This ancient remedy has been used for centuries and scientists are discovering the mechanisms behind its long-recognized effects.
Out of 3,100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs, and supplements used worldwide, dragon’s blood is the highest-known antioxidant tested according to a study published in Nutrition Journal. This dark-red tree resin has been used as a medicine for more than 1,000 years by many ancient civilizations including the Greeks and Romans and has been used in many traditional medicine systems worldwide, including traditional Chinese medicine, Arabic medicine, Thai medicine, and African medicine.
Some of its uses and applications include healing wounds, hemostasis (stopping bleeding), killing pain, and curing various conditions such as diarrhea, dysentery, and ulcers. In addition to medicinal applications, dragon’s blood has also been used as a coloring material, varnish, incense, and for ceremonial purposes.
Contemporary research not only supports the traditional uses of the substance but has also found additional health benefits dragon’s blood possesses, including an antioxidative effect that is associated with slowing the processes of aging in both body and brain.
What Is Dragon’s Blood?
Dragon’s blood gets its name from the dark-red resin produced by various tropical tree species, collectively known as dragon trees. These trees belong to several plant families, including Dracaena, Croton, Pterocarpus, and Daemonorops, which are found in many parts of the world.
The various sources mean the various resins will have different properties. The study mentioned above didn’t detail the exact plant the resin was derived from but noted the resin came from Peru. Throughout history, different cultures used different sources of plant resin.
A review published in 2008 in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology notes that the dragon’s blood derived from Dracaena cinnabari was used as a dye and medicine in the Mediterranean basin.
Also, several species of the genus Croton are used by indigenous cultures of the Amazon River for the treatment of infected wounds and to accelerate wound healing.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, the dragon’s blood resin from Daemonorops draco and Dracaena cochinchinensis are equally prescribed for improving blood circulation.
Antibacterial and Antifungal
The dragon’s blood resin demonstrates antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activity, which is why dragon’s blood is widely used for infectious skin conditions.
In traditional medicine, many plants were used against fungal pathogens. Over the past few years, there has been a search for new antifungal agents in response to the inefficacy, adverse effects, and resistance related to the current medications, especially when it comes to skin issues.
Because plants possess their own defense mechanism against fungal pathogens, researchers have been looking at plant-based fungicides as possible alternatives.
A study published in 2005 in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology tested the antifungal activity of dragon’s blood from Croton urucurana. The in vitro study affirmed resin’s traditional use as a wound treatment. The study found that the dragon’s blood resin has antifungal properties that can be used to treat skin infections caused by fungi.
“Croton urucurana has a potential antifungal effect that can be explored for therapeutic advantage as an alternative treatment for dermatophytosis or in conjunction with other antimycotics to allow the use of lower doses avoiding problems such as side effects and or resistance,” the study concluded.
Another 2005 study published in the same journal tested five different types of fungi and found that dragon’s blood was able to inhibit their growth at concentrations ranging from 0.175 to 3.0 mg/ml.
A 2011 study on dragon’s blood from Dracaena cambodiana found that five of the tested compounds within the species were effective against S. aureus bacteria.
S. aureus is a common type of bacteria that is often found on the skin and in the nasal passages of healthy individuals, but it can cause infections when it enters the body through a cut or other opening. It causes a range of illnesses, from minor skin infections to more serious conditions such as pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis.
Some strains of S. aureus are resistant to common antibiotics, which can make infections more difficult to treat.
The study also found that seven of the compounds were effective against MRSA bacteria. MRSA infections can be difficult to treat, as these bacteria have developed resistance to many of the antibiotics that are commonly used to treat bacterial infections.
Symptoms of MRSA infections can range from mild to severe and can include skin infections, pneumonia, and bloodstream infections.
Several studies have confirmed that dragon’s blood may actually speed up wound healing because of its strong anti-inflammatory properties.
In the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial measured wound healing in 60 patients between the ages of 14 and 65. It used a cream based on Croton lechleri resin.
At the end of the trial period, there was a significant difference in wound healing in the group that received the dragon’s blood cream compared to the placebo group.
Researchers noted that they saw significant improvement in wound healing in the dragon’s blood group by just the third day compared to the placebo.
They theorize that because the dragon’s blood resin contains phenolic compounds such as proanthocyanidins and catechin, the inflammation process is shortened.
H. Pylori and Ulcer Treatment
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacteria that causes infection in the stomach and is the main cause of peptic ulcers. Researchers found that two flavonoid compounds in the dragon’s blood from Dracaena cochinchinensis were effective at killing H. Pylori.
A study published in Nutrition Journal in 2010 found that dragon’s blood from Peru, also known as Sangre de Grado, had the highest antioxidant content of all the products in the tested database with an oxygen radical absorption capacity (ORAC) score of 2,897,110.
An ORAC analysis tests how well compounds stop the oxidation caused by harmful substances called peroxy radicals. It measures the total antioxidant capacity of foods, or how well certain foods prevent damage caused by harmful substances.
Foods that have a high ORAC score may protect cells and their components from oxidative damage and help slow the processes associated with aging in both body and brain.
Tips for Buying
Dragon’s blood comes in powder or capsule supplements as well as alcoholic extracts, tinctures, and topical ointments.
You can also make your own topical ointment by mixing dragon’s blood powder with carrier oils such as coconut oil or shea butter.
Always make sure to source your products from reputable and trustworthy companies, as the supplement industry isn’t tightly regulated.
In a recent interview, Matt Roeske, founder of Cultivate Elevate, said that when it comes to purchasing dragon’s blood products, “you want to make sure it is not altered with any synthetic fillers, gums, or preservatives. Always make sure your dragon’s blood is sustainably sourced and heavy metal tested.”