The Collison Newsletter January 2016



                              2.  PAU  D’ARCO*   

Pau d'arco (Tabebuia avellanedae) is native to South America, where it has traditionally been used to treat a wide range of conditions, including pain, arthritis, inflammation, fever, dysentery, boils and ulcers, and various cancers. As early as 1873, there were reported medicinal uses of pau d'arco. It is believed to improve immune function and aid detoxification.


The pau d'arco tree grows in the warm parts of Central and South America, especially the rainforests of Brazil. It is a broad leaf evergreen, growing to a height of 125’, with pink-to-violet colored flowers. The tree's extremely hard wood makes it resistant to disease and decay. The inner bark of the tree is used medicinally. In recent years there has been an increasing demand for pau d'arco, causing the trees to become endangered.


Pau d'arco is the Portuguese word for ‘bow stick’, since the tree is used by the native South American Indians for making hunting bows.


Most of the chemical research on pau d'arco has been done on the wood and not the inner bark. Pau d'arco contains chemical compounds called naphthoquinones. Scientists have identified two active naphthoquinones, lapachol and beta-lapachone. They seem to have anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties, as shown in laboratory tests. They also have anti-inflammatory properties.  Pau d'arco also contains significant amounts of the antioxidant quercetin.


The naphthoquinones, lapachol and beta-lapachone, are both polyphenolic compounds. These have positive effects on oxidative damage, inflammatory markers, platelet and cell function and they also have anti-microbial activity. Polyphenols have a modulator effect on the immune system, they regulate immune function by differentiation and activation of immune cells.

Therapeutic Uses of Pau d'Arco 

Pau d’arco is mainly recommended to support the immune system. The mechanisms for this are outlined above. It can be taken as a tonic.


Specific diseases, such as candidiasis, herpes simplex, the common cold and 'flu, and others have been treated with Pau d'arco, although there is only anecdotal evidence that it works in these conditions.


Pau d'arco is available as tablets or capsules (500-1000 mg), dried bark (for tea), and liquid/tincture. (


The dose (tablets or capsules) is 1000-2000mg per day. The tincture is 10-15 drops twice a day.

Side Effects and Warning 

At the recommended doses, side effects are uncommon but may include nausea, diarrhoea and dizziness.


Pau d'arco may effect the blood's ability to clot, and could interfere with blood-thinning drugs such as Warfarin, Plavix and Aspirin.


*Copyright 2016: The Huntly Centre.

Disclaimer: All material in the website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Consult a health professional regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations expressed herein, with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.


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