Pau d’Arco: Benefits, Dosage, and How to Use

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 05/18/2024

Pau d’arco is a potent herb used medicinally for over a millennium to address various health issues, including infections, inflammation, and pain.


Learn about pau d’arco’s benefits, recommended dosages, and practical tips on using this natural remedy to enhance your health and well-being.


Lapacho pau darco tree bark

What is pau d’arco?


Pau d’arco, which means bow tree in Portuguese, refers to the inner bark of several Tabebuia tree species native to Central and South America. The name is also used interchangeably to refer to the tree itself. 


Other common names for pau d'arco include lapacho, taheebo bark, ipe roxo, trumpet tree, divine tree, poui, or lapacho baum.

 

The pau d'arco tree is revered for the medicinal properties of its inner bark, which contains a rich array of bioactive compounds, including lapachol and beta-lapachone.


Historically, pau d’arco has been used to manage various conditions, including allergies, gastrointestinal issues, bacterial and fungal infections, syphilis, malaria, and diabetes.


In addition, this natural remedy is believed to improve memory, relieve pain, and alleviate irritability, depression, and anxiety. 


Watch this video to learn more about pau d'arco's impressive benefits.

The Benefits of Pau d'Arco

6 health benefits of pau d’arco 


Pau d’arco has been extensively researched for its alleged therapeutic qualities.


Here are six potential benefits of using pau d’arco.


1. Reduces inflammation

Pau d'arco can help reduce inflammation due to its high concentrations of naphthoquinones and phenolic compounds.


Naphthoquinones such as lapachol, alpha-lapachone, and beta-lapachone have been found to inhibit inflammatory agents, including prostaglandin E2 and cyclooxygenase-2.


Moreover, phenolic compounds such as acteoside and isoacteoside in pau d’arco can help regulate inflammatory cytokine activity. 


Cytokines are signaling molecules that can trigger and perpetuate inflammation. These compounds also affect various biological pathways involved in gene expression and immune system functions. 


Naphthoquinones and phenolic compounds in pau d'arco synergistically mitigate inflammation and related symptoms such as pain, swelling, fever, redness, and stiffness. This may offer potential therapeutic benefits for inflammatory conditions.


A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology observed the anti-inflammatory effects of pau d'arco in mice. The researchers concluded, "Pau d’arco extract may be developed as a new therapeutic remedy for various inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and atherosclerosis.”


Women with painful menstrual cramps

2. Natural pain relief

Over-the-counter pain medications are among the most widely used drugs globally. However, these pharmaceuticals can cause gastrointestinal and cardiovascular issues, kidney problems, and increased blood pressure.


By reducing the activity of inflammatory cytokines, pau d'arco has been shown to help mitigate the pain associated with menstrual cramps and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis


Pau d'arco offers similar pain-relieving effects as conventional painkillers but with a lower risk of adverse effects, making it a promising and potentially safer natural option for managing pain.


3. Potent antimicrobial remedy  

"Pau d'arco displays potent antibacterial and antifungal activities, making it a potential remedy for microbial conditions such as oral thrush, candidiasis, and certain skin infections,” says Dr. Berg. 


This has been confirmed in a study published in the Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials, showing pau d'arco's potent antibacterial activity in an in vivo dermal irritability analysis. 


The findings revealed that lapachol is particularly effective against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MRSA poses a serious health threat, potentially leading to severe infections, pneumonia, sepsis, or even death if left untreated.


Strong immunity fighting pathogens concept

4. Strengthens immune defenses

A robust immune system is essential for fighting pathogens and maintaining a healthy body. 


Research published in the Arabian Journal of Chemistry found that pau d'arco is a rich source of quercetin, a potent flavonoid known for its immunomodulatory properties.


A study published in Molecules confirms the impressive immune-enhancing properties of Tabebuia impetiginosa extract. 


The authors suggest that pau d'arco helped white blood cells operate more effectively. These cells play a critical role in immunity by destroying harmful microbes.


In addition, ethanol extracts of pau d'arco effectively modulated the activity of T-cells, a type of immune cell involved in the body's adaptive immune response.


By promoting balanced T-cell levels, pau d'arco may help prevent an overactive immune response, which can lead to autoimmune diseases such as celiac disease or rheumatoid arthritis. 


boxing gloves fighting breast cancer

5. Potential anti-cancer properties

Pau d'arco may have potential in cancer prevention. 


A review study published in Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Patents summarizes that naphthoquinones in pau d'arco demonstrated potent anti-cancer effects towards various cancer cell lines.


Another study published in Molecules found that an extract of Tabebuia impetiginosa was able to hinder the growth of several in vitro cancer cells, including breast, lung, cervical, and hepatocellular carcinoma.


Pau d'arco also contains oleic acid, a health-promoting fatty acid found abundantly in olive oil.


According to research published in Cancers, "Oleic acid significantly inhibited cell proliferation and tumor growth in endometrial cancer cells," further highlighting pau d'arco's potential as a natural adjunct to traditional cancer treatment. 


Woman in oversized jeans

6. May support weight loss

A study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine focused on the role of pau d'arco in the prevention and management of obesity.


