Pau d'Arco - January Featured Herb

One of the best known, but least understood, herbs from the Amazonian rainforest, pau d'arco is a key ingredient in the tribal medicine chest, used as whole herb to treat infections, for pain, arthritis, fever, and dysentery. Pau d'Arco (bow tree) is also known as the lapacho tree and grows in Central and South America. The pau d'arco bark consists of the inner bark of the tree which is peeled and rasped 1 to 2 times a year.

The tree is a huge canopy tree which can grow up to 25 meters high and can live for 700 years. It has pink to violet colored flowers. The valuable substances in the inner bark can only be found in full concentration and optimal composition after about the 40th year of the tree's life.

Indio tribes have been using different species of this tree for medicinal purposes for centuries. Even the ancient Incas and Aztecs were already familiar with the tree's healing powers.

The species from which the medicinal drug (tea) is primarily produced for the world market is the Tabebuia impetiginosa.

Healing Powers

The scientific study of pau d'arco is still very preliminary. There is a great deal of practical evidence, however, that pau d'arco can be used with success to treat colds, flu, sore throat, and yeast infections, and there is laboratory evidence that the herb contains compounds that protect against tropical diseases, specifically malaria, schistosomiasis, and tropical fevers. The herb is added to ointments to treat psoriasis, and taken orally to relieve ulcers.

Other healing attributes of pau d'arco include:

  1. It causes pain to disappear.
  2. It multiplies the number of red blood cells within a short time, thereby creating a much better supply of vital oxygen to your body.
  3. The inner bark has large amounts of oxygen which is bound in a form easily available to the human organism. Oxygen in this form can kill bacteria, protozoa, fungi and viruses. The body cells receive better nutrition and coatings dissolve from the walls of blood vessels. At the same time, the vitality and flexibility of these important blood vessels are substantially improved.
  4. Pau d'Arco is useful for the improvement of wound healing.
  5. The bark contains various germ killing substances. It has a natural, holistically active antibiotic agent with negligible harmful side effects.
  6. Pau d'Arco has an immunostimulating effect. It can increase the body's defense system by more than 48%.
  7. Pau d'Arco contains a great deal of calcium and iron, which supports the transportation of oxygen and the nourishment of the tissue and the immune system which strengthens the overall organism.
  8. Selenium is contained in a comparably medium-strong concentration. Selenium is an important antioxidant, a catcher of "free radicals" which damage cells and cytoplasts, weaken the body's defenses and promote the development of various diseases. Selenium may detoxify the body of the heavy metal cadmium, which is one of the most frequent environmental toxins today and causes high blood pressure and coronary diseases of the heart as well as weakening the body's powers of resistance.
  9. The saponins, which are richly present in pau d'arco tea, are natural antimycotic agents that protect the body from harmful fungi and even create a climate capable of repelling them. Pau d'arco is useful in treating candidiasis (yeast) infections because of this.
  10. Pau d'arco may help in the treatment of diabetes mellitus. Pau d'arco appears to inhibit the absorption of glucose in the intestines.

Preparing Pau d'Arco Tea

  1. Do not use a pot or storage container that is made of tin or aluminum. These metals react with the compounds in pau d'arco tea when heated and thereby considerably reduce its medicinal benefits.
  2. Plastic for storage may also reduce the benefits of the tea depending on the composition of the plastic.
  3. Unlike other teas that are brewed, pau d'arco is made by boiling the bark for at least eight to 10 minutes, which is necessary in order to release the active chemicals.
Tea Recipe
  1. Use a glass, porcelain or stainless steel pot.
  2. Use 4 heaping tablespoons of bark per 8 cups of water
  3. Bring water to a boil, add bark, boil for 5 minutes
  4. Continue to slow boil for an additional 15 minutes
  5. Strain the tea and store in a glass container
  6. You can drink it hot, warm, at room temperature, cold or iced.

Once brewed, a batch of tea will last for 4 days without refrigeration or 8 days with refrigeration.

Taheebo tea by itself has a slightly sweet taste. You can add a little bit of lemon or cranberry juice to the tea if you wish.


  1. The Healing Power of Pau d'Arco, Walter Lubeck, Lotus Light Publications. Translated by Christine M. Grimm, 1998.