Objective: The objective of this review is to provide an overview of the pharmacologic evidence that may or may not support clinical and ethnomedical uses of the sap of sangre de drago (dragon's blood; Croton lechleri Müll. Arg.). Data sources used were BIOSIS, EMBASE, PubMed, TOXLIT, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, manual searches, papers on file from peer-reviewed journals, textbooks available at Armana Research, Inc., and researchers in the field of South American botanical medicine.
Conclusions: The results of in vitro and in vivo studies largely support the majority of ethnomedical uses of sangre de drago including the treatment of diarrhea, wounds, tumors, stomach ulcers, herpes infection, the itching, pain and swelling of insect bites, and other conditions. Clinical studies of sangre de drago products have reported positive results in the treatment of traveler's and watery diarrhea and the symptoms of insect bites. Because the sap has shown low toxicity and preparations used in clinical studies were well tolerated, further clinical and pharmacologic studies are anticipated. Acknowledgment of the diversity in the chemical makeup of the sap from one geographic area to another and the recent characterization of alkaloid chemotypes of sangre de drago will require that materials developed for clinical use are standardized.