Pau d Arco

Pau d Arco

Common Name

Standardized: pau d'arco
Other: ipe roxo, lapacho, taheebo

Botanical Name

Tabebuia impetiginosa (Mart. ex DC.) Standl.
Plant Family: Bignoniaceae


Tabebuia avellanedae, Tabebuia heptaphylla, Tecoma impetiginosa


One of the best known, but least understood, herbs from the Amazon Rainforest, pau d'arco is a key ingredient in the tribal medicine chest. The pau d'arco tree is a huge canopy tree that grows up to 125 feet high, with pink to violet colored flowers. Its history of use is thought to go back to the Incas, and several tribes have been using it to make bows for centuries. Several native names in fact mean "bow stick" or "bow stem".

The Pau d’arco tree (Tabebuia avellanedae) is a large evergreen tree with purple flowers, native to the Amazonian rainforest and South America. Traditional healers make tea from the inner bark of the tree, which is known as Taheebo or Lapacho. The tea can be consumed as a drink, or used on the skin. Pau d’arco use probably predates the Incas [1+].

Pau d’arco received a lot of medical and scientific attention in the 60s. The Brazilian press published sensational stories about it, and claims about a “miraculous cancer cure” started to spread. This attracted researchers from all over to world to investigate what’s so special about this Amazonian tree and its extracts. It even attracted the attention of the United States National Cancer Institute.

Scientists then discovered that Pau d’arco has two main cancer-fighting and active compounds – lapachol and beta-lapachone – named after the traditional preparation [1+].

The bark extract contains many other active compounds that are now being explored for their antibacterial properties [2].

Most of the studies, however, were only done on animal or cells. And while there are various anecdotal reports about its benefits in humans, no clinical studies have been carried out.

Parts Used

Inner bark.

Typical Preparations

Tea, tincture or encapsulation. Like cat's claw, pau d'arco tincture should be taken in water with a little lemon juice so tannins can be absorbed through the colon.


The scientific study of pau d'arco is still very preliminary.


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, 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, 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.

Health Benefits of Pau D’Arco

  • Fights Cancer
  1. breast,
  2. prostate,
  3. leukemia cancer cells
  • Boost Weight Loss
  • Pain and Inflammation
    Allergies and Th2 Dominance
  • Eczema
  • Protect the Brain
  • Bacterial and Yeast Infections
  • Antioxidant
  • Boost Longevity


Specific: No known precautions.
General: We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.

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