Botanical: Tabebuia impetiginosa (also known as Tabebuia avellanedae and Tabebuia heptaphylla)
Family: Bignoniaceae (pau d'arco)
Other common names: Taheebo, Lapacho, Bow Wood, Ipe Roxa, Trumpet Tree
The ancient Incas of Peru understood the importance of Pau D'Arco, and today its wonderful benefits are just beginning to surface, especially in the area of immunity enhancement and cell strengthening. Sometimes called the "Miracle Bark from South America," its therapeutic uses are somewhat controversial, but it is considered a powerful antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic, and that's just the beginning!
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Pau D'Arco is an evergreen of the Amazon rain forest, but it is also deciduous when it grows in higher and colder locations. It is a tropical tree, native to South and Central America, and although it grows to a height of one hundred feet, it may start out as a vine. The tree grows in well-drained, fertile soil in sunny, warm, tropical climates. The wood and inner bark are used for medicinal purposes, and the lumber (known as lapacho) is highly valued in cabinetmaking. Pau D'Arco may flower in a number of colors, but the roxa (red, magenta, crimson and violet) varieties are used the most in herbal medicine, and the best quality is said to come from Argentina (where it is used extensively by the Callaway tribe). Pau D'Arco has a long folk history of use in the treatment of infections and cancers, and many South American Indian societies have used it for centuries to treat cancer, infectious diseases and wounds, and to enhance energy and endurance. They also introduced Pau D'Arco to the early Portuguese settlers of Brazil to treat schistosomiasis, a tropical disease brought on by flatworm, and modern science does support those antimicrobial properties. Its ancient and current use in South America as a treatment for malignant diseases (mostly blood and skin) is highly controversial, but the National Cancer Institute does not recognize it as a viable treatment, because the high levels required to be effective may cause many undesirable side effects. Although the Argentine government dispenses the herb free of charge to cancer and leukemia patients, the government of Brazil disavows its efficacy for such treatments. Test tube studies have found that the lapachone content can kill malignant cells by inhibiting an enzyme called “topoisomerase,” and there are hopes that effective anti-cancer drugs may eventually be produced through chemical modification of lapachone. There is much ongoing research on the subject, but there have been wonderful positive reports regarding the herb's antifungal and anti-inflammatory qualities. Pau D'Arco has a high iron content, making it effective in the assimilation of nutrients and elimination of body wastes, and also includes beta-carotene, beta-sitosterol, flavonoids (quercetin), alkaloids (tecomine, hydroxybenzoic acid, and steroidal saponins), barium, iodine, lapachol (a naphthoquinone), beta-lapachone and xyloidine (quinoids), xyloidone (naphthoquinone) and tabebuin (anthroquinone).
Pau D'Arco is reputed to possess significant and potent antiviral and antifungal properties and has been used as an effective treatment against viruses, yeast infections, such as Candida albicans, etc., herpes simplex, flu, gonorrhea, athlete's foot, warts, syphilis, venereal disease and vaginitis. Lapachol and beta-lapachone have demonstrated antibacterial, antifungal (fungistatic) and antimalarial activity.
Thought to be an effective anti-inflammatory and painkiller, Pau D'Arco has been used to reduce pain and inflammation of inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis and rheumatism. It is also believed to ease the temporary discomforts of inflammatory bowel disease and alleviate bowel pain.
Pau D'Arco is thought to promote and maintain normal blood sugar levels, which may be of help in cases of diabetes. It appears to prevent spillover of glucose into the urine and seems to act in the same manner as the prescription drug ingredient, acarbose, by keeping sugar from passing through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream.
Pau D'Arco is considered a mild laxative and diuretic, which also helps to clear toxins from the body. It promotes urine flow and supports urinary tract health, fighting such conditions as cystitis, prostatitis and other urinary infections. The herb is also thought to lower fever.
As a blood cleanser, Pau D'Arco is thought to purify and clear toxins from the blood and multiply the numbers of red corpuscles, which helps to build the blood and may be helpful in combating pernicious anemia and other ailments entailing blood deficiencies.
Pau D'Arco is considered an immune enhancer that is believed to strengthen and stimulate the immune system to produce macrophages, immune cells that engulf and digest bacteria and infectious microbes before they invade cell walls and cause damage to cells and tissue. The herb is said to combat chronic degenerative ailments, increase energy and stamina and has been used as part of a treatment to combat environmentally produced allergies and asthma.
Pau D'Arco is said to protect and promote healthy liver function. It is believed to neutralize poisons that involve the liver and may be helpful in treating hepatitis. Some South American hospitals have used Pau D'Arco on patients to reduce the destructive process that chemotherapy exerts on the liver and kidneys. Chemotherapy has been known to destroy the liver and kidneys, and this may be of great help to patients undergoing such treatments.
Pau D'Arco is thought to be an excellent antibacterial and also support good digestion. In laboratory tests, the active ingredient, lapachol, reverses aspirin-induced irritation of the stomach lining, and may possibly have antibiotic effects on Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium associated with gastritis and peptic ulcer. Its antibiotic properties have also been useful in the treatment of dysentery.
The Naval Medical Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, has found that lapachol is also useful against parasitic infection and may be effective in treating malaria and Chagas disease (blood-borne parasitic infections). Research from the Mayo Clinic indicates that eosinophils (a type of white blood cell in blood and tissues) play an important part in the body's protective response against certain parasites, and although a normal part of your body, when eosinophil numbers increase significantly, problems arise. The fact that Pau D'Arco's is said to increase the numbers of red corpuscles, and its ability to purify and clear toxins from the blood, may validate its role in its use against parasitic infestations, such as malaria and Chagas disease.
Used externally, Pau D'Arco has been used to treat dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, scabies, boils and many other skin infections.
Pregnant and nursing women should not use Pau D'Arco Herbal Supplement, and excess amounts (many times the recommended dosage) may cause nausea, bleeding, vomiting, dizziness and diarrhea. People who take prescription anticancer drugs or those on chemotherapy should not use this herb without consulting with a physician. Because it may induce bleeding, people who take prescription blood thinners (Coumadin, etc.) should not use this herb, nor should it be used prior to surgery.