Creosote Bush Medicinal Uses
Historically, creosote bush has served many medicinal purposes. Indigenous people rely on creosote as a ‘cure-all’ plant with wide reaching applications. Ethnobotanical notes mention creosote was used as a cure of fever, colds, stomach pains, a general pain killer, diuretic, arthritis, sinusitis, anemia and an anti-diarrheal.
Creosote bush is also antimicrobial. Thereby the plant is useful for cuts and bacterial or fungal infections.
Tea was made from the plant. The waxy leaves and small branches were gathered, dried and stored in the sun. When dried, the material was pulverized and steeped into tea.
Parts of the Creosote plant were also smoked for various reasons. In northern Mexico, the Seri smoked insect galls that grew as infectious growths from creosote branches. These galls were caused by an infestation of a desert midge. Apparently, inhaling this smoke offered the Seri great pleasure.
The Pima of North America also inhaled smoke from burning creosote as a remedy for laziness. Another North America tribe, the Papago held their feet above smoldering creosote branches to ease the pain from sore feet.
After learning of the medicinal use of creosote from Native Americans, scientists began to explore the medicinal nature of this plant.
One of the many bio-active compounds isolated from this plant is called, NDGA – or nordihydroguaiaretic acid. Clinical studies have demonstrated the ability of this compound to inhibit cancerous growth. However, other studies have shown detrimental effects, such as toxicity. Hopefully, future studies will further elucidate the benefits of this plant. It is possible, that dosage is the difference between benefit and detriment.