TECHNICAL PLANT DATA
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Synonyms: Tabebuia avellanedae, T. ipe, T. nicaraguensis, T. schunkeuigoi, T.
serratifolia, T. altissima, T. palmeri, Gelseminum avellanedae, Handroanthus avellanedae, H.
impetiginosus, Tecoma adenophylla, Tecoma avellanedae, Tecoma eximia, Tecoma
impetiginosa, Tecoma integra, Tecoma ipe
Common Names: Pau d’arco, ipê, ipê roxo, lapacho, tahuari, taheebo, trumpet tree, ipê-contra-sarna,
tabebuia ipê, tajy
Part Used: Bark, wood
From The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs:
| PAU D'ARCO |
| HERBAL PROPERTIES AND ACTIONS |
||Decoction: 1/2 cup 2-4
|kills leukemia cells
|| times daily
||Tincture: 2-3 ml 2-3
||Capsules: Not recommended
|fights free radicals
Pau d’arco is a huge canopy tree native to the Amazon rainforest and other tropical parts of South
and Latin America. It grows to 30 m high and the base of the tree can be 2–3 m in diameter. The Tabebuia genus includes about 100 species of large, flowering trees that are common to South American cities’ landscapes for their beauty. The tree also is popular with timber loggers—its high-quality wood is some of the heaviest, most durable wood in the tropics. Pau d’arco wood is widely used in the construction of everything from houses and boats to farm tools. The common name pau d’arco (as well as its other main names of commerce, ipê roxo and lapacho) is used for several different species of Tabebuia trees that are used interchangeably in herbal medicine systems. T. impetiginosa is known for its attractive purple flowers and often is called “purple lapacho.” It has been the preferred species employed in herbal medicine. It is often referred to by its other botanical name, Tabebuia avellanedae; both refer to the same tree. Other pau d’arco species produce pink (T. heptaphylla), yellow (T. serratifolia and T. chrysantha) or white (T. bahamensis) flowers. Though many of these species may have a similar phytochemical makeup, they are different species of trees.
TRIBAL AND HERBAL MEDICINE USES
Pau d'arco has a long and well-documented history of use by the indigenous peoples of the rainforest. Indications imply that its use may actually predate the Incas. Throughout South America, tribes living thousands of miles apart have employed it for the same medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. Several Indian tribes of the rainforest have used pau d'arco wood for centuries to make their hunting bows; their common names for the tree mean "bow stick" and "bow stem." The Guarani and Tupi Indians call the tree tajy, which means "to have strength and vigor." They use the bark to treat many different conditions and as a tonic for the same strength and vigor it puts into their bows. Pau d'arco is recorded to be used by forest inhabitants throughout the Amazon for malaria, anemia, colitis, respiratory problems, colds, cough, flu, fungal infections, fever, arthritis and rheumatism, snakebite, poor circulation, boils, syphilis, and cancer.
Pau d'arco also has a long history in herbal medicine around the world. In South American herbal medicine, it is considered to be astringent, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, and laxative; it is used to treat ulcers, syphilis, urinary tract infections, gastrointestinal problems, candida and yeast infections, cancer, diabetes, prostatitis, constipation, and allergies. It is used in Brazilian herbal medicine for many conditions including cancer, leukemia, ulcers, diabetes, candida, rheumatism, arthritis, prostatitis, dysentery, stomatitis, and boils. In North American herbal medicine, pau d'arco is considered to be analgesic, antioxidant, antiparasitic, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and laxative, as well as to have anticancerous properties. It is used for fevers, infections, colds, flu, syphilis, urinary tract infections, cancer, respiratory problems, skin ulcerations, boils, dysentery, gastrointestinal problems of all kinds, arthritis, prostatitis, and circulation disturbances. Pau d'arco also is employed in herbal medicine systems in the United States for lupus, diabetes, ulcers, leukemia, allergies, liver disease, Hodgkin's disease, osteomyelitis, Parkinson's disease, and psoriasis, and is a popular natural remedy for candida and yeast infections. The recorded uses in European herbal medicine systems reveal that it is used in much the same way as in the United States, and for the same conditions.
