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Creosote Medicine

creosote-flower
A creosote flower. (Photo by Megan Wilde)

By Jack Copeland

If the deserts of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico were in the pharmacology business, then creosote would be their perennial best seller. The therapeutic applications for this greasy, smelly, tenacious desert dweller would make any biotech CEO green with envy. Traditional healers have used creosote to treat over 40 human maladies, from acne to venereal disease. What are its medicinal properties? And why is it such a pharmacological trove?