Pau d’arco (Tabebuia impetiginosa) is an amazing herbal supplement that is made from the inner bark of several species of Tabebuia trees that grows in the Amazonian rainforests of Brazil and rainforests in Central and South America. They have used this bark for centuries to treat a wide range of medical conditions in herbal medicine.

The medicinal properties of Pau D’Arco go back hundreds, if not thousands of years. This highly prized tree was in high demand for its anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and healing properties. 

This article will specifically discuss Pau d’Arco and its use in the treatment of candida, cancer, and inflammation.

What is Pau D’arco Made of?

pau d'arco

Usually, the inner bark of the pau d’arco tree is often used for medicinal purposes. It’s mainly used for treating stomach and skin issues, such as acne. The bark is harvested from the pau d’arco tree, native to the Amazon.

The two main chemical compounds in the bark are lapachol and beta-lapachone. These compounds show potent antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties in lab research. Lapachol also helps slow tumor growth [1].

The bark also contains significant amounts of quercetin, an antioxidant that may help protect against heart disease, cancer, and other age-related diseases.

Pau D’arco Benefits

1. Treats Infections 

Research scientists suggest that pau d’arco extract has antibacterial and antifungal properties that may help treat infections. 

Since the exact mechanism remains unknown, it is thought to inhibit the process of bacteria and fungi needed to produce oxygen and energy [2]. 

A 2013 study from Brazil says that lapachol can neutralize a number of disease-causing bacteria in test tubes, including potentially serious ones like Enterococcus faecalis, Staphylococcus aureus, Cryptococcus gatti, and Paracoccidioides brasiliensis [3]. 

2. Reduces Inflammation

Since inflammation has its place as a valuable immune response, chronic inflammation is now thought to be the root cause of most diseases. The overload of toxins from diet and the environment that has built up in the body can turn the immune system on and make it highly reactive, which leads to chronic inflammation. 

There are several risks of asthma, Crohn’s disease, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes that you can avoid by reducing inflammation. 

Pau d’arco is great to fight inflammation, according to a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. There’s an investigation involving lab mice with medically induced edema (tissue swelling), which demonstrated that a water-based extract of it could block the production of pro-inflammatory compounds known as prostaglandins [4].

3. May Reduce Weight

Another amazing benefit that pau d’arco has is that it may aid in weight loss

There’s a study conducted on mice that demonstrates that pau d’arco extract inhibits pancreatic lipase. It is an enzyme that also helps your body digest and absorbs dietary fat. It blocks and reduces fat digestion, which results in fewer absorbable calories [5].

However, it still remains unclear whether pau d’arco extract would be effective for inhibiting dietary fat absorption in humans. 

We still need to consider the side effects of blocking dietary fat absorption including oily spotting on underwear, urgent bowel movements, loose stool,  inability to control bowel movements, and fatty or oily stools [6].

4. Combats Candida

Our body normally produces yeast in the mouth, vagina, rectum, and digestive tracts, and in normal amounts, it also remains harmless. Moreover, if the body’s natural pH balance is upset, candida symptoms can quickly go out of control. 

When it comes to fighting candida (also commonly known as candidiasis), it is one of the most powerful natural remedies. In fact, for those seeking a candida cure, it may be just what you need. 

It helps the body fight candida because of its fungicidal and anti-inflammatory properties. 

5. Rich in Lapachol and Other Antioxidants

The pau d’arco tea also contains several compounds, including quinoids, benzenoids, and flavonoids. The compounds have displayed biological activity against harmful organisms. 

It has a significant amount of lapachol, which comes from the tree’s stem. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, lapachol is toxic and resistant to nearly all types of harmful organisms [7]. 

A published study from 2005 found that lapachol has great potential as an application in fighting metastasis. It is the spread of cancer or other diseases from one organ of the body to another. Metastasis is one of the major processes responsible for death in cancer patients, and recent research involving lapachol is promising. 

Helps Treat Ulcers

We know that ulcers are burns that form in the lining of the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract. Ulcers are usually by an increase in stomach acid, the effect of stress, medications, diet, smoking, alcohol, or H. pylori, a bad type of bacteria. 

A study from 2013 found that pau d’arco extracts significantly accelerated the healing of acetic acid-induced gastric ulcers in rats through increasing mucus content and cell proliferation. This may suggest that it could be a treatment for peptic ulcer diseases in humans [8]. 

Combats Cancer

The claim may be bold, compounds that are found in pau d’arco are believed to slow down the growth of tumors, at least in the test tube. 

A study conducted that the beta-lapachone found in pau d’arco was able to trigger apoptosis in certain types of cancer cells [9]. 

One of the most amazing effects of pau d’arco is its ability to fight cancer and relieve the pain associated with cancer. A study in Boston about beta-Lapachone, which is a primary compound in pau d’arco tea, is a potential compound for cancer chemotherapy, particularly for prostate cancer [10].

How to Use Pau D’arco 

pau d'arco

Pau D’arco has a long history in South America, they have used it for thousands of years to treat almost every disease imaginable, from malaria to the common cold, insect bites, or fungal infections. 

It was still taken internally in tea or powder form or used externally to treat all manner of wounds, skin infections, snake bites, and even impetigo. 

How to Make Pau D’arco tea 

  1. Put two teaspoons of bark into four cups of boiling water. 
  2. Wait and let the bark sit in the boiling water for about 20 minutes. 
  3. Remove the heat and let the tea cool for 1 hour. 
  4. Strain the water. 
  5. Consume the tea in small portions throughout the day, or use tea water for external use and vaginal flush. 