The chemical constituents and active ingredients of pau d'arco have been well documented. Its use with (and reported cures for) various types of cancers fueled much of the early research in the early 1960s. The plant contains a large amount of chemicals known as quinoids, and a small quantity of benzenoids and flavonoids. These quinoids (and, chiefly, anthraquinones, furanonaphthoquinones, lapachones, and naphthoquinones) have shown the most documented biological activity and are seen to be the center of the plant's efficacy as an herbal remedy. In the 1960s, plant extracts of the heartwood and bark demonstrated marked antitumorous effects in animals, which drew the interest of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Researchers decided that the most potent single chemical for this activity was a naphthoquinone chemical named lapachol and they concentrated solely on this single chemical in their subsequent cancer research. In a 1968 study, lapachol demonstrated highly significant activity against cancerous tumors in rats.
By 1970, NCI-backed research already was testing lapachol in human cancer patients. The institute reported, however, that their first Phase I study failed to produce a therapeutic effect without side-effects - and they discontinued further cancer research shortly thereafter. These side-effects were nausea and vomiting (very common with chemotherapy drugs) and anti-vitamin K activity (the main concerns over which caused anemia and an anticoagulation effect). Interestingly, other chemicals in the whole plant extract (which, initially, showed positive antitumor effects and very low toxicity) demonstrated positive effects on vitamin K and, conceivably, compensated for lapachol's negative effect. Once again, instead of pursuing research on a complex combination of at least 20 active chemicals in a whole plant extract (several of which had antitumor effects and other positive biological activities), research focused on a single, patentable chemical-and it didn't work as well. Despite NCI's abandonment of the research, another group developed a lapachol analog (which was patentable) in 1975. One study reported that this lapachol analog increased the life span of mice inoculated with leukemic cells by over 80%. In a small, uncontrolled, 1980 study of nine human patients with various cancers (liver, kidney, breast, prostate, and cervix), pure lapachol was reported to shrink tumors and reduce pain caused by them - and three of the patients realized complete remissions.
The phytochemical database housed at the U.S. Department of Agriculture has documented lapachol as being antiabscess, anticarcinomic, antiedemic, anti-inflammatory, antimalarial, antiseptic, antitumorous, antiviral, bactericidal, fungicidal, insectifugal, pesticidal, protisticidal, respiratory depressant, schistosomicidal, termiticidal, and viricidal. It's not surprising that pau d'arco's beneficial effects were seen to stem from its lapachol content. But another chemical in pau d'arco, beta-lapachone, has been studied closely of late-and a number of recent patents have been filed on it. It has demonstrated in laboratory studies to have activities similar to lapachol (antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, antitumorous, antileukemic, and anti-inflammatory), with few side-effects. In one of these studies on beta-lapachone and other quinones in pau d'arco, researchers reported: "Because of their potent activity against the growth of human keratinocytes, some lapachol-derived compounds appear to be promising as effective antipsoriatic agents." In a 2002 U.S. patent, beta-lapachone was cited to have significant anticancerous activity against human cancer cell lines including: promyelocytic leukemia, prostate, malignant glioma, colon, hepatoma, breast, ovarian, pancreatic, multiple myeloma cell lines and drug-resistant cell lines. In yet another U.S. patent, beta-lapachone was cited with the in vivo ability to inhibit the growth of prostate tumors.
The main plant chemicals in pau d'arco include: acetaldehydes, alpha-lapachone, ajugols, anisic acid, anthraquinones, benzoic acids, benzenes, beta-lapachone, carboxaldehydes, chromium, chrysanthemin, dehydro-alpha-lapachone, dehydroisolapachone, deoxylapachol, flavonoids,furanonaphthoquinones, hydrochlorolapachol, 2-hydroxy-3-methyl-quinone, 6-hydroxy-mellein, iso-8-hydroxy-lariciresinol, kigelinone, lapachenol, lapachenole, lapachol, lapachones, menaquinones, 4-methoxyphenol, naphthoquinones, paeonidin-3-cinnamyl-sophoroside, phthiolol, quercetin, tabebuin, tectoquinone, vanillic acid, vanillin, veratric acid, veratric aldehyde, and xyloidone.
