Sangre de Grado: A Powerful Antioxidant


Sangre de Grado (Peruvian Spanish) or Sangre de Drago (Ecuadorian Spanish) is known by its botantical name as Croton lechleri and  is a species of flowering plant that is native to northwestern South America.  It translates to “Dragon’s Blood”.  The dragon’s blood refers to the trees thick red latex.


Red sap (latex) of Sangre de Grado tree bark

Sangre de Grado includes a number of biologically active chemical substances:

  • Alpha-Calacorene
  • Alpha-Copaene
  • Alpha-Pinene
  • Alpha-Thujene
  • Beta-Caryophyllene
  • Beta-Elemene
  • Betaine
  • Beta-Pinene
  • Borneol
  • Calamenene
  • Camphene
  • Cuparophenol
  • Dimethylcedrusine
  • Dipentene
  • Eugenol
  • Euparophenol
  • Gamma-Terpinene
  • Gamma-Terpineol
  • Lignin
  • Limonene
  • Linalool
  • Methylthymol
  • Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins (OPC)
  • P-Cymene
  • Tannins
  • Taspine
  • Terpinen-4-ol
  • Vanillin

Purported Uses of Sangre de Grado

Taspine is an alkaloid which acts as a potent acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. [1] Taspine has also been found to be a dual topoisomerase inhibitor effective in cells overexpressing drug efflux transporters and induces wide-spread apoptosis in multicellular spheroids. [2]

Taspine promotes early phases of wound healing in a dose-dependent manner with no substantial modification due to its mechanism of action related to its chemotactic properties on fibroblasts. [3]

Taspine has also shown anti-inflammatory potential. [4]

Dimethylcedrusine, another biologically active substance in Sangre de Grado, was shown to inhibit thymidine incorporation, while protecting cells against degradation in a starvation medium. [5]

Sangre de grado exerts anti-viral effects against influenza viruses, parainfluenza viruses, herpes simplex viruses types I and II, hepatitis A virus and hepatitis B virus. [6]

Sangre de grado may also present a complementary and alternative medicine approach for the treatment of fluid loss in watery diarrhea. [7]

Sangre de grado has also been found to induce apoptosis in human gastrointestinal cancer cells. [8]

Antioxidant Activity of Sangre de Grado

Another important health benefit to Sangre de Grado is its potential as a powerful antioxidant herb.

An article published in the Nutrition Journal in 2010 entitled The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide, by Monica H Carlsen, Bente L Halvorsen, Kari Holte, Siv K Bøhn, Steinar Dragland, Laura Sampson, Carol Willey, Haruki Senoo, Yuko Umezono, Chiho Sanada, Ingrid Barikmo, Nega Berhe, Walter C Willett, Katherine M Phillips, David R Jacobs, Jr, and Rune Blomhoff, found that Sange de Grado had the highest antioxidant content of the 59 herbal products tested in the database.

Sange de Grado tested at 2897.1 mmol/100 g, much higher than the next highest herb formula Triphala at 706.25 mmol/100 g.

Other antioxidant rich products are Triphala, Amalaki and Arjuna from India and Goshuyu-tou, a traditional kampo medicine from Japan, with antioxidant values in the range of 132.6 to 706.3 mmol/100 g. [9]


[1] Rollinger, JM; Schuster, D; Baier, E; Ellmerer, EP; Langer, T; Stuppner, H (2006). “Taspine: Bioactivity-guided isolation and molecular ligand-target insight of a potent acetylcholinesterase inhibitor from Magnolia x soulangiana”. Journal of Natural Products 69 (9): 1341–1346. doi:10.1021/np060268p. PMC 3526713. PMID 16989531

[2] Identification of a Novel Topoisomerase Inhibitor Effective in Cells Overexpressing Drug Efflux Transporters

[3] Porras-Reyes, B. H., et al. Enhancement of wound healing by the alkaloid taspine defining mechanism of action. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 203(1):18-25, 1993.

[4] Perdue, G. P., et al. South American plants II: taspine isolation and anti-inflammatory activity. J Pharm Sci. 68(1):124-126, 1979

[5] Isolation of a dihydrobenzofuran lignan from South American dragon’s blood (Croton spp.) as an inhibitor of cell proliferation

[6] Williams, J. E. Review of antiviral and immunomodulating properties of plants of the Peruvian rainforest with a particular emphasis on una de gato and sangre de grado. Alternative Medicine Review. 6(6):567-579, 2001

[7] Fischer, H., et al. A novel extract SB-300 from the stem bark latex of Croton lechleri inhibits CFTR-mediated chloride secretion in human colonic epithelial cells. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 93(2-3):351-357, 2004.

[8] Sangre de grado Croton palanostigma induces apoptosis in human gastrointestinal cancer cells

[9] The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide; Nutr J. 2010; 9: 3. Published online 2010 Jan 22. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-9-3

Informational References:

The Antioxidant Food Table, Carlsen et al. 2010 (PDF)

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

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Herb Pharm Dragon’s Blood (Sangre de Drago) Liquid Tree Sap for Digestive Support – 1 Ounce