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Dragon’s Blood: Benefits, Uses and Possible Side Effects

Dragon’s blood is a resin produced by some plants. It works as a natural coating against pathogens that could attack them.

Its use is very popular in South America, especially in Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. There it is used as an alternative medicine to combat inflammation and stimulate wound healing.

As with any natural remedy, it is best to first be sure of the scientific support for the properties. The use for human health is not free of risks and in no case could it replace a treatment indicated by a doctor.

Where does dragon blood grow?

Also known as “grade blood” or “dragon’s blood”, it is not a plant. It is a viscous substance produced by several species of trees: Dracaena, Daemonorops, Pterocarpus, Calamus rotang and Croton. It is a tree of the species, Croton lechleri, one of the most popular for extracting latex.

The plants that produce dragon’s blood grow at a certain height above sea level, in countries such as Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Brazil. They can be found high in the Amazon, but also in the Near East, such as Yemen. Due to their location, they have a strong historical connection with the indigenous communities of these regions.

Health benefits of dragon’s blood?

Until now, the main property of this product would lie in its astringency. That is, it would produce healing, anti-inflammatory and antihemorrhagic effects. But let’s see in detail.

1. Improves blood circulation

In 2014, a systematic review published in Molecules compiled information on experimentation with mice and dragon’s blood. The authors concluded that the substance has the potential to inhibit arterial thrombosis, increase fibrinoclase levels and increase cerebral blood flow.

The same review reviews findings on the possibility that the resin reduces blood viscosity. Ultimately, all of this would contribute to improving blood circulation.

It would also have a hemostatic effect. That is, it could stop the bleeding of injured tissue. And in part, this would explain its traditional use as a healing agent.

2. Works as a gastric protector

A study published in 2022, investigated the effects of dragon’s blood in treating gastric ulcers. A test was carried out with 40 rats and it was found that the resin could attenuate the damage caused by alcohol to the stomach mucosa.

This evidence in animals and in the laboratory adds to previous data on the stimulation that the substance generates for the production of gastric mucus. Altogether, these effects would be useful in patients with peptic ulcers or gastritis.

3. Has antibacterial and antifungal effects

There are various studies that support the antibacterial and antiviral action of Croton lechleri ​​latex. This would be due to the presence of alkaloids, steroids, terpenoids, flavonoids, polyacetylenes, polyphenols and other substances that function as physicochemical defenses of plants.

In fact, it was seen that at a concentration of 0.25 mg/ml, dragon’s blood could inhibit the growth of the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, Diphtheria bacilli and Bacillus anthracis. At a higher concentration, the resin inhibited the growth of Candida albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans, and the fungus Sporothrix.

Specifically, a study published in 2006 found that concentrated dragon blood inhibited the growth of Helicobacter pylori. This bacteria is responsible for the inflammation of the gastric mucosa, so it is one more property to add to the stomach protective effect of the resin.

4. Promotes skin repair and healing

Dragon’s blood would help regenerate the skin by stimulating the formation of new cells in wounds. The effect is partly attributed to the alkaloid called taspine and polyphenols.

The same process is applied to the mucous membranes. A 2015 study that evaluated oral wounds resulting from an extraction found that they healed faster when treated with resin. The findings were in 50 adults who participated and reduced the average healing time from 27 to 18 days.

On the other hand, a case study published in Holistic Nursing Practice analyzed the clinical effect of dragon’s blood for pressure ulcers. These form when a patient remains lying down for a long time. The nursing team noticed that the lesions improved faster with the resin.

5. It is strong anti-diarrheal agent

90% of dragon blood is made up of polyphenols called proanthocyanidins. Among them, crofelemer or SP-303, is a pharmacological antidiarrheal agent.

SP-303 has been approved for human use by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with indication for diarrhea suffered by people with HIV/AIDS. Latex would also be used for cases of traveler’s diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome.

6. Has anti-inflammatory potential

Daemonorops draco and Dracaena draco are the main species involved in the anti-inflammatory potential of the resin. Scientific communications reported on substances, such as dragonines, capable of reducing the signals and mediating molecules of inflammation.

Taspine, another compound in latex, is also considered anti-inflammatory. It has shown potential to improve the situation of rats with arthritis, for example.

7. Rich source of antioxidant

The aqueous extract of Dracaena draco has an antioxidant profile. Terpene compounds have been isolated, which would explain much of this effect.

In laboratory tests, dragon’s blood was able to block free radicals and prevent red blood cell hemolysis. These findings do not mean that it has an immediate effect on the human body. In short, it is one more action that would add, for example, to the healing effect.

8. Contributes to diabetes control

Dragon’s blood is not a treatment for diabetes. It cannot in any way be indicated as a medical approach to control blood sugar.

However, various investigations found a beneficial effect on sugar metabolism. Although, for now, it was in vitro and in animals.

Dracaena cinnabari resin was compared with metformin, obtaining promising results. On the other hand, Dracaena arborea had beneficial effects on the spermatogenesis of diabetic rats, raising the possibility that it could be used to improve fertility in patients with the disease.

How is dragon’s blood used?

Dragon’s blood can be used orally or topically. The first form is preferred in order to protect the gastric mucosa or support the treatment of gastritis and gastric ulcers.

It is available in tinctures, alcoholic extracts or in powder capsules. Each manufacturer specifies the instructions for use on its labeling. In this sense, you must ensure the acquisition of a quality and certified product.

In topical use, a preparation must be prepared for application to the skin. Generally, it is suggested to dissolve the latex in a plantain or marshmallow infusion to transform it into an ointment.

It should not be placed on open wounds, but around them, in case you want to take advantage of its healing properties. For mucous membranes, for example oral, only controlled use in a dental office should be allowed.

Possible contraindications

In animal tests, the oral administration of grade blood at therapeutic doses and in overdose did not produce liver or kidney alterations. In principle, this would be a basis for its relative security. Although these are not human tests.

There is a lack of sufficient data to certify safety in certain more susceptible population groups. Therefore, it is better not to use it for pregnant, lactating and children under 12 years of age.

Considering the possible effect of the resin on the blood, patients taking anticoagulants and those diagnosed with coagulation problems should exercise caution when ingesting it. Also those who are on an antiplatelet drug regimen, as often happens in those who have had a myocardial infarction.

What should you remember about dragon’s blood?

Natural and alternative medicine is the only option for many people. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), up to 75% of the planet’s population depends almost exclusively on plants to treat diseases.

In any case, natural is not always equivalent to something safe. While dragon’s blood has no serious side effects reported, it should be used with caution. Furthermore, its attributed properties are not yet fully supported in humans.

If you want to try supplements of this resin, consult your doctor. Get their endorsement to include them in your health care routines and confirm that you do not belong to a group that has a contraindication.

Investigations are still underway. In the future, there may be more news about the potential properties of dragon’s blood.

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