BIOLOGICAL ACTIVITIES AND CLINICAL RESEARCH
In addition to its reported antitumor and antileukemic activities, pau d'arco clearly has demonstrated broad spectrum actions against a number of disease-causing microorganisms, which supports its wide array of uses in herbal medicine. Antimicrobial properties of many of pau d'arco's active phytochemicals were demonstrated in several clinical studies, in which they exhibited strong in vitro activity against bacteria, fungi, and yeast (including Candida, Aspergillus, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Helicobacter pylori, Brucella, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and dysentery). In addition to its isolated chemicals, a hot water extract of pau d'arco demonstrated antibacterial actions against Staphylococcus aureus, Helicobacter pylori (the bacteria that commonly causes stomach ulcers), and Brucella. A water extract of pau d'arco was reported (in other in vitro clinical research) to have strong activity against 11 fungus and yeast strains. Pau d'arco and its chemicals also have demonstrated in vitro antiviral properties against various viruses, including Herpes I and II, influenza, polio virus, and vesicular stomatitis virus. Its antiparasitic actions against various parasites (including malaria, schistosoma, and trypanosoma) have been confirmed as well. Finally, bark extracts of pau d'arco have demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity and have shown success against a wide range of induced inflammation in mice and rats.
CURRENT PRACTICAL USES
Pau d’arco is an important resource from the rainforest with many applications in herbal
medicine. Unfortunately, its popularity and use have been controversial due to varying results
obtained with its use. For the most part, these seem to have been caused by a lack of quality
control—and confusion as to which part of the plant to use and how to prepare it. Many species of
Tabebuia, as well as other completely unrelated tree species exported today from South America
as “pau d’arco,” have few to none of the active constituents of the true medicinal species. Pau
d’arco lumber is in high demand in South America. The inner bark shavings commonly sold in the
U.S. are actually by-products of the timber and lumber industries. Even mahogany shavings from
the same sawmill floors in Brazil are swept up and sold around the world as “pau d’arco” (due to
the similarity in color and odor of the two woods). In 1987, a chemical analysis of 12 commercially-available pau d’arco products revealed only one product containing lapachol—and only in trace
amounts. As lapachol concentration typically is 2–7% in true pau d’arco, the study surmised that
the products were not truly pau d’arco, or that processing and transportation had damaged them.
Most pau d’arco research has centered on the heartwood of the tree.
Most of the commercially-available products, though, contain the inner and outer bark of the tree—which is stripped off at
sawmills when the heartwood is milled into lumber for construction materials. Additionally, at least
10 species of Tabebuia are logged commercially in South America for lumber purposes alone.
When these logs arrive at lumber mills, the identifying leaves and flowers (which distinguish the tree
species) are long gone—it’s all just “pau d’arco.” This may explain varying species of pau d’arco
bark being sold as herbal products—and their resulting (diminished) quality. Finally, many
consumers and practitioners are unaware that, for the best results when extracting these particular
active chemicals (even after obtaining the correct species), the bark and/or wood must be boiled
at least 8–10 minutes—rather than brewed as a simple tea or infusion (lapachol and the other
quinoids are not very water soluble).
