growth and survival in human neuroblastoma cells. J Cell Biochem. 2007;102(6):1529-1541.
  20. Toyoda T, Tsukamoto T, Mizoshita T, et al. Inhibitory effect of nordihydroguairetic acid, a plant lignan, on Helicobacter pylori-associated gastric carcinogenesis in Mongolian gerbils. Cancer Sci. 2007;98(11):1689-1695.
  21. Allen KL, Tschantz DR, Awad KS, Lynch WP, DeLucia AL. A plant lignan, 3'-O-methyl-nordihydroguaiaretic acid, suppresses papillomavirus E6 protein function, stabilizes p53 protein, and induced apoptosis in cervical tumor cells. Mol Carcinog. 2007;46(7):564-675.
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