Pau dArco: Herbal Supplement for Inflammation and Other Health Conditions

Pau dArco: Herbal Supplement for Inflammation and Other Health Conditions

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  1. Pau d’arco has been used for medicinal purposes since the time of the Incas and is still used today for a wide variety of health issues.  This herbal remedy has been touted as a cure-all for inflammation, infection and even some forms of cancer.  Although most studies on the health benefits of pau d’arco have been found to be inconclusive, this herbal product is used in many countries today as a treatment for a variety of health concerns.

    Medicinal Componets of Pau d’Arco

    Pau d’arco is derived from the inner bark of the tree of the same name which grows mainly in the rain forests of South America, Central America, Mexico, the West Indies and Florida.  According to the American Cancer Society, pau d’arco has 20 active compounds, including lapachol, beta-lapachone, bioflavonoids, alkaloids, cornosol, indoles, coenzyme Q, steroidal saponins and the minerals calcium, cobalt and silicon.  Although all of these compounds may play a role in its medicinal effectiveness, most herbal practitioners believe it is the tannins that are the main healing property.

    Healing Benefits of Pau d’Arco

    Pau d’arco is believed to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and anticancer agents.  It is thought to increase red blood cells, enhance the immune system, and increase the amount of oxygen in the blood.  Used topically, pau d’arco can be effective in treating fungal infections, hemorrhoids, skin inflammations and eczema.  Other health benefits of pau d’arco include:

    • Aids in digestion
    • Removes toxins in the body
    • Relieves arthritis pain
    • Protects against high blood pressure
    • Protects against heart disease
    • Treatment for Lupus
    • Treatment for Parkinson’s disease
    • Pain medication
    • Treats sexually transmitted diseases and infections including candidiasis, herpes, brucellosis, cervicitis and vaginitis
    • Treatment for yeast infections
    • Cures colds, flu, sore throat
    • Treatment for ear infections and fluid in ears
    • Treatment for sinus infections
    • Treatment for toothache
    • Treatment for some forms of cancer

    Study Findings of Pau d’Arco

    In the past, studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of the active ingredient lapachol in pau d’arco for the treatment of cancer.  The National Cancer Institute sponsored studies in the 1970’s but found no conclusive evidence that lapachol was an effective treatment for cancer.  In one animal study, lapachol was found effective in treating malaria and certain tumor cells.  In some unconfirmed tests, extracts from the tree bark stimulated the immune system as well as killed lung and liver cancer cells.  However, it was found that high doses of lapachol prevented the clotting of blood and could be dangerous to people with bleeding disorders or who are taking blood thinners or aspirin.

    Side-Effects of Pau d’arco

    Pau d’arco can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea and pink-colored urine.  In high doses, pau d’arco can be toxic and should not be taken for long periods of time.  People with bleeding disorders or who take blood thinners or are on aspirin therapy for heart disease should not take this herb.  Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take this herb as it can be dangerous to the baby.  People with asthma may be allergic to this herbal remedy.

    Available Forms of Pau d’arco

    Pau d’arco is available in capsule, tablet, powder, tincture and extract form as well as in creams and lotions.  It is also very popular as a tea, especially for the treatment of sore throats, colds, flu and digestive disorders.  Pau d’arco is generally available over-the-counter at the pharmacy and on the internet.  It is not available for purchase in Canada.

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