|| Tabebuia avellanedae
|| LaPacho, Ipe Roxo, Taheboo tree
Pau d'arco, or the inner bark of the Tabebuia avellanedae tree, is
native to Brazil, where it is used traditionally to treat a wide range of
conditions including pain, arthritis, inflammation of the prostate gland
(prostatitis), fever, dysentery, boils and ulcers, and various cancers.
Preliminary laboratory research examining the properties of pau d'arco is
beginning to suggest that the traditional uses may have scientific merit. Such
laboratory studies have shown that pau d'arco has pain killing, diuretic,
anti-inflammatory, anti-infectious, anti-psoriatic, and anti-cancer abilities.
Taking this early data, combined with information collected about traditional
uses, herbalists may recommend pau d'arco to treat or prevent a number of
conditions, including candidiasis (a yeast infection of the vaginal or oral
areas), herpes simplex virus, influenza, parasitic diseases such as
schistosomiasis, bacterial infections such as brucellosis, and inflammation of
the cervix (cervicitis) or the vagina (vaginitis). Pau d'arco may also reduce
inflammation of the joints associated with arthritis.
The Tabebuia evergreen tree grows in the warm parts of Central and
South America. Most pau d'arco comes from a tree in the Amazon rain forest
called Tabebuia avellanedae. It is a broad-leaf evergreen that grows to a
height of 125 feet and is distinguished by pink to violet colored flowers. Its
extremely hard wood makes it resistant to disease and decay. In recent years,
however, there has been an increasing demand for pau d'arco and, as a result,
the trees are in danger of becoming extinct.
|What's It Made Of?|
Most of the chemical research on pau d'arco has been done on the wood and not
the bark, although it is in fact the inner bark that has been used traditionally
for medicinal purposes. In addition, there are a variety of Tabebuia
species that have been tested for anti-infectious and anti-cancer properties,
not only avellanedae. Therefore, it is difficult to know at this point
what findings apply specifically to pau d'arco and which apply to other species
of this plant. The heartwood of Tabebuia avellanedae contains chemical
compounds called naphthoquinones such as lapachol, as well as significant
amounts of the antioxidant quercetin.
Pau d'arco is sold as dried bark tea, alcohol extract, and nonalcohol
(usually glycerin) extract. Most pau d'arco products are not standardized,
however, therefore, it is not possible to determine whether or not they contain
a consistent or appropriate amount of these active substances.
Some herbal teas that are labeled with pau d'arco are not actually made from
Tabebuia trees. It is important to carefully read the label to make sure
that the product actually contains Tabebuia avellanedae as an ingredient.
|How to Take It|
There are no known scientific reports on the pediatric use of pau d'arco.
Therefore, this herb is not currently recommended for children.
- Decoction (tea): Using 1 tsp of pau d'arco loose dried bark per 1 cup
water, boil for 5 to 15 minutes. Drink 1 cup of this tea two to eight times a
- Extract: Follow the directions on the product label.
- Tincture (1:5): Solution made from herb and alcohol, or herb, alcohol,
and water—take 20 to 30 drops, two to three times per
- Capsules: 1,000 mg three times per day.
The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and
treating disease. Herbs, however, contain active substances that can trigger
side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For
these reasons, herbs should be taken with care, under the supervision of a
practitioner knowledgeable in the field of botanical medicine.
It is generally safe to drink pau d'arco tea and take pau d'arco extract at
the recommended dosages. Too much, however, may cause nausea.
There are no reports in the scientific literature to suggest that pau d'arco
interacts with any conventional medications.
Anesini C, Perez C. Screening of plants used in Argentine folk medicine for
antimicrobial activity. J Ethnopharmacol.
Colman de Saizarbitoria T, Anderson JE, Alfonso D, McLaughlin JL.Bioactive
furonaphtoquinones from Tabebuia barbata (Bignoniaceae). Acta Cient
Dinnen RD, Ebisuzaki K. The search for novel anticancer agents: a
differentiation-based assay and analysis of a folklore product. Anticancer
Kinghorn AD, Balandrin MA, eds. American Chemical Symposium Series. Human
Medicinal Agents from Plants. Washington, DC: American Chemical Society;
Miranda FG, Vilar JC, Alves IA, Cavalcanti SC, Antoniolli AR. Antinociceptive
and antiedematogenic properties and acute toxicity of Tabebuia
avellanedae Lor. ex Griseb. inner bark aqueous extract. BMC
Muller K, Sellmer A, Wiegrebe W. Potential antipsoriatic agents:
lapacho compounds as potent inhibitors of HaCaT cell growth. J Nat Prod.
Pinto CN, Dantas AP, De Moura KC, et al. Chemical reactivity studies with
naphthoquinones from Tabebuia with anti-trypanosomal efficacy.
Pizzorno JE, Murray MT. Textbook of Natural Medicine. New York:
Churchill Livingstone; 1999:967-974.
Portillo A, Vila R, Freixa B, Adzet T, Canigueral S. Antifungal activity of
Paraguayan plants used in traditional medicine. J Ethnopharmacol
Robbers JE, Tyler VE. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of
Phytomedicinals. New York, NY: The Haworth Herbal Press; 1999:246-247.
Ueda S, Umemura T, Dohguchi K, et al. Production of anti-tumour-promoting
furanonaphthoquinones in Tabebuia avellanedae cell cultures.
|Review Date: April 2002|
|Reviewed By: Participants in the review process include: Jacqueline A. Hart, MD,
Department of Internal Medicine, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Harvard University
and Senior Medical Editor Integrative Medicine, Boston, MA; Gary Kracoff, RPh
(Pediatric Dosing section February 2001), Johnson Drugs, Natick, MA; Steven
Ottariono, RPh (Pediatric Dosing section February 2001), Veteran's
Administrative Hospital, Londonderry, NH; R. Lynn Shumake, PD, Director,
Alternative Medicine Apothecary, Blue Mountain Apothecary & Healing Arts,
University of Maryland Medical Center, Glenwood, MD; David Winston, Herbalist
(April 1999), Herbalist and Alchemist, Inc., Washington, NJ; Tom Wolfe, P.AHG
(April 1999), Smile Herb Shop, College Park, MD. All interaction sections have
also been reviewed by a team of experts including Joseph Lamb, MD (July 2000),
The Integrative Medicine Works, Alexandria, VA;Enrico Liva, ND, RPh (August
2000), Vital Nutrients, Middletown, CT; Brian T Sanderoff, PD, BS in Pharmacy
(March 2000), Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Maryland School of
Pharmacy; President, Your Prescription for Health, Owings Mills, MD; Ira Zunin,
MD, MPH, MBA (July 2000), President and Chairman, Hawaii State Consortium for
Integrative Medicine, Honolulu, HI.|
Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc
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