Sangre de grado (Croton lechleri)

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • 2-[4-(3-Hydroxypropyl)-2-methoxyphenoxy]-propane-1,3-diol, 4,5-dihydroblumenol A, alkaloids, alpha-calacorene, alpha-copaene, alpha-pinene, alpha-thujene, beta-caryophyllene, beta-elemene, betaine, beta-pinene, beta-sitostenine, beta-sitosterol, bincatriol, blumenol B, blumenol C, borneol, calamenene, Calamus rotang L., camphene, (+)-catechin, catechins, cedrucine, crofelemer, crolechinic acid, crolechinol, Croton draco Schltdl. & Cham., Croton draconoides Müll. Arg., Croton drago, Croton lechleri Müll. Arg., Croton palanostigma, Croton salutaris, Croton urucurana Baill., Croton xalapensis Kunth, cuparophenol, Daemonorops draco Bl., Daemonorops draco Blume, Daemonorops didymophylla Becc., Daemonorops micranthus Becc., Daemonorops motleyi Becc., Daemonorops propinquus Becc., Daemonorops rubra (Reinw. ex Blume) Mart., daucosterol, dihydrobenzofuran, dimethylcedrusine, dipentene, D-limonene, Dracaena cinnabari Balf.f., Dracaena cochinchinensis Hort. ex Baker, Dracaena draco (L.) L., Draconis palm, drago, (-)-epicatechin, erythro-guaiacyl-glyceryl-beta-O-4′-dihydroconiferyl ether, eugenol, euparophenol, floribundic acid glucoside, gallocatechin, (+)-gallocatechin, (-)-galloepicatechin, gamma-terpinene, gamma-terpineol, glaucine, hardwickiic acid, isoboldine, korberin A, korberin B, lignin, linalool, magnoflorine, methylthymol, myrcene, norisoboldine, Normal Stool Formula, p-cymene, proanthocyanidins, procyanidins, Provir, Pterocarpus officinalis Jacq., resin, sangre de drago, sangue de agua, sinoacutine, SP-300, SP-303, tannin, taspine, terpinen-4-ol, thaliporphine, vanillin.

  • Note: This monograph will primarily cover Croton lecheri (dragon’s blood, dragon’s-blood croton, sangre de grado), but not Daemonorops draco (dragon’s-blood, dragon’s-blood palm).

Background

  • Sangre de grado (the Peruvian name) or sangre de drago (the Ecuadorian name), meaning “blood of the dragon,” is a medium-sized tree that grows in the upper Amazon region of Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia. It has large, heart-shaped green leaves and greenish-white flowers. Upon injury to the bark of the tree, a dark red resin spills out of the tree. Sangre de grado is still used in South America as traditional medicine for hemorrhaging and wounds, and as an antiseptic. It is also used for protection against ulcers, including those of the stomach, mouth, throat, and intestines; as an antiviral, anticancer, and antidiarrheal agent; and topically for skin conditions and insect bites.

  • Compounds isolated from the sap of sangre de grado have been studied for their effects on diarrhea and herpes virus infections. More studies are needed.

Scientific Evidence

Uses

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Diarrhea

Sangre de grado has been studied as a treatment for diarrhea, travelers’ diarrhea and diarrhea in AIDS patients, with positive results. However, additional research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.

Herpes virus

Sangre de grado has been studied as a treatment for herpes virus infection in patients with AIDS with positive results. Additional studies are needed before a conclusion can be made.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

  • Allergic reactions, anesthetic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiseptic, antiviral, astringent, bleeding, blood cleanser, blood thinner, cancer, chemotherapy side effects reduction, chest pain, diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage), dysentery (intestinal inflammation), eczema (skin disorder), fever, fractures, gum disease, H. pylori infection, hemorrhage, hemorrhoids, insect bites, irritable bowel syndrome, itching, laryngitis, menstrual irregularities, neurasthenia (fatigue, weakness, and memory loss), oral ulcers (mouth ulcers), pain, postpartum hemorrhage, respiratory disorders, respiratory infections, rheumatism, skin cancer, skin conditions, skin infections, stomach problems, toothache, trauma, ulcerative colitis, ulcers, vaginal discharge, vaginal infections, vaginitis, wound healing.

Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

  • For diarrhea, 125-500 milligrams of SP-303, a mixture extracted from the sap of sangre de grado, has been taken by mouth four times daily for two days or every six hours for four days.

  • To treat herpes infection, Virend (SP-303) (15 percent ointment) has been applied to the skin three times daily for 21 days.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for sangre de grado in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid with known allergy or sensitivity to sangre de grado or any of its parts.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • There is a lack of human studies examining the safety of sangre de grado.

  • Sangre de grado may cause a burning sensation when applied to the skin.

  • Avoid with known allergy or sensitivity to sangre de grado or any of its parts.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • There is currently a lack of scientific evidence on the use of sangre de grado during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

  • Sangre de grado may interact with agents that may affect the heart, agents that may affect the immune system, agents that may treat stomach disorders, agents used for the skin, antibiotics, anticancer agents, antidiarrheals, anti-inflammatory agents, antivirals, and wound-healing agents.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Sangre de grado may interact with antibacterials, anticancer herbs and supplements, antidiarrheals, anti-inflammatory agents, antioxidants, antivirals, herbs and supplements used for the skin, herbs and supplements that may affect the immune system, herbs and supplements that may treat stomach disorders, herbs and supplements that may affect the heart, and wound-healing herbs and supplements.

Author Information

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Baumer, U. and Dietemann, P. Identification and differentiation of dragon’s blood in works of art using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Anal.Bioanal.Chem. 2010;397(3):1363-1376. View Abstract
  2. DiCesare, D., DuPont, H. L., Mathewson, J. J., et al. 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;97(10):2585-2588. View Abstract
  3. Fayad, W., Fryknas, M., Brnjic, S., et al. Identification of a novel topoisomerase inhibitor effective in cells overexpressing drug efflux transporters. PLoS.One. 2009;4(10):e7238. View Abstract
  4. Gao, X. L., Jiang, Q., Wang, P. J., et al. [RP-HPLC characteristics of dragon’s blood]. Zhongguo Zhong.Yao Za Zhi. 2007;32(19):2025-2027. View Abstract
  5. Gupta, D., Bleakley, B., and Gupta, R. K. Dragon’s blood: botany, chemistry and therapeutic uses. J.Ethnopharmacol. 2-12-2008;115(3):361-380. View Abstract
  6. Holodniy, M., Koch, J., Mistal, M., et al. A double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled phase II study to assess the safety and efficacy of orally administered SP-303 for the symptomatic treatment of diarrhea in patients with AIDS. Am.J.Gastroenterol. 1999;94(11):3267-3273. View Abstract
  7. 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;9(6):877-896. View Abstract
  8. Lindner KS. Blood of the DRAGON. HerbalGram 2009;84:56-65.
  9. Maguregui, M. I., Alonso, R. M., Barandiaran, M., et al. Micellar electrokinetic chromatography method for the determination of several natural red dyestuff and lake pigments used in art work. J.Chromatogr.A 6-22-2007;1154(1-2):429-436. View Abstract
  10. Orozco-Topete, R., Sierra-Madero, J., Cano-Dominguez, C., et al. Safety and efficacy of Virend for topical treatment of genital and anal herpes simplex lesions in patients with AIDS. Antiviral Res. 1997;35(2):91-103. View Abstract
  11. Phillipson, J. D. A matter of some sensitivity. Phytochemistry 1995;38(6):1319-1343. View Abstract
  12. Phillipson, J. D. Phytochemistry and medicinal plants. Phytochemistry 2001;56(3):237-243. View Abstract
  13. Sandoval, M., Okuhama, N. N., Clark, M., et al. J. Sangre de grado Croton palanostigma induces apoptosis in human gastrointestinal cancer cells. J.Ethnopharmacol. 2002;80(2-3):121-129. View Abstract
  14. Tran, C. D., Butler, R. N., and Miller, M. J. The role of Amazonian herbal medicine Sangre de Grado in Helicobacter pylori infection and its association with metallothionein expression. Helicobacter. 2006;11(2):134-135. View Abstract
  15. Zhong L, Fan GR Lu F Mi HM. Identification of Daemonorops draco Bl. by near-infrared diffuse reflectance spectrometry combined with visualization of convolution transform. Pharmaceutical Care and Research (Yaoxue Fuwu Yu Yanjiu) (CHINA) 2-4-2004;4:111-113.

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.