The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

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Pau D’arco

Scientific Names

  • Tabebuia avellanedae
  • Tecoma ocheracea
  • Tecoma ipe
  • Tabebuia cassinoide
  • Bigniaceae family (trumpet creepers)

Common Names

  • Taheebo
  • LaPacho morado
  • Lapacho Colorado
  • Ipe Roxo
  • Trumpet Bush

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Parts Usually Used

The wood or inner bark

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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

The pau d’arco tree grows in the warm parts of Central and South America. It is a broad leaf evergreen that grows to a height of 125 feet and has pink-to-violet colored flowers. The tree’s extremely hard wood makes it resistant to disease and decay. The inner bark of the tree is used medicinally. In recent years there has been an increasing demand for pau d’arco, causing the trees to become endangered.
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Where Found

Native to South and Central America
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Medicinal Properties

In lab tests, these chemicals killed some bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites. They also have anti-inflammatory properties, and may be effective against diseases such as osteoarthritis. But no one knows whether they will have the same effects in humans, and the dose required would have severe, toxic side effects.

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Biochemical Information

Contains naphthoquinones: lapachol and beta-lapachone. It also contains significant amounts of the antioxidant quercetin.

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Pau d’arco has been used to treat a wide range of conditions, including pain, arthritis, inflammation of the prostate gland (prostatitis), fever, dysentery, boils and ulcers, Epstein-Barr virus, and various cancers. As early as 1873, there were reported medicinal uses of pau d’arco.

Pau d’arco is sometimes used for the following conditions, although there is no evidence it works:

  • Candidiasis (a vaginal or oral yeast infection)
  • Herpes simplex virus
  • Influenza
  • Parasitic diseases, such as schistosomiasis
  • Bacterial infections, such as brucellosis
  • Cancer

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Formulas or Dosages

This herb is not currently recommended for children.

Adults: the usual form of administration is as a decoction. The standard dose is 1 cup of decocted bark two to eight times/day. The decoction is made by boiling 1 tsp of bark for each cup of water for 5-15 min.

Capsule in 500 mg – 2 caps. two to three times daily.

Fluid Extract 1-2 ml per serving three times daily (inner bark extract)

Tincture (1:5) solution made from herb and alcohol, or herb, alcohol and water, take 20 to 30 drops, two to three times a day.

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How Sold

Pau d’arco is sold as tablets, dried bark tea, and tincture (which may contain alcohol). The chemicals that give pau d’arco its medicinal effects don’t dissolve well in water, so a tea is not recommended.
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Test tube and animal studies have looked at whether pau d’arco has any effect on cancer. These tests have shown mixed results. Even in studies where pau d’arco did reduce the number of cancer cells, the amounts used would be toxic to humans. The same is true of some of the doses that might be needed to kill bacteria or viruses. For this reason, you should take pau d’arco only under your health care provider’s supervision.

At recommended doses, side effects are uncommon but may include anemia, nausea, diarrhea, and dizziness.

High doses can cause uncontrolled bleeding and vomiting.

Pau d’arco may affect the blood’s ability to clot, and could interfere with blood-thinning drugs, including:

  • Warfarin (Coumadin)
  • Clopidogrel (Plavix)
  • Aspirin

Pregnant and nursing women should not take pau d’arco.

Most pau d’arco products are not standardized, so it is hard to determine whether or not they contain a safe amount of these active substances. It is important to read the label carefully to make sure that the product actually contains Tabebuia avellanedae as an ingredient.

DO NOT give pau d’arco to infants or children.

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Resource Links

Medical Medium Blog: Epstein-Barr Virus

Herbs That Fight Viruses

Penn State Hershey: Pau d’arco

University of Clorado Denver: Pau d’Arco

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Pau D’arco

Kaiser Permanente: Pau D’arco

Wikipedia: Tabebuia

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