It is therefore not surprising that consumers and practitioners are experiencing spotty results
with commercially-available pau d’arco products. With its many effective applications, however, it
would behoove consumers to take the time to learn about the available products and suppliers, and
find a reliable source for this important medicinal plant from the rainforest. Relatively new in the
marketplace are standardized extracts of pau d’arco (that guarantee the amount of lapachol and/or
naphthoquinones). In such a product, it would be unclear if other active quinones have been
extracted (and to what extent) in these chemically-altered products. Although the natural wood and
bark are quite effective when the correct species is used and prepared properly, the new
standardized extracts may be the safer (although more expensive) purchase for most laypersons
and general consumers concerned about quality but which don’t have the time to research each
There have been no reports of human toxicity when a whole-bark decoction or tincture of
pau d’arco is used. The oral LD50 dosage for lapachol is reported to be 1.2–2.4 g/kg (body weight)
in rats and 487–621 mg/kg in mice. Good quality pau d’arco (Tabebuia impetiginosa) contains an
average of 4% lapachol (or 40 mg of lapachol per gram of pau d’arco bark/wood).
| PAU D'ARCO PLANT SUMMARY |
Main Preparation Method: tincture or decoction |
Main Actions (in order):
anticandidal, antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, anticancerous
Properties/Actions Documented by Research:
- for Candida, yeast, and other fungal infections (taken internally and used as a douche or topically).
- for leukemia and cancer
- for colds, flu, and other upper-respiratory bacterial and viral infections
- for sexually transmitted diseases (syphilis, gonorrhea, etc.)
- for psoriasis and dermatitis
analgesic (pain-reliever), antibacterial, anticancerous, anticandidal, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antileukemic, antimalarial, antiparasitic, antitumorous, antiviral, insecticidal
Other Properties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use:
anti-allergy, antiulcerous , anticoagulant (blood thinner), antidysenteric, antioxidant, anti-rheumatic, antivenin, astringent, cardiotonic (tones, balances, strengthens the heart), hepatotonic (tones, balances, strengthens the liver), immunostimulant, laxative
Cautions: In excessive amounts, it may cause gastrointestinal upset or nausea.
Traditional Preparation: One-half to one cup bark and/or heartwood decoction taken orally 2-4 times daily. (Do not prepare an infusion/tea for this plant-it will not be as effective.) This decoction also is employed traditionally as a douche for yeast infections (use once daily for three consecutive days) and is used topically on the skin for skin fungi (such as nail fungus and athlete's foot).
Contraindications: There have been no reports in the literature of contraindications when a whole-bark decoction or tincture is used. However, at least one isolated phytochemical in pau d’arco
(lapachol) has demonstrated abortifacient properties in animal studies. As there are no studies
confirming the safety of traditional bark decoctions used by pregnant women (nor is there indication
in traditional medicine systems using this plant during pregnancy), the use of pau d’arco during
pregnancy is not recommended.
Large single dosages of pau d’arco decoctions (more than one cup) may cause
gastrointestinal upset and/or nausea. Do not use in high doses unless under the advice of a
qualified health practitioner; reduce dosage if nausea occurs.
Drug Interactions: None reported.
