In a desert ecosystem, it’s a miracle anything survives. From unspeakable dryness to harsh winds and even harsher sun, the conditions are, shall we say, less than ideal. So, it stands to reason that plants who thrive in deserts just might be mightier than their more sheltered counterparts. Or so is the case with chaparral. This hardy plant is making superfood headway, and it’s no wonder why.
Chaparral (Larrea tridentate) is a bush found in the deserts of western North America that is incredibly long-living; there are said to be colonies that are more than 10,000 years old! Because of chaparral’s impressive ability to not only survive, but thrive, within its environment, it’s thought that this plant might contain properties that can help us humans deal with the increasing demands of our own environment, such as pollution and modern-day stress.
Chaparral contains a potent compound called nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA), which is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect cells against damage by free-radicals (read: aging and age-related disease). Many believe this antioxidant is the source of the chaparral bush’s extraordinarily long lifespan.
But it doesn’t stop there. The leaves of this bush which are generally dried and taken in tea form from in-the-know heath-ophiles, are also said to improve the function of the adrenal glands, purify the blood, help with arthritis, help reduce allergic and asthmatic symptoms, balance hormones, encourages hair growth and healthy skin, and maybe even help to prevent cavities. Now, that’s a cup of tea!
image: Fikret Onal