Pau D’Arco (Tabebuia impetiginosa) contains lapachol, an ancient nutrient that supports the immune system. It is also know as Taheebo, Ipe Roxo, Lapacho, Ipes, Trumpet Bush and others. It is extracted from the inner heartwood of the Lapacho tree found in the high Andes of South America. To reduce some of its mystic, the tree can also be found in Florida, the West Indies, Mexico and Central America.
Analysis of the bark indicates that lapachol has antibiotic, antifungal, immuno-stimulant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Pau d’arco also has a long history in herbal medicine around the world.
In South American herbal medicine, it is considered to be astringent, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, and laxative; it is used to treat ulcers, syphilis, urinary tract infections, psoriasis, gastrointestinal problems, candidiasis, cancer, diabetes, prostatitis, constipation, and allergies. It is used in Brazilian herbal medicine for many conditions including cancer, leukemia, ulcers, diabetes, candida, rheumatism, arthritis, prostatitis, dysentery, stomatitis, and boils.
In North American 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, cancer, respiratory problems, skin ulcerations, boils, dysentery, gastrointestinal problems of all kinds, arthritis, prostatitis, and circulation disturbances.
Pau d’arco also is also 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 remedy for candida and yeast infections.
Its use as a primary therapy in any serious condition should not be considered without further documentation.
A tea of inner bark pieces is made by simmering one ounce in a pint of boiling water. One cup is taken 3 or 4 times daily for acute conditions. In chronic conditions a half cup can be taken 3 or 4 times daily.
For aqueous, fluid or solid extracts consider 1.5 - 2.0gms per day in divided doses or 1-3 tsp. of tincture daily.
Large single dosages of pau d’arco decoctions (more than one cup) may cause gastrointestinal upset and/or nausea. Do not use in high doses unless under the advice of a qualified health practitioner; reduce dosage if nausea occurs.
There have been no reports in the literature of contraindications when a whole-bark decoction or tincture is used. However, lapachol has demonstrated abortifacient properties in animal studies. As there are no studies confirming the safety of traditional bark decoctions used by pregnant women, the use of pau d’arco during pregnancy is not recommended.
Abortifacient: A drug or chemical agent that induces abortion.
Acute: An illness or symptom of sudden onset, which generally has a short duration.
Allergy: Hypersensitivity caused by exposure to a particular antigen (allergen), resulting in an increased reactivity to that antigen on subsequent exposure, sometimes with harmful immunologic consequences.
Analgesic: Agent which relieves pain without causing loss of consciousness.
Anti-inflammatory: Reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms, without directly acting on the cause of inflammation, e.g., glucocorticoids, aspirin.
Antimicrobial: Tending to destroy microbes, hinder their multiplication or growth.
Antioxidant: A chemical compound that slows or prevents oxygen from reacting with other compounds. Some antioxidants have been shown to have cancer-protecting potential because they neutralize free radicals. Examples include vitamins C and E, alpha lipoic acid, beta carotene, the minerals selenium, zinc, and germanium, superoxide dismutase (SOD), coenzyme Q10, catalase, and some amino acids, like cystiene. Other nutrient sources include grape seed extract, curcumin, gingko, green tea, olive leaf, policosanol and pycnogenol.
Antiparasitic: Destructive to parasites.
Antiviral: Any of a number of herbs, drugs or agents capable of destroying viruses or inhibiting their growth or multiplication until the body is capable of destroying the virus itself. Most antiviral agents are members of the antimetabolite family.
Arthritis: Inflammation of a joint, usually accompanied by pain, swelling, and stiffness, and resulting from infection, trauma, degenerative changes, metabolic disturbances, or other causes. It occurs in various forms, such as bacterial arthritis, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis, the most common form, is characterized by a gradual loss of cartilage and often an overgrowth of bone at the joints.
Astringent: Agent causing contraction, especially after topical application.
Cancer: Refers to the various types of malignant neoplasms that contain cells growing out of control and invading adjacent tissues, which may metastasize to distant tissues.
Candidiasis: Infection of the skin or mucous membrane with any species of candida, usually Candida albicans. The infection is usually localized to the skin, nails, mouth, vagina, bronchi, or lungs, but may invade the bloodstream. It is a common inhabitant of the GI tract, only becoming a problem when it multiplies excessively and invades local tissues. Growth is encouraged by a weakened immune system, as in AIDS, or with the prolonged administration of antibiotics. Vaginal symptoms include itching in the genital area, pain when urinating, and a thick odorless vaginal discharge.
Chronic: Usually Chronic illness: Illness extending over a long period of time.
Constipation: Difficult, incomplete, or infrequent evacuation of dry, hardened feces from the bowels.
Decoction: Liquid prepared by boiling plant material in water for a period of time.
Diabetes Mellitus: A disease with increased blood glucose levels due to lack or ineffectiveness of insulin. Diabetes is found in two forms; insulin-dependent diabetes (juvenile-onset) and non-insulin-dependent (adult-onset). Symptoms include increased thirst; increased urination; weight loss in spite of increased appetite; fatigue; nausea; vomiting; frequent infections including bladder, vaginal, and skin; blurred vision; impotence in men; bad breath; cessation of menses; diminished skin fullness. Other symptoms include bleeding gums; ear noise/buzzing; diarrhea; depression; confusion.
Dysentery: An inflammatory disorder of the lower intestinal tract, usually caused by a bacterial, parasitic, or protozoan infection and resulting in pain, fever, and severe diarrhea, often accompanied by the passage of blood and mucous.
Gastrointestinal: Pertaining to the stomach, small and large intestines, colon, rectum, liver, pancreas, and gallbladder.
Gram: (gm): A metric unit of weight, there being approximately 28 grams in one ounce.
Herbs: Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, teas should be made with one teaspoon herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Tinctures may be used singly or in combination as noted. The high doses of single herbs suggested may be best taken as dried extracts (in capsules), although tinctures (60 drops four times per day) and teas (4 to 6 cups per day) may also be used.
Immune System: A complex that protects the body from disease organisms and other foreign bodies. The system includes the humoral immune response and the cell-mediated response. The immune system also protects the body from invasion by making local barriers and inflammation.
Laxative: A substance (food, herb, chemical) that stimulates evacuation of the bowels. Examples include cascara sagrada, senna, castor oil, aloe vera, bisacodyl, phenolphthalein and many others.
Leukemia: Cancer of the lymph glands and bone marrow resulting in overproduction of white blood cells (related to Hodgkin's disease).
Nausea: Symptoms resulting from an inclination to vomit.
Psoriasis: An inherited skin disorder in which there are red patches with thick, dry silvery scales. It is caused by the body making too-many skin cells. Sores may be anywhere on the body but are more common on the arms, scalp, ears, and the pubic area. A swelling of small joints may go along with the skin disease.
Rheumatism: General term applied to conditions of pain, or inability to articulate, various elements of the musculoskeletal system.
Stomatitis: Inflammation of the mucous membrane of the mouth.
Syphilis: A sexually-transmitted disease, with symptoms in the early contagious stages being a sore on the genitalia, a rash, patches of flaking tissue, fever, a sore throat, and sores in the mouth or anus.
Teaspoon: (tsp) Equivalent to 5cc (5ml).
Tincture: An alcohol or water-alcohol solution, usually referring to a preparation from herbal materials.
Ulcer: Lesion on the skin or mucous membrane.
Yeast: A single-cell organism that may cause infection in the mouth, vagina, gastrointestinal tract, and any or all bodily parts. Common yeast infections include candidiasis and thrush.