The researchers found that beta-lapachone administration prevented body weight gain in obese mice by reducing the weight of white adipose tissue, the body's primary site for fat storage.


The study also revealed that beta-lapachone could induce thermogenesis. This process involves the production of heat within the body, which can have implications for energy expenditure and weight management. 


Fresh pau darco bark tea

How to use pau d’arco


Pau d'arco is available in various forms, including dietary supplements, loose powders, liquid bark extracts, topical applications, and teas.


To make pau d’arco tea, steep 1 to 2 teaspoons of pau d'arco bark in eight ounces (240 milliliters) of hot water for about 15 minutes.


The tea has a slightly bitter, earthy taste that can be balanced by adding honey or lemon.


Here are three tips to help you find high-quality pau d'arco products.


1. Research the brand

Choose a brand that has a good reputation for producing high-quality herbal supplements and is transparent about its sourcing and manufacturing processes.


2. Check for third-party testing

Reputable companies often conduct third-party testing of their products to evaluate purity and potency. This ensures the supplement contains the desired compounds and is free from contaminants.


3. Read labels carefully

Check the label to ascertain the product contains 100 percent pure pau d'arco bark and no fillers or additives. The label should also specify the species of Tabebuia tree bark used, as some are more potent than others.



Pau d’arco dosage


In a study published by HHS Public Access, a daily dose of 1050 milligrams of encapsulated Tabebuia avellanedae bark extract was generally safe and well-tolerated in healthy women experiencing menstrual cramping


However, there is no standardized recommended dose, and it's best to consult a healthcare professional before incorporating pau d'arco into your routine to minimize the risk of side effects. 


Young women feeling nauseous

Potential downsides of pau d’arco


Pau d'arco is generally considered safe when used appropriately, but it can cause side effects in some people. Reported adverse effects include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, and indigestion. 


In severe cases, allergic reactions can occur. Individuals with allergies to plants belonging to the Bignoniaceae family should exercise caution and consult with a healthcare professional before using pau d'arco.


Additionally, large doses of pau d’arco have been shown to slow blood clotting, which could lead to excessive bleeding in individuals taking blood thinners or those with blood-related issues.


Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also avoid using pau d’arco due to insufficient safety data.


lavender pau darco tree flowers

Key takeaways


In summary, pau d'arco, derived from the inner bark of the Tabebuia tree, offers numerous potential health advantages due to its rich content of naphthoquinones, phenolic compounds, and antioxidants.


Notable pau d'arco benefits include pain relief, antibacterial and antifungal effects, and immune-enhancing properties while potentially lowering the risk of certain cancers.


While generally safe, pau d'arco may cause side effects and interact with certain medications. Pregnant and nursing women and those with bleeding disorders should consult a healthcare provider before use.



FAQ


1. What’s pau d’arco?

Pau d'arco is an herbal supplement made from the inner bark of the Tabebuia tree, also known as the pau d'arco tree, native to Central and South America. 


This natural remedy contains several therapeutic agents, including naphthoquinones, phenolic compounds, and antioxidants, and is well known for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.


2. What are the benefits of pau d’arco?

Potential effects of pau d'arco include anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and pain-relieving properties that help fight bacterial and fungal infections and support immune function.


Pau d'arco may help manage conditions such as arthritis, menstrual cramps, oral thrush, and candidiasis while potentially lowering the risk of certain types of cancer.


3. Who shouldn’t take pau d’arco?

Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, people with bleeding disorders, and those taking blood thinners should avoid pau d'arco unless approved by their healthcare provider. 


Individuals with known allergies to plants belonging to the Bignoniaceae family should exercise caution and consult a healthcare professional before using pau d'arco.


4. Is pau d’arco an antioxidant?

Pau d'arco contains antioxidants such as quercetin and other flavonoids that may help protect cells against oxidative damage caused by free radicals. 


5. How much pau d’arco should I take?

Dosages can vary, but a study highlighted that 1050 milligrams of pau d’arco daily was generally safe and well-tolerated in healthy women with menstrual cramping. 


However, since there is no standard recommended dose for pau d'arco supplements, it's best to consult a healthcare professional for personalized guidance.


6. What are other names for pau d’arco?

Other common names for pau d'arco include lapacho, taheebo, ipe roxo, pink ipê, pink lapacho, trumpet bush, and trumpet tree. These names may vary depending on the region and different aspects or species of the Tabebuia tree.


7. Can I use the flowers or leaves of the pau d’arco tree? 

Pau d'arco trees produce beautiful flowers. While some sources mention the traditional use of pau d'arco flowers and leaves as natural remedies, there is limited scientific research on their safety and effects on human health.


Certain Tabebuia species can be poisonous, and it's not recommended to consume pau d'arco flowers or leaves unless instructed by a healthcare professional.



Sources


  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18634864/ 

  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16553949/ 

  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1878535221000617#b0920 

  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7571111/#B4-molecules-25-04294 

  5. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13543776.2017.1339792 

  6. https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/20/12/19885

  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10670880/ 

  8. https://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/S0192415X19500423

  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10032363/

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