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Pau D’Arco…. the Revival of an Ancient Herb

By Barbara Bourke (Nutritionist)


Cleansing and detoxing the body is a priority and one of the most fundamental objectives for better health and wellbeing.  

With this in mind Stride into Health is always investigating and seeking out nutritional supplements helping you do to this task in a healthy and most efficient manner.


This lead us to investigate Pau D’ Arco.


Pau’D Arco also known as: Divine Tree; Ipe; Ipe Roxo; Lapacho; Tabebuia Ipe; Taheebo;  Tahuari; Tajy; Trumpet Bark.

Tabebuia impetiginosa (also known as Tabebuia avelanedae, Tabebuia avellanedae or Tabebuia ipe) - this is the most commonly used species for therapeutic purposes.  Most of us know it simply as Pau D’Arco or Taheebo. This medicinal plant has been used for many centuries by the Indio tribes of South America. Its healing power was treasured by the ancient Incas and Aztecs as they knew about the plant great medicinal powers. I accept that what the ancient civilization knew back then is of great value for all of us today.


Various species (yellow or purple flowering trees) are grown in a wide geographical 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

All species belongs to the Bignonia (Bignoniaceae) family.

They are large shrubs or trees growing to 5 to 50 m (16 to 160 ft.) tall depending on the genus. It is a rainforest tree and the inner bark from many species is used for health purposes. It is ground and a tea is made from it, prompting some to nick name it “jungle juice” (1). Its taste is described as sour/bitter (2)

Some varieties are also used for its timber. It is very resistant and durable and used for this reason as a building material and for furniture manufacturing (2)

The Story of Pau’D Arco

Ancient civilization knew the therapeutics of Pau D’Arco long before it came to our attention. However, originally much of the research into Pau D’ Arcos for its uses was conducted in South America. The spread of the potentials of this plant increased during the late 1960s and spread like wildfire throughout the country. Back then it was difficult to analyze the strength of the active ingredients and folks would take it until they experienced a slight rush (1).

 Many of the early studies and anecdotal reports of the healing power of Pau D’ Arco involved stories of successfully treating many different kinds of cancer. Numerous accounts of people being healed emerged from around the country (1). Needless to say that orthodox medicine and the government tried to stop the spread of the healing wonders of this plant. Advocates and practitioners using and spreading news of Pau D’Arco “curing” cancer was soon banned and people threatened to be prosecuted. It took the scientific community some time to realize there might be something to this folk remedy. However, not much was done about and it was banned by the Medical College in 1969.

Pau D’Arco finally reached the USA in 1981 and soon cancer “cures” spread all around the country and Canada.


Today, many of us are rediscovering the great potential of this wonderful plant remedy. In being able to stimulate the immune system lays its power to be helpful for countless ailments from Allergies to Zoster (Shingles or Herpes Zoster).  



Why how and when should we use Pau D’Arco?

Some research and solid practical evidence shows that Pau D’ Arco has been demonstrated to possess great health benefits. Some are listed below, but by no means all inclusive:

  • Destroying and suppressing some types of detrimental bacteria including:  Escherichia coli, Helicobacter pylori, Staphylococcus aureus, 
  • Detrimental Fungi including Candida albican. 
  • May inhibit some types of Viruses and may kill or suppress some types of Intestinal Parasites.
  • Pau D'Arco (tincture) may treat Malaria
  • Immune Stimulant and can be used with success to treat colds, flu, sore throat and is often regarded as a valued plant in alternative cancer treatment.
  • For Infections pain, arthritis, fever, dysentery or as a expectorant.
  • Increases red blood cells
  • Folklore also claims that it alleviates rheumatism and eczema and treats tuberculosis
  • For diabetes as it inhibits the absorption of glucose in the intestines. (1)
  • Most health benefits a due to the active ingredients Lapachol and/or Naphthoquinones content of Pau D’Arco as well as quercetin, and other flavonoids. Click here to see other constituents of Pau D’Arco.


Forms of Pau d Arco

The inner bark of the tree is used.

As with most herbs Pau D’Arco can be taken as a tea, a powder, tinctures or as an extract.

  • As tea, in the case of Pau D’Arco, the loosely coarser inner bark is used. 
  • A powder is ground finer and is stronger/concentrated than the tea and usually prepared the same way. 
  • A tincture is an alcohol extract 
  • An extract powder is obtained from a substance by chemical or mechanical action, as by pressure, distillation, or evaporation. This is the most concentrated form of any herbal substance.


How to use the Pau’D Arco Powder

To make a drink from the powder use a heaped teaspoon in a large cup of water. Bring to boil and let simmer or steep for 5 to 15 minutes; drink 3 cups a day. This means 3 heaped tsp of powder per day which is about 15 g. Don’t drink it too fast; sip it. Powdered Pau D’Arco in capsules or cold water does not work. The powder must simmer or steep for the advised time for the active ingredients from the Pau D’Arco bark to be extracted. When Candida, cancer or other health issues are under control, half this dose would be enough as a longer-term maintenance. You can brew a days or several days supply and leave it in the fridge.

For long term use, as in cases of chronic diseases or in a long term cleaning/detoxification  program I would recommend to rotate different antimicrobials. For this purpose you might use and alternate between Lugol’s Solution, MMS, Olive leaf and Pau D’Arco.


To read about the constituents of Pau D’Arco



Excessive dosages of Pau D'Arco may cause Nausea or Vomiting.

If on blood thinners take caution and check with your doctor for drug and herb interactions.

Pregnant and nursing women should not take Pau D'Arco.




(1) Pau D'Arco: Immune Power from the Rain Forest by Kenneth Johnes. To read about his book  click here

(2) Find more info from Wikipedia Encyclopaedia click here 



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