WORLDWIDE ETHNOBOTANICAL USES
||for colds, cough, fever, flu, leishmaniasis, sores, urinary tract infections|
||for diarrhea, respiratory infections, urinary tract infections|
||for backaches, gonorrhea, incontinence, toothache, urinary disorders|
||for allergies, arthritis, asthma, athlete's foot, bacterial infections, bed-wetting, blood builder, boils, bursitis, cancer, cancer pain, candida, circulation (poor), colds, colitis, constipation, cystitis, diabetes, dysentery, eczema, fever, flu, fungal infections, gastritis, gingivitis, gonorrhea, hernia, hemorrhoid, hemorrhages, herpes, Hodgkin's disease, immune disorders, impetigo, inflammation, itch, leishmaniasis, leukemia, liver disorders, malaria, parasites, prostatitis, psoriasis, respiratory problems, rheumatism, ringworm, scabies, skin problems, snakebite, sore throat, stomatitis, stomach problems, syphilis, throat (sore), tendonitis, ulcers, urinary tract infections, uterine disorders, vaginal discharge, varicose veins, warts, wounds, and as a astringent, diuretic, pain-reliever and tonic|
||for cancer, colds, fever, headaches, snakebites|
||for anemia, fever |
||or allergies, anemia, arthritis, bacterial infections, boils, cancer, candida, circulation problems, colitis, colds, constipation, cough, cystitis, diabetes, diarrhea, dysentery, fever, flu, fungal infections, gastritis, gastrointestinal problems, inflammation, malaria, pharyngitis, prostatitis, respiratory diseases, snakebites, syphilis, ulcers, urinary disorders |
||for allergies, anti-inflammatory, arthritis, bacterial infections, boils, cancer, candida, circulation disturbances, colds, constipation, diabetes, dysentery, fevers, flu, fungal infections, gastrointestinal problems, Hodgkin's disease, inflammation, leukemia, liver disease, lupus, osteomyelitis, parasites, Parkinson's disease, prostatitis, psoriasis, respiratory problems, skin ulcerations, syphilis, ulcers, urinary tract infections, viral infections, warts, and as a pain-reliever, and antioxidant|
REFERENCED QUOTES ON PAU D'ARCO
The above text has been printed from The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs by Leslie Taylor, copyrighted © 2005
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1. "Pau d' Arco has been revered by the Rainforest Indians for centuries. It is one of the most useful Brazilian herbs. It is called the "divine tree." It is helpful in rheumatism and arthritic inflammation, prostatitis, cystitis, and beneficial for controlling fungus and yeast overgrowth in the body. This multi-purpose herb helps prevent tumor formation and is thought to eliminate toxins and purify the blood. Pau d' Arco became very popular in 1967 after Dr. Walter Accorsi of the Municipal Hospital in Santo Andre talked to a magazine reporter who printed his story. He said:- "From my first experiments with Ipe Roxo (Pau d'Arco), I learned two important things which, greatly encouraged me in regards to cancer: First, that it eliminates the pain caused by the disease; and second, that it multiplies the number of red blood cells." This bark is used to treat stomatitis (swelling of the mucus membranes in the mouth), ulcers in the throat, gastric ulcers, syphilitic chancres, itchiness, wounds, eczema, and boils."
2. "Brazilians call pau d'arco the "divine tree." It helps to increase red blood cell production and helps respiratory disorders, ulcers, candida excess, and athlete's foot. Pau d'arco can fortify the blood, helps to dissolve phlegm and is an antifungal. Research in both the United States and South America shows that pau d'arco has ingredients found to be effective against some forms of cancer and parasites. It helps lower blood sugar levels and promotes digestion. Lapachol, from pau d'arco, was recently listed by Purdue University as among the most important antitumor agents from plants."
3. "ACTIONS: Fortifies blood, Antifungal activity, Combats Candida overgrowth. TRADITIONAL USE: Pau D'Arco tea has been revered by the Indians for centuries as one of the most useful Brazilian herbs. They call it the "Divine Tree'. It has been the subject of experiments with encouraging results. Dr. Walter Accorsi, in an article March 1967, states it multiplies the amount of red corpuscles. Experiments have been conducted at the Municipal Hospital at Santo Andre, Sao Paulo using Pau D'Arco in the treatment of respiratory problems, ulcers and a variety of other ailments. Pau D'Arco is highly regarded for its effectiveness in controlling Candida excess. MERIDIAN INDICATIONS: Disperses damp, Dissolves phlegm, Aids regulation of Lung / Stomach, Relieves stagnation in all meridians. EVA POINTS: Liver, Kidney, Large and Small Intestine."
5. "Bitter herb that contains a natural antibacterial agent, has a healing effect, and cleans the blood. Good for candidiasis, smoker's cough, warts, all types of infection, diabetes, ulcers, rheumatism, allergies, tumors, AIDS, leukemia, cancer, and liver disease. NOTE: Resistant strains of Candida develop rapidly due to genetic mutation. Rotating treatment programs will be beneficial."
