Herbal Supplements
Pau Díarco: a Tropical Remedy

Biological Description

Pau d’arco is a common name for Tabebuia impetiginosa – a member of the large family of Bignoniaceae, which includes approximately 100 species that possess only minor differences in the looks (for example, color of the flowers).

Tabebuia is a large tropical evergreen tree (up to 150 feet tall, with the crown reaching 6 feet in diameter). Specie impetiginosa has large purple, pink, or violet flowers, which bloom forming dense clusters. The fruit of the tree is a pod (up to 20m inches long) with multiple seeds. The leaves are either complex or palmately compound with 3-7 leaflets, growing in opposite pairs.

Pau d’arco is mostly used to name the bark of the tree, which is incredibly hard and resistant to disease-provoking organisms. For this reason the inner bark of the tree was used medicinally since ancient times by Incas, Caribbean herbalists, and Brazilian healers.


Pau d’arco is native to the Amazon rainforest in South America. It is said to originate from the low-lying areas around Brazil and Paraguay. These days the tree also grows at the high elevations in the mountainous regions around the continent.

Although this tropical is a valuable medicinal source, it is not usually cultivated; the bark is taken from the abundantly growing trees.

Parts Used

The inner bark of the trumpet tree, which is one of the common names of Tabebuia impetiginosa, is used nowadays by the traditional herbal healers, as it had been for hundreds of years. The bark is usually dried, shredded, and boiled to make brownish tea, which is said to have multiple health benefits for the human body.


Pills, capsules, alcohol and non-alcohol extracts, salves, powder and teas – a large number of available market forms is explained by the popularity of the remedy and great interest of both users and scholars to its possible health benefits and rates of effectiveness.


Lapachol – this is the key ingredient of Pau d’arco, which is believed to possess healing abilities and promote health benefits in humans. This component is said to have antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral power. It shows promises in the treatment of malaria and certain types of cancer.

At the same time, some scholars state that health benefits of Pau d’arco can be obtained only from the whole set of chemicals present in the bark. For example, beta-lapachone - another naphthaquinone similar to lapachol - and quercetin (which belong to flavonoids) may have the same properties as the above described component. Moreover, scientists state they ensure the positive action of lapachol.

Besides, Pau d’arco has many other components potentially beneficial for the human health. Here may belong glycosides (iridoid, liganan, isocoumarin, etc.), alkaloids, and cyclopentene dialdehydes.

Studies conducted by this time report that the effectiveness of Pau d’arco comes from its ability to kill parasites (viruses, bacteria, and fungi) and cancer cells, to block metastasis, to inhibit certain enzymes that support the growth of germs, and to stimulate the activity of the human immune system by supporting macrophages (cells, which destroy harmful microorganisms).

Pau d’arco is said to be especially effective against Candida Albicans fungus and other vaginal infections.

Health Benefits

Native inhabitants of South America used Pau d’arco for restoring vitality, boosting energy and preserving overall health. Modern herbalists defined more precisely what diseases in particular can be treated with the inner bark of the trumpet tree.

All the conditions, caused by viruses, bacteria, and fungi (flu, cold, yeast infections) can be overwhelmed by Pau d’arco teas. Different skin diseases and wounds, hemorrhoids, arthritis, osteomyelitis – the symptoms of these health disorders are said to be reduced by this herbal remedy as well.

The tree is also known to strengthen the immune system, improving the defense of the body against different harmful invaders, protect cardiovascular system, and support the digestive tract, treating ulcers and promoting digestion.  

Such serious diseases as diabetes and cancer might be treated with Pau d’arco too, herbal healers state.

However, the tree can be toxic provoking side effects and interacting with pharmaceutical drugs and other health supplements; thus, it is highly advisable to consult a specialist prior to taking Pau d’arco preparations.

2010-03-06 14:47:44
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