What is Pau D’Arco? Where is it found? What is it used for?
Paul D’Arco is both the name of the dietary supplement, as well the name of the tree from which it is sourced. It refers to a number of species of tree, all belonging to the group ‘Tabebuia’. The most commonly used are Tabebuia impetiginosa and Tabebuia avellanedae. Pau D’Arco is also known by the names Taheebo and Lapacho.
The tree is found in Central and South America, and its inner bark has been used as a herbal remedy for more than 1,500 years (Hong Lee et. al, 2012).
It has been known to treat a variety of conditions, including but not limited to:
- Ulcer and sores
Extracts from the stem and inner bark have been studied in vitro to quantify their antimicrobial effects, particularly against bacteria (Park et al., 2006). It is found to be effective against the common bacterial strains Staphylococcus, and E. Coli, which is known for causing gastro-intestinal infections (Caetano da Silva et al., 2017). In another study, the plant was found to be effective against an antibiotic resistant (methicillin) staphylococcus strain (Machado et al., 2003). This strain of bacteria commonly infects the skin.
There is also evidence that Paul D’Arco has an anti-inflammatory effect. One study identified the mechanisms in which it acted to modulate inflammatory responses, both in vitro and in vivo. This article suggests it would be a beneficial herbal remedy for inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and atherosclerosis (Byeon et al., 2008). Another study found that Tabebuia avellanedae had an anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect. Inflammation was reduced by 30% to 50% compared to the control group (Hong Lee et. al, 2012).
Promotes Wound healing
Some studies on Tabebuia also suggest that it promotes wound healing. This has either been studied in vivo on animals, or else in vitro using compounds taken from the plant.
One small study on beef cattle found that wounds treated with extracts from Tabebuia avellanedae appeared smoother, had less crusting and less oedema (Lipinski et al., 2012).
A study using Tabebuia rosea in rats found improved re-epithelisation of tissue and smaller sized wounds. (Nwonu et al., 2011). An experiment using Tabebuia aurea on wounds in rats found that it reduced inflammation, but their findings showed no improvement in re-epithelisation compared to controls (Povoas et al., 2016)
A more recent study looked into the plants wound healing abilities at a molecular level. They found that its compounds α-lapachone and β-lapachone accelerate cellular pathways responsible for tissue regeneration and blood clotting in the body. This in turn speeds up the healing process of wounds (Ahmad et al, 2020)
Although only a relatively small number of studies currently exist on this supplement, findings have established it has anti-bacterial properties and research suggests it can also promote wound healing. Pau D’arco’s anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties make it a suitable topical treatment for wounds and sores on the skin. It is likely that more research will come out in years to come, along with other herbal remedies, as holistic methods gain more traction in the medical field.
- Ahmad, F. et al. (2020) “Naphthoquinones from Handroanthus impetiginosus promote skin wound healing through Sirt3 regulation,” Iran J Basic Med Sci, 23(9), pp. 1139–1145. Available at: https://doi.org/10.22038/ijbms.2020.43706.10275.
- Byeon, S.E. et al. (2008) “In vitro and in vivo anti-inflammatory effects of Taheebo, a water extract from the inner bark of Tabebuia Avellanedae,” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 119(1), pp. 145–152. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2008.06.016.
- Caetano da Silva, J. et al. (2017) “Evaluation of the Cytotoxic, Antimicrobial and Antioxidant Activity of the Plant Especies Tabebuia roseo-alba (Ridl) Sand,” Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research, 9(4), pp. 148–153.
- Hong Lee, M.U et al. (2012) “Analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects in animal models of an ethanolic extract of Taheebo, the inner bark of Tabebuia Avellanedae,” Molecular Medicine Reports, 6(4), pp. 791–796. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3892/mmr.2012.989.
- Lipinski, L.C. et al. (2012) “Effects of 3 topical plant extracts on wound healing in beef cattle,” African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, 9(4). Available at: https://doi.org/10.4314/ajtcam.v9i4.11.
- Machado, T.B. et al. (2003) “In vitro activity of Brazilian medicinal plants, naturally occurring naphthoquinones and their analogues, against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus,” International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, 21(3), pp. 279–284. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/s0924-8579(02)00349-7.
- Nwonu, P. et al. (2011) “Wound healing properties of stem bark extract of tabebuia rosea,” Journal of Pharmaceutical and Allied Sciences, 7(4). Available at: https://doi.org/10.4314/jophas.v7i4.63452.
- Park, B.-S. et al. (2006) “Antibacterial activity of tabebuia impetiginosa martius ex DC (Taheebo) against helicobacter pylori,” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 105(1-2), pp. 255–262. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2005.11.005.
- Povoas, F.T.X. et al. (2016) “Topical treatment with yellow-ipe extract (Tabebuia aurea) in wound healing by secondary intention in rats,” Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research, 8(1), pp. 367–373.