8. "Brazilian uses and Folklore: If you stop any Brazilian on the street and ask him "What is Ipe Roxo?"... not only will he know immediately what you are talking about, he will begin to explain enthusiastically the wonders and uses of the tea made from the inner bark. Ipe Roxo is undoubtedly one of the most valued and useful of all Brazilian herbs. Used as a health tonic and revered by the Indians for centuries, Ipe Roxo first came to the attention of botanists and doctors about 100 years ago. Since then, the uses and wonders of this tree have been studied and prescribed. In March of 1967 "O Cruzeiro" magazine published an article about the results doctors were getting with the tea at the municipal hospital in Santo Andre, Sao Paulo. The article quotes Dr. Walter Accorsi, as stating: "From my first experiments with it [IPE ROXO], I learned two important things which greatly encouraged me in regard to cancer: Firstly, Pau D'Arco eliminates the pain caused by the disease; and secondly, it multiplies the amount of red corpuscle. Our amazement grew: This bark cured everything! Ulcers, diabetes, and rheumatism - the medicine cleared them all up".After the publication of this article, the demand for Ipe Roxo grew tenfold and today Ipe Roxo bark, extract and homeopathic mother tincture are to be found in health food stores, drugstores and pharmacies all over Brazil. Ipe Roxo can be taken alone, or with other herbal teas for which it acts as a catalyst. Uses:Influential in the treatment of symptoms of: cancer, diabetes, respiratory problems, ulcers, colitis, arthritis, rheumatism, poor circulation, prostatitis, cystitis, constipation."
11. "Pau d' Arco is thought to eliminate toxins in the body and purify the blood, and it has anti-fungal properties. In an original weight loss research study performed in Chicago in 1992, I found that women's chronic yeast infections cleared up promptly when Pau d'Arco was added to the formula. Pau d'Arco also has anti-inflammatory characteristics, making it useful in the treatment of arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Some researchers report its ability to increase red blood cell counts and eliminate some symptoms associated with cancer."
13. "During the past century, LaPacho has come under scientific scrutiny. The first active constituent to be studied was lapachol; however, it is interesting to note that many of the studies show significantly better results with the whole extract and diminishing effectiveness as the extracts are refined or individual chemicals are tested."
14. "The native Indians of Brazil, northern Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and other South American countries have used lapacho [T. impetiginosa] for medicinal purposes for thousands of years; there are indication that its use may actually antedate the Incas. Lapacho is applied externally and internally for the treatment of fevers, infections, colds, flu, dysentery, gastrointestinal problems of all kinds, debilitating conditions such as arthritis and prostatitis, and circulatory disturbances. Other conditions reportedly cured with lapacho include lupus, diabetes, Hodgkin's disease, osteomyelitis, Parkinson's disease and psoriasis...
Independent of Meyer, a Physician in Brazil, about 1960, after hearing a tale of its miraculous curative powers, used lapacho to treat his brother who was lying in a Santa Andre, Brazil hospital, dying of cancer. His brother recovered, and the physician, Dr. Orlando dei Santi, began to use the herb to treat cancer patients at the hospital. other physicians joined the team and after a few months, several cures were recorded. In the typical case, pain disappeared rapidly and sometimes complete remission was achieved in as little as four weeks. Because of the work at the Municipal Hospital of Santo Andre, lapacho has become a standard form of treatment for some kinds of cancer and for all kinds of infections in medical establishments throughout Brazil. It should be noted that after the first reports of "miraculous" herbal cures appeared in Brazil, the national government ordered a blackout of any more public statements by doctors involved in the research. The silence was finally broken by Alec De Montmorency, who in 1981 published a lengthy review of the ongoing clinical work in Brazil. This report succeeded in stimulating worldwide interest in the plant."
