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Pau d’arco is an herb made from the inner bark of Tabebuia trees (Tabebuia impetiginosa and Tabebuia avellanedae), which grow in the Amazon rainforest. Known for their bright pink-purple flowers, Tabebuia trees can grow up to 125 feet tall. Also called taheebo or lapacho, this herbal remedy is best known as a treatment for candida, but it has long been used by indigenous peoples as a treatment for stomach, skin, and inflammatory conditions. Here are five reasons to supplement with this ancient herb:
1. It Has Antibacterial Properties
Research suggests that the bark has antibacterial and antifungal properties. While its exact mechanism of healing is unknown, pau d’arco is thought to inhibit the processes that bacteria and fungi need to produce energy. Several compounds found in the plant’s inner bark are thought responsible for its beneficial health effects. For example, a study in Phytomedicine found that beta-lapachone (a chemical in pau d’arco) helps inhibit and treat methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The bark was also shown to help slow the growth of Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium associated with stomach ulcers. And another study published in Phytotherapy Research found that the herb significantly accelerates healing of gastric ulcers in rats.
2. It Helps Fight Candida
Pau d’arco is most widely used to treat candida, a type of yeast, and a 2010 study confirmed this strong antiyeast activity. While the exact mechanism is unknown, the herb is thought to inhibit the processes bacteria and fungi need to produce energy. In one paper, scientists confirmed that, from a collection of 14 tropical antifungal plants, pau d’arco proved to be the most potent medicinally.
3. It’s Anti-Inflammatory
Research shows that pau d’arco inhibits the release of specific chemicals that trigger an inflammatory response in the body. A 2012 study showed that the herb blocked inflammatory pain by 30–50 percent compared to a placebo. A study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology reported that a tea made from the bark blocked several inflammatory chemicals. The study’s authors determined that pau d’arco may work by suppressing the production of inflammatory prostaglandins.
Other research has confirmed these anti-inflammatory capabilities. A 2017 study looked at the anti-inflammatory polyphenols in the bark and concluded that they inhibited both cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and COX-1 enzymes, the main culprits behind many inflammatory symptoms. In the same year, pau d’arco was found to benefit osteoarthritis. The herb is rich in quercetin, a flavonoid popular with naturopathic doctors to quell inflammation related to allergies and other conditions.
4. It May Boost Weight Loss
This multipurpose herb may also aid weight loss. In one 16-week study, mice fed the herb lost significantly more weight than those given a placebo. Part of the effect may be from a laxative action, as pau d’arco contains anthraquinones, the same type of laxative constituents as senna and aloe. A 2014 experiment indicated that pau d’arco attenuates increase in body weight and fatty liver from a high-fat diet.
5. It Combats Fatigue
Indigenous healers in South America have traditionally used this herb for a wide variety of other conditions, including fatigue. A 2018 experiment found that a single dose of a polyphenol from the bark increased endurance. And a paper from 2019 indicated that pau d’arco helped protect nerves in Parkinson’s disease, which is often associated with fatigue.
How to Take Pau d’Arco
Pau d’arco extract is available in capsule, tincture, and powder forms, and the chopped bark can be used to make tea. Traditionally, 10–15 grams of the bark is simmered in water for 15 minutes and consumed as a tea 3 times per day, but higher doses are often used in natural medicine treatments. You can also find the herb in tea at a health food store. As a tea, it has a pleasant, slightly sweet taste.
Rich in Vitamins & Minerals
Pau d’Arco contains the following essential nutrients:
- Vitamins A, B, and C