Pau D'Arco

Tabebuia avellanedae

Other Names - Tabebuia avellanedae, T. ipe, T. nicaraguensis, T. schunkeuigoi, T. serratifolia, T. altissima, T. palmeri, Gelseminum avellanedae, Handroanthus avellanedae, H. impetiginosus, Tecoma adenophylla, Tecoma avellanedae, Tecoma eximia, Tecoma impetiginosa, Tecoma integra, Tecoma ipe

Origin - South America

Part of the plant used - Inner bark

Description - Pau d’arco is a huge canopy tree native to the Amazon rainforest and other tropical parts of South and Latin America. It grows to 30 m high and the base of the tree can be 2–3 m in diameter. The Tabebuia genus includes about 100 species of large, flowering trees  Pau d'arco is an ancient Brazilian remedy taken from the inner bark of lapacho trees of the species, purple Tabebuia avellanedae. The bark is boiled for tea. It is used in some hospitals in South America with great success on cancer patients. It is a powerful antibiotic with virus-killing properties. Pau d’arco is also known as Taheebo, an Indian name for inner bark of red lapacho tree found in the Andes Mountains. Pau d’arco is high in iron, which aids in the proper assimilation of nutrients, and the elimination of wastes. It is a detoxifier. Pau d’arco is said to contain compounds which seem to attack the cause of disease. It puts the body in a defensive state to give it the energy needed to defend itself and to help resist disease. A bitter herb that contains a natural antibacterial agent, it has a healing effect and cleanses the blood. Good for smoker’s cough, warts, all types of infection, diabetes, ulcers, rheumatism, allergies, tumors, AIDS and liver disease. Especially good for pain connected with cancer.

Historical Uses:

Pharmacology - The inner bark contains natural antibacterial and antifungal agents. Tabebuia avellanedae is a tree from the Bignoniaceae family. Commonly know as "pau d'arco" in Brazil, its inner bark is used as analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antineoplasic and diuretic at the Brazilian northeast. Its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antineoplasic activities are cited in the literature as promoted by saponines, flavonoides, cumarines, and natural antibiotics, such as the lapachol and its derivatives encountered on its constituents. The antifungal activity of aqueous, dichloromethane and methanol extracts from T. avellanedae and other 13 Paraguayan plants were accessed by Portillo et al. The aqueous and methanol extracts of T. avellanedae showed the highest antifungal activity. Phytochemical studies revealed the presence of naphthoquinones, anthraquinones and quinoid compounds in T. avellanedae, although lapachol, previously cited as anti-inflammatory, was not detected in its aqueous extract.

Medicinal Uses - Pau d'arco is recorded to be used by forest inhabitants throughout the Amazon for malaria, anemia, colitis, respiratory problems, colds, cough, flu, fungal infections, fever, arthritis and rheumatism, snakebite, poor circulation, boils, syphilis, and cancer. People with Candida overgrowths have found pau d’arco tea to be beneficial in controlling the growth. In modern herbal medicine, pau d'arco is considered to be analgesic, antioxidant, antiparasitic, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and laxative, as well as to have anticancerous properties. It is used for fevers, infections, colds, flu, syphilis, urinary tract infections, cancer, respiratory problems, skin ulcerations, boils, dysentery, gastrointestinal problems of all kinds, arthritis, prostatitis, and circulation disturbances. Pau d'arco also is employed in herbal medicine systems in the United States for lupus, diabetes, ulcers, leukemia, allergies, liver disease, Hodgkin's disease, osteomyelitis, Parkinson's disease, and psoriasis, and is a popular natural remedy for candida and yeast infections.

Dosages - from the bark and heartwood.

Toxicity, Cautions & Contraindications - High amounts (several grams daily over several days) of lapachol can cause uncontrolled bleeding, nausea, and vomiting. Use of the whole bark is typically safer than isolated lapachol—side effects have included nausea and gastrointestinal upset. Pregnant or breast-feeding women should avoid use of pau d’arco.

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