The Pau D’Arco tree grows in the rain forests of Brazil. Unlike other trees in its midst, pau D’Arco does not develop fungus growth, even though it grows in the most lush tropical rainforests in the world. Pau D’Arco contains a chemical called lapachol, which may account for the herb’s traditional use in strengthening and supporting the immune system.
Tabebuia is a Neotropical genus of about 100 species in the tribe Tecomeae of the family Bignoniaceae. The species range from northern Mexico and southern Florida south to northern Argentina, including the Caribbean islands of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic), Haiti and Cuba. The generic name is derived from words used for the trees by the indigenous peoples of Brazil.
Pau D’Arco has a long and well-documented history of use by the indigenous peoples of the rainforest. Indications imply that its use may actually predate the Incas. Throughout South America, tribes living thousands of miles apart have employed it for the same medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. Several Indian tribes of the rainforest have used pau D’Arco wood for centuries to make their hunting bows; their common names for the tree mean “bow stick” and “bow stem.” The Guarani and Tupi Indians call the tree tajy, which means “to have strength and vigor.” They use the bark to treat many different conditions and as a tonic for the same strength and vigor it puts into their bows. 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.
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, gastrointestinal problems, Candida and yeast infections, 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, anti-parasitic, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and laxative, as well as to have anti-cancerous 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. The recorded uses in European herbal medicine systems reveal that it is used in much the same way as in the United States, and for the same conditions.
It is also known as lapacho, and can reach a height of more than 100 feet, with extremely hard wood and distinct, pink-purplish flowers. The inner bark of the tree is used in herbal remedies.
Traditionally, pau D’Arco has been used to treat conditions ranging from Arthritis and inflammation to ulcers, skin lesions, and some types of cancer. The two primary active ingredients in pau D’Arco are lapachol and beta-lapachone; laboratory studies have shown that these chemicals exhibit anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Pau D’Arco is also used to treat some wounds and infections.