About Sangre de Drago
Croton lechleri is a tree that grows in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. When the bark is cut, a red sap that resembles blood oozes out. This sap has a vast array of medicinal uses, and goes by many names throughout Latin America.
Dr. James Duke, a highly accomplished ethnobotanists and one of the experts on the plants of the rainforest, lists around 50 different names in use by various communities, some in Spanish and some a mixture of Spanish and Quechua (the native language of indigenous communities). In the US it is referred to most commonly as “sangre de drago” or “sangre de drago”. The American Herbal Products Association has decided to use the standardized name “dragon’s blood croton” for this plant and its extracts, though Dr. Duke notes that it is not a name he had encountered previously.
Traditional usage in indigenous communities covers a broad spectrum of medicinal uses, and research is increasingly providing support for these folks uses. The naturally occurring substance has been shown to be more effective than individual compounds isolated from it, as is often the case for botanical remedies.
Sangre de drago is about 90% by weight pure proanthocyanidins, a type of antioxidant. Its main active components are an alkaloid called taspine and the lignan dimethyldedrusine. It is available through a few sources in the US either as a sap contained within vegetable capsules are as a liquid version of the sap in a small concentration of alcohol to preserve it. It has demonstrated low toxicity and minimal side effects. It is used both topically and internally. A few drops can be taken internally either by itself or mixed in a beverage such as water or juice.
Benefits of Sangre de Drago
Sangre de Drago shows beneficial properties that include antiviral action, blocking of the inflammatory response, the ability to increase formation of collagen and seal wounds, and the ability to block pain signals. It is used for dental health, wounds and other skin problems, female health, digestive health, viral infections, and more.
Sangre is used for douching for general purposes, and before and after childbirth. It makes the vaginal lining impervious to bacteria and yeast.
In both people and animals, sangre is effective for dealing with inflamed or infected gums, and for removing tartar. It can be used before and after dental work to help reduce pain and inflammation. Some users report that dental work that was originally recommended was no longer needed after treatment with just sangre de drago.
Sangre is effective for providing relief and speeding healing from eczema, insect bites and stings, wounds, and plant reactions such as poison ivy. It helps heal wounds by forming a protective barrier, and it also reduces stinging, itching and pain. It has shown ability to kill viruses and fungi as well, and blocks the activation of pain signals in the nerves. One veterinarian who uses sangre with his animal patients also reports having used it alone after cutting his leg with a chainsaw. The pain went away quickly and the wound healed without a scar. One study of pest control workers showed that sangre provides immediate relief from bites and stings within 90 seconds, with the benefit lasting for 6 hours.
Sangre de drago is used for intestinal and stomach ulcers and as an antidiarrheal. It can be used for people and animals. It is also reported to be effective in dealing with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). In animals it has helped treat gastritis, ulcer disease, and infectious diarrhea, and promotes healing in the gastrointestinal tract.
Studies have shown sangre to be effect against herpes, and it is also being studied for action against HIV. It is reported to be helpful for upper respiratory infections as well. Sangre shows antiviral activity against influenza, parainfluenza, herpes simplex viruses I and II, and hepatitis A and B.
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Sources & Resources
Amazon Herbs A-Z: Herbal Recipes & Remedies, V. Osalina Berman, M.H.
Duke’s Handbook of Medicinal Plants of Latin America, James A. Duke
Phytochemistry of Medicinal Plants: Proceedings of the Thirty-Fourth Annual Meeting of the Phytochemical Society of North America
Prescription for Herbal Healing, Phyllis A. Balch & Robert Rister
The Green Pharmacy, James A. Duke
Jones (2003), Review of Sangre de Drago (Croton lechleri) - A South American Tree Sap in the Treatment of Diarrhea, Inflammation, Insect Bites, Viral Infections, and Wounds: Traditional Uses to Clinical Research. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 9(6): 877-896.
This post is part of the series: Amazon Rainforest Herbs
Learn about the health benefits of a series of Amazon Rainforest Herbs, based on traditional use in indigenous communities and on research studies.