Pau D’Arco Benefits

Pao d'Arco BarkAs an avid tea drinker, I love trying new teas. Just lately I discovered a fantastic tea known as pau d’arco.

This discovery came as I watched some recipe DVDs by raw food guru David Wolfe. He was mixing this tea with cat’s claw along with some other herbs to make some highly beneficial and ultra potent tonics.

Since pau d’arco tea seemed to have some really great health benefits, I decided to give it a try.

What I found is something that is very pleasant tasting that I will be drinking for some time to come.

Having found this new tea and seeing that David Wolfe was using it in his recipes, I set out on a mission to research pau d’arco to find out the advantages and benefits to its consumption.

What is Pau D’Arco?

First off, what is pau d’arco and where does it come from?

Pau D'Arco TreePau d’arco is a tea made from a hardwood evergreen tree that is native to South America and is found primarily growing in the warm climates of Central and South America.

The tree itself is a broad leaf tree that can grow up to 125 feet tall and contains pink to violet flowers. It’s hardwood nature makes it very resistant to disease or decay.

It is the inner bark of this tree that is used medicinally and used for making the actual pau d’arco tea.

Pau D’Arco Health Benefits

Having its roots in South America, medicinal use of pau d’arco in that region has been documented all the way back to the year 1873.

It has been used to treat a wide variety of conditions including pain, inflammation of the prostate gland, fever, dysentery, arthritis, boils and ulcers, and even cancer.

Researchers have identified two main compounds in pau d’arco that are responsible for its medicinal power: lapachol and beta-lapachone.

These two chemicals are known as naphthoquinones and have been shown to kill some types of bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungi in certain laboratory studies.

As such, pau d’arco is sometimes used to help fight viral, bacterial, and/or parasitic conditions such as candida, herpes virus, influenza, bacterial infections and parasitic diseases.

However, scientists say there is no true evidence that it works to alleviate these conditions.


Pau D’Arco Tea Side Effects

As with all herbs and supplements, we must consider any possible negative effects. Before adding pau d’arco to your diet, it is important to discuss the dosage and side effects with your health care provider.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, large amounts of pau d’arco can be toxic with daily lapachol levels over 1.5g potentially leading to negative side effects.

These side effects can include:

  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Anemia
  • Nausea

Also, as with many herbs and supplements, children and pregnant or nursing women should not take pau d’arco.

In addition, it is important to make sure you discuss any drug interactions with your doctor or health care provider.


Pau D’Arco and Candida

Due to its antifungal properties, one of the most common and popular uses of pau d’arco is for the treatment of candida.

What is candida? Candida is a form of yeast that can grow all over the body and can sometimes occur as an overgrowth in the gut. When this happens it can cause problems with the good flora of the gut and lead to issues.

Here is a great article on how pau d’arco works on candida.


Pau D’Arco’s effects are two-fold when it comes to Candida. Firstly the herb helps to loosen the bowels. Not enough to cause diarrhea, but enough to wash out old fecal matter (see our cleansing page) and expose the Candida yeast.


Secondly, Pau D’Arco acts as a powerful antifungal agent. It contains several classes of compounds, lapachol, xyloidone and various napthaquinones. The most important of these is lapachol, which has been shown to inhibit the growth of Candida.


According to an overview of lapachol research published in 2007 (see here), “it was reported that lapachol has a significant effect against Candida albicans, Candida tropicalis, and Cryptococcus neoformans, that was similar to Amphotericin B. The presumed antifungal activity of lapachol is believed to be due to its interaction with the cellular membrane.”




Pau D’Arco Extract and Other Forms

Pau d’arco can be taken in many forms besides just tea. Some common forms of pau d’arco that are not in dried bark tea form are tablets, tinctures, and extracts.
For those who are not tea drinkers or who do not like the taste of the tea, this can be a quick and easy way to incorporate pau d’arco in the diet.
Also, some research suggests that the beneficial compounds in pau d’arco are not easily dissolved in water so making tea from the bark would not be nearly as effective as utilizing a pau d’arco extract or other more concentrated form.

Flavor, Cost, and Availability of Pau D’arco Tea

To me, the flavor of pau d’arco tea is very pleasant and enjoyable. The tea, which is made from the bark of the pau d’arco tree, has a very mild, woody flavor. It is a very smooth tasting tea that remains palatable even with long steep times. It never seems to bitter or become difficult to drink.
I tend to prefer my teas rather strong but it seems that no matter how much bark I put into the infuser, the beverage maintains a very mild, earthy flavor.
Fortunately, due to the rising popularity of pau d’arco, you can find the pau d’arco bark for making tea at most natural health grocery stores.
One of the great things about this tea, is that it is really inexpensive costing only about $6.50 per pound when buying in bulk.


So there is the basic overview of what pau d’arco is, its origin, and some potential benefits and side effects of consumption.

Knowing nothing about pau d’arco, I was intrigued to find out just how powerful this herb can be. Due to its delicious woody flavor, I will surely be consuming this tea regularly in my diet.

Are you a pau d’arco tea drinker?  If so, please share your experience by leaving a comment below!

Pau D’Arco Bark Image by Akuppa via Flickr

Tree Image by mauroguanandi via Flickr

Category: Herbs and Supplements

One thought on “Pau D’Arco Benefits

  1. Blanche-Marie on said:

    I have a large crockpot about 2 gallons. I make a mixture of Pau D’Arco, Cat’s claw and Chuchuhuasi tea…I have been drinking this every day for the past 6 months. I quit coffee and I substituted with this mixture. I really enjoy it. It last approximately about 3 days. Because I drink a lot. I make it not too strong. Cat’s claw has a bitter taste while Pau d’Arco is very mild and so is Chuchuhuasi. These three teas have about the same benefits. One great thing it did was to remove the pain in the join of my finger.

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