Health Benefits of Pau d’arco | Uses and Side Effects

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Health Benefits of Pau d'arco | Uses and Side Effects

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Health Benefits of Pau D'arco Tea

Also known as: Tabebuia avellanedae, Taheebo, Ipe Roxo, Lapacho, Pink Trumpet Tree, Tajibo, Tajibo Morado, Tajy Pyta, Pink Ipê, Ipê Roxo, Pink Lapacho

Pau d‘arco is a broad-leaf, evergreen tree with hard wood that thrives in the warmth of Central and South America and can be found in the Amazon Rainforest.

The tree itself can grow as tall as 125 feet and has pink-puce flowers, (similar to that of a cherry blossom).

The tree’s wood is very hard, making it extremely resistant to decay and disease and it is the inner bark of the tree that is used medicinally. Indigenous people also use its hard bark to make bows.

Due to the increasing demand of Pau d‘arco, it is an endangered species of tree. 

Pau d'arco Tree
Pau d'arco Tree - Health Benefits of Pau d'arco

The Science

There are two active chemicals within the inner bark of the Pau d‘arco, known as naphthoquinones. These are lapachol and beta-lapachone. They also contain significant amounts of the antioxidant quercetin.

After undergoing a series of lab tests, as well as displaying anti-inflammatory properties, scientists proved that these chemicals could kill some parasites, fungi, bacteria and viruses.

Their anti-inflammatory properties mean that Pau d’arco extract may be effective against diseases such as osteoarthritis, but this has not been tested on humans as the size of the high doses required are likely to have dangerous, toxic side effects.

18 Uses of Pau d’arco

In its Native Country of South America, it has been used by tribes on the human body for many years as a traditional medicine, mainly for the treatment of stomach, skin, and inflammatory conditions.

In recent years, with the use of modern research, Pau d’arco is used as a great antimicrobial, especially anti-candida.

As a supplement, it’s often marketed to reduce inflammation and promote weight loss.

This herb, however, has far more healing potential and is now used to treat a wide range of conditions, (some of which date back to 1873!) these include;

  • Arthritis
  • Prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland)
  • Pain (joint and general)
  • Fever
  • Boils
  • Stomach Ulcers
  • Inflammatory conditions 
  • Dysentery 
  • Diabetes
  • Stomach inflammation (Gastritis)
  • Liver ailments
  • Asthma
  • Yeast Infections
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Bronchitis
  • Hernias
  • Boils
  • Wounds

Pau d‘arco is also 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, (e.g. schistosomiasis)
  • Bacterial infections, (e.g. brucellosis)
  • Various Cancers
Pau d'arco Tree
Inner Bark of the Pau d'arco - Health Benefits of Pau d'arco

Pau d’arco Against Cancer

A series of test tube and animal studies have been carried out to establish how effective Pau d‘arco can be against cancer cells

In some tests, it did in fact reduce the amount of cancer cells present, but to replicate this success in humans, the quantities required would be toxic. 

This is a common theme with the chemicals, as was discovered during tests carried out to kill viruses and bacteria, which also confirmed that correct levels required would be toxic.

Pau d’arco as an Antibacterial / Antifungal Herb

Research suggests that Pau d’arco extract has antibacterial and antifungal properties. 

The exact mechanism remains unknown, but Pau d’arco is considered to contain the processes bacteria and fungi required to produce energy and oxygen. For this reason Pau d’arco can be used to detox candida albicans and fungal infections naturally.

Various studies have shown the inner bark of Tabebuia avellanedae gives protection against numerous disease-causing organisms and may also prevent the growth of infectious bacteria in the digestive system.

Beta-lapachone has been found to inhibit and treat methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus  strains aureus (MRSA), an infection that is extremely difficult to regulate. 

In another study, Pau d’arco extract inhibited the growth of a bacteria that grows in your digestive tract (Helicobacter pylori) and tends to attack your stomach lining, causing ulcers. 

Pau d’arco for Weight Loss

Studies have shown the active compounds from the inner bark extract inhibiting pancreatic lipase, an enzyme that helps your body digest/absorb dietary fat. 

By blocking this enzyme it will reduce the digestion of fat, resulting in fewer absorbable calories. 

In a particular 16-week study, mice that were given pau d’arco extract, lost considerably more weight than those on a placebo — despite no changes in food intake. Similarly, in a trial involving mice fed a high-fat diet, the extract protected against increases in body weight.

Pau d’arco as an Anti-inflammatory

Inflammation is how the body responds naturally to injury and Pau d’arco extract has also been shown to reduce and (in some cases), prevent this.

Lower levels of inflammation are beneficial for the body but chronic inflammation can lead to diseases, such as obesity, hypertension and heart disease.

Some test-tube and animal studies demonstrated that Pau d’arco extract inhibited the release of specific chemicals that trigger an inflammatory response in the body, while other studies found it could block the production of compounds prevalent in many chronic inflammatory diseases.

Because of this, Pau d’arco may help treat inflammatory conditions like osteoarthritis, which causes swelling, pain, and stiffness in the joints.

Available Forms

Pau d ‘arco is available in a number of different forms and can be bought online and over the counter in many convenience health and drug stores.

Dried Tea:

Pau d ‘arco bark tea is made up of the dried bark, which is possibly the most natural form of intake available. 

The chemicals within the bark don’t tend to dissolve well in water, meaning less of the active ingredient is ingested. This makes it a less sought after form.


This herbal supplement form Pau d ‘arco trees is very readily available, coming in bottles that contain multiple tablets. The dosage of inner bark in each tablet can commonly be found at either 500mg or 1,000mg.

Their transportable, easily consumable nature, makes tablets a very popular form of the natural herbal remedy.  


This is the active constituents of the Tabebuia Avellanedae tree extracted into ethanol (medical alcohol). 

This method maintains and preserves the naturally-occurring constituents found in the plant and it extends the shelf life for up to 4 years. 

All you need to do is add the droplets to any drink, and swallow! 

Pau d'arco
Health Benefits of Pau d'arco

Possible Side Effects

Natural herbal medicine and remedies have been sought after and consumed by humans since the dawn of time and the modern era is certainly no different. 

That said, the modern use of herbs, folk medicine and dietary supplements will differ in the size of dosage and there is always the possibility that it can create reactions in certain individuals, perhaps due to excessive consumption, other medication or diet. 

Recommended doses are unlikely to cause severe side effects, but exceeding / higher doses can result in;

  • Anaemia
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dizziness
  • Bleeding 
  • Vomiting 

Infants, children and pregnant/nursing women should not consume Pau d ‘arco and adults should seek advice from a medical professional or health care provider, before looking to take it themselves.

Hopefully you have learnt everything you needed to know about Pau d’arco and we hope you achieve all of the health benefits you are hoping to!

For more on wellness and herbal remedies from around the world, why not take a look at our post ‘How to take Kratom the right way | A users Guide for the Best ways to take Kratom’.


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