You can also buy Pau D’arco tea online at your local health food store.

Risks and Side Effects of Pau D’arco

Pau d’arco is might be unsafe and can cause nausea when consumed in high doses. The side effects include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Internal bleeding

When using it, make sure to keep track of your doses. Speak to your local health care provider if you notice any of these side effects. 

For those women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, they shouldn’t use pau d’arco due to a lack of information about the safety of these products. 

It can also delay clotting and might interfere with the treatment of people with bleeding disorders. Keep in mind that it can also increase the chances of bruising as well. 

There is also an increase in bleeding during and after surgery. Keep in mind to stop using pau d’arco at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery for safety. 

Avoid the use of blood-clotting medications, such as anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs. 

Furthermore, it’s essential to make sure that your product comes from a reputable manufacturer. Consult first with your doctor before trying pau d’arco. 

Dosage and Preparation

Pau D’arco is also available as capsules, tablets, dried bark tea, bark powder, and alcohol-based tinctures. Since no guidelines are directing its appropriate use, most pau d’arco supplements are available in 500 to 550-milligram capsules that are safe within this range. It is important to not exceed the dose printed on the product label as a rule of thumb. 

For safety, add no more than one level teaspoon of dried pau d’arco powder to one cup of hot water to make tea. Ensure to strain the tea before drinking and discard the leftover bark. 

There are a lot of pau d’arco supplements, tinctures, and powders that you can find online and in a growing number of stores and natural food shops. If you’re inexperienced, it is best to avoid dried bark chips. 

The Bottomline: Uses, Benefits, & Side Effects of Pau d’arco

Pau d’arco is a great supplement from the inner bark of a tropical tree that has a lot of amazing benefits. 

Although animal and test-tube studies suggest that this bark is great in treating certain infections and reducing inflammation, further studies on humans are lacking. Therefore, the effectiveness and safety of pau d’arco extract remain largely unknown, that’s why it’s important to consult first with your health provider before trying it. 

Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.

Editorial References And Fact-Checking

  • Yamashita, M., Kaneko, M., Tokuda, H., Nishimura, K., Kumeda, Y., & Iida, A. (2009). Synthesis and evaluation of bioactive naphthoquinones from the Brazilian medicinal plant, Tabebuia avellanedae. Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry17(17), 6286–6291.
  • Souza, M. A., Johann, S., Lima, L. A. R. D. S., Campos, F. F., Mendes, I. C., Beraldo, H., Souza-Fagundes, E. M. D., Cisalpino, P. S., Rosa, C. A., Alves, T. M. D. A., Sa, N. P. D., & Zani, C. L. (2013). The antimicrobial activity of lapachol and its thiosemicarbazone and semicarbazone derivatives. Memórias Do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, 108(3), 342–351.
  • Byeon, S. E., Chung, J. Y., Lee, Y. G., Kim, B. H., Kim, K. H., & Cho, J. Y. (2008). In vitro and in vivo anti-inflammatory effects of taheebo, a water extract from the inner bark of Tabebuia avellanedae. Journal of ethnopharmacology119(1), 145–152.
  • Kiage-Mokua, B. N., Roos, N., & Schrezenmeir, J. (2012). Lapacho tea (Tabebuia impetiginosa) extract inhibits pancreatic lipase and delays postprandial triglyceride increase in rats. Phytotherapy research : PTR26(12), 1878–1883.
  • Jain, S. S., Ramanand, S. J., Ramanand, J. B., Akat, P. B., Patwardhan, M. H., & Joshi, S. R. (2011). Evaluation of efficacy and safety of orlistat in obese patients. Indian journal of endocrinology and metabolism15(2), 99–104.
  • Oliveira Silva, E., Cruz de Carvalho, T., Parshikov, I. A., Alves dos Santos, R., Silva Emery, F., & Jacometti Cardoso Furtado, N. A. (2014). Cytotoxicity of lapachol metabolites produced by probiotics. Letters in applied microbiology59(1), 108–114.
  • Pereira, I. T., Burci, L. M., da Silva, L. M., Baggio, C. H., Heller, M., Micke, G. A., Pizzolatti, M. G., Marques, M. C., & Werner, M. F. (2013). Antiulcer effect of bark extract of Tabebuia avellanedae: activation of cell proliferation in gastric mucosa during the healing process. Phytotherapy research : PTR27(7), 1067–1073.
  • Gómez Castellanos, J. R., Prieto, J. M., & Heinrich, M. (2009). Red Lapacho (Tabebuia impetiginosa)–a global ethnopharmacological commodity?. Journal of ethnopharmacology121(1), 1–13.
  • Li, C. J., Wang, C., & Pardee, A. B. (1995). Induction of apoptosis by beta-lapachone in human prostate cancer cells. Cancer research55(17), 3712–3715.


  • Kim Monasterial, BSN

    Kim is a Registered Nurse and has been a medical freelance writer for more than six years. Starting off as a writer, Kim moved to proofreading and editing all the articles posted on HealthPlugged. She’s an enthusiast for health and wellness, being one to keep herself fit and adventurous for outdoor activities. LinkedIn


Kim is a Registered Nurse and has been a medical freelance writer for more than six years. Starting off as a writer, Kim moved to proofreading and editing all the articles posted on HealthPlugged. She’s an enthusiast for health and wellness, being one to keep herself fit and adventurous for outdoor activities. LinkedIn