Tabebuia impetiginosa or Pau d’ Arco is a deciduous tree native to Central and South America. In herbal medicine around the world, the bark and wood of this tree are considered to have properties that are…astringent, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal.
Pau d’ Arco additional properties include: anti-parasitic, antimicrobial, laxative, analgesic, antioxidant, and anti-cancerous.
Now, German scientists have confirmed that extracts of Tabebuia inhibit absorption of dietary fat, and might reduce obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
The German study of Tabebuia was led by Dr. Nils Roos from the Max Rubner Institute. The study showed that a Tabebuia extract reduced blood triglycerides (a harmful byproduct of fat breakdown) in rats that had been fed a fatty meal.
“This result shows the extract may have a potential use in treating obesity,” said Dr. Roos. “However, as coronary heart disease and diabetes have also been shown to be associated with higher triglyceride levels after eating, we believe a food-supplement based on Tabebuia could reduce the incidence of these diseases, as well.”
Pau d’ Arco The “Mother Tree” of Traditional Remedies for Strength and Vigor
Tabebuia or Pau d’ Arco has a long and well-documented history of medicinal use by the tribes of the rainforest. The Guarani and Tupi Indians call the Tabebuia tree tajy, meaning “to have strength and vigor.”
Traditional remedies drawn from Tabebuia are known by various names including Pau d’arco, lepacho, and pink ipê, among others, and contain naturally occurring and powerful phytochemicals including lapachol (a therapeutic, healing, naphthoquinone).
Throughout the Amazon, Tabebuia extracts have been used to treat conditions such as…
• Respiratory problems
• Colds, cough, and flu
• Fungal infections
• Arthritis and rheumatism
• Poor circulation
In Europe and the United States, Tabebuia-based supplements are most commonly known as Pau d’ Arco, and are used in herbal medicine to treat…
- Liver disease
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Yeast infections
What About Reports that Pau d’ Arco Does Not Work? Quality Matters!
Recent years have brought a parade of reports that suggest Tabebuia (or Pau d’arco) may not work as claimed. However, it’s likely not Pau d’arco at fault, but phony and low-quality supplements.
In the book The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs, Leslie Taylor warns consumers of shockingly deceptive practices with regard to production of this particular supplement. The best-recognized active substances in Tabebuia, lapachol and quinoids, are both woefully lacking in many or even most commercially available Pau d’arco supplements.
Leslie Taylor writes:
Most of the commercially available products…contain the inner and outer bark of the tree—which is stripped off at sawmills when the heartwood is milled into lumber for construction materials.
Additionally…varying species of Pau d’ Arco bark [are] being sold as herbal products—[with] diminished quality.
Finally, many consumers and practitioners are unaware that, for the best results when extracting these particular active chemicals (even after obtaining the correct species), the bark and/or wood must be boiled at least 8 – 10 minutes—rather than brewed as a simple tea or infusion (lapachol and the other quinoids are not very water soluble).
It is therefore not surprising that consumers and practitioners are experiencing spotty results with commercially available Pau d’arco products.
Choosing a Genuine and Potent Pau d’ Arco Supplement
Taylor advises consumers to “find a reliable source for this important medicinal plant from the rainforest” and to look for “standardized extracts of Pau d’arco” that guarantee the amount of lapachol and/or quinoids.
Although this tree’s natural wood and bark are quite effective when the correct species is used and prepared properly, Taylor says that “the new standardized extracts may be the safer (although more expensive)” for those without the time and specialized knowledge to research safe, reputable suppliers of wood and bark.
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