Blood of the dragon (Croton lechleri) is a liquid resin sourced from a tree found throughout South America. Sometimes referred to as dragon's blood or sangre de drago, blood of the dragon bears a dark red color. Long used in certain systems of traditional medicine, blood of the dragon is said to offer a number of health benefits.
Studies show that blood of the dragon contains a significant amount of antioxidants. Widely available in dietary supplement form, blood of the dragon is also used as an ingredient in skin-care products.
Why Do People Use Blood of the Dragon?
Blood of the dragon is often touted as a natural remedy for the following conditions:
In addition, blood of the dragon is said to prevent cancer and fight off viruses. When applied topically, blood of the dragon is purported to moisturize the skin, alleviate symptoms of eczema, and promote wound healing.
Benefits of Blood of the Dragon
Although research on the health effects of blood of the dragon is fairly limited, there's some evidence that it may offer certain benefits. Here's a look at several key findings from the available studies:
Blood of the dragon may aid in the treatment of diarrhea, according to a 2002 study from the American Journal of Gastroenterology. For the study, 184 U.S. residents who acquired diarrhea while traveling in Jamaica or Mexico were assigned to two days of treatment with a placebo or with a product containing blood of the dragon. Study results revealed that the blood of the dragon product was effective in shortening the duration of the travelers' diarrhea by 21 percent.
In addition, a report published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in the 2003 found a number of clinical trials showing positive results for the use of blood of the dragon in treatment of diarrhea. In their review of scientific evidence supporting traditional uses for blood of the dragon, the report's authors also determined that blood of the dragon may help treat wounds and the itching, pain, and swelling of insect bites.
Blood of the dragon may be a potent, cost-effective treatment for gastrointestinal ulcers, suggests a study published in the American Journal of Physiology in 2000. In tests on rats, researchers found that blood of the dragon helped speed up the healing of ulcers, possibly due to its anti-inflammatory effects.
Preliminary research suggests that blood of the dragon shows promise as a cancer-fighter. In a 2012 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, for example, tests on mice and on human cancer cells demonstrated that compounds found in blood of the dragon may help inhibit the growth of tumors.
Additionally, a 2002 study on human gastrointestinal cancer cells found that blood of the dragon may help induce apoptosis (a type of programmed cell death essential for stopping the proliferation of cancer cells). Publishing their findings in Journal of Ethnopharmacology, the study's authors state that blood of the dragon "should be evaluated further as a potential source of anti-cancer agents."
Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of long-term use of supplements containing blood of the dragon. However, it should be noted that self-treating a chronic condition with blood of the dragon and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.
Where to Find Blood of the Dragon
Widely available for purchase online, dietary supplements (including liquid extracts and capsules) are sold in many natural-foods stores and in stores specializing in dietary supplements.
Alonso-Castro AJ, Ortiz-Sánchez E, Domínguez F, López-Toledo G, Chávez M, Ortiz-Tello Ade J, García-Carrancá A. "Antitumor effect of Croton lechleri Mull. Arg. (Euphorbiaceae)." J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Mar 27;140(2):438-42.
DiCesare D, DuPont HL, Mathewson JJ, Ashley D, Martinez-Sandoval F, Pennington JE, Porter SB. "A double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of SP-303 (Provir) in the symptomatic treatment of acute diarrhea among travelers to Jamaica and Mexico." Am J Gastroenterol. 2002 Oct;97(10):2585-8.
Jones K. "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." J Altern Complement Med. 2003 Dec;9(6):877-96.
Miller MJ, MacNaughton WK, Zhang XJ, Thompson JH, Charbonnet RM, Bobrowski P, Lao J, Trentacosti AM, Sandoval M. "Treatment of gastric ulcers and diarrhea with the Amazonian herbal medicine sangre de grado." Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2000 Jul;279(1):G192-200.
Sandoval M, Okuhama NN, Clark M, Angeles FM, Lao J, Bustamante S, Miller MJ. "Sangre de grado Croton palanostigma induces apoptosis in human gastrointestinal cancer cells." J Ethnopharmacol. 2002 May;80(2-3):121-9.