Tabebuia has approximately 100 species of evergreen trees or shrubs native to the warmer parts of the Americas. Several chemical compounds have been identified in the genus; lapachol is common (Paredes, 1975). The constituents of the following species have been summarized: T. guyacan (Manners, 1977), T pallida (Prakash, 1980a; Prakash, 1980), T. rosea (Nair, 1982) and T. chrysantha (Wasicky, 1967). Naphtho- and anthraquinones have been isolated from tissue cultures of T. lepidota (Cuellar-C., 1979), T. argentea (Inouye, 1982), T. pentaphylla (Rohatgi, 1983) and T. cassinoides (Rao, 1982). Iridoid glycosides have been reported from T. heptaphylla (Bianco, 1983). Antiinflammatory, antimicrobial and antineoplastic activities have been reported for extracts of T. avellanedae (Goncalves de Lima, 1971; Oga, 1969)."
Third-Party Published Research
All available third-party research on pau d'arco can be found at PubMed/Medline. A partial listing of the third-party published research on pau d'arco is shown below:
Antimicrobial Actions (fungi, yeast, bacteria, and virus):
Pau d'arco contains a plant chemical named lapachol which has documented antimalarial, antiseptic, antiviral, bactericidal, fungicidal, insecticidal, pesticidal, schistosomicidal, termiticidal, and viricidal actions. Another chemical in the bark, beta-lapachone, has been demonstrated in laboratory studies to have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral actions. Antimicrobial properties of many of pau d'arco's other active phytochemicals were demonstrated in several laboratory studies, in which they exhibited strong in vitro activity against bacteria, fungi, and yeast (including Candida, Aspergillus, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Helicobacter pylori, Brucella, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and dysentery). In addition to its isolated chemicals, a hot water extract of pau d'arco demonstrated antibacterial actions against Staphylococcus aureus, Helicobacter pylori, and Brucella. In other in vitro clinical research an extract of the bark was shown to have strong activity against 11 fungal and yeast strains. Pau d'arco and its chemicals also have demonstrated in vitro antiviral properties against various viruses, including Herpes I and II, influenza, polio virus, and vesicular stomatitis virus.
Hofling, J., et al. "Antimicrobial potential of some plant extracts against Candida species." Braz J Biol. 2010 Nov;70(4):1065-8.
Melo e Silva, F., et al. "Evaluation of the antifungal potential of Brazilian Cerrado medicinal plants."
Mycoses. 2009 Nov;52(6):511-7.
Pereira, E. M., et al. "Tabebuia avellanedae naphthoquinones: activity against methicillin-resistant staphylococcal strains, cytotoxic activity and in vivo dermal irritability analysis." Ann. Clin. Microbiol. Antimicrob. 2006 Mar; 5: 5.
Park, B. S., et al. "Antibacterial activity of Tabebuia impetiginosa Martius ex DC (Taheebo) against Helicobacter pylori." J. Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Apr; 105(1-2): 255-62.
Park, B. S., et al. “Selective growth-inhibiting effects of compounds identified in Tabebuia impetiginosa inner bark on human intestinal bacteria.” J. Agric. Food Chem. 2005 Feb; 23;53(4): 1152-7.
Park, B. S., et al. “Antibacterial activity of Tabebuia impetiginosa Martius ex DC (Taheebo) against Helicobacter pylori.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Dec;
Machado, T. B., et al. “In vitro activity of Brazilian medicinal plants, naturally occurring naphthoquinones and their analogues, against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.” Int. J. Antimicrob. Agents. 2003; 21(3): 279-84.
Portillo, A., et al. “Antifungal activity of Paraguayan plants used in traditional medicine.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2001; 76(1): 93–8.
Nagata, K., et al. “Antimicrobial activity of novel furanonaphthoquinone analogs.” Antimicrobial Agents Chemother. 1998; 42(3): 700–2.
Binutu, O. A., et al. “Antimicrobial potentials of some plant species of the Bignoniaceae family.” Afr. J. Med. Sci. 1994; 23(3): 269–73.
Giuraud, P., et al. “Comparison of antibacterial and antifungal activities of lapachol and b-lapachone.” Planta Med. 1994; 60: 373–74.
Li, C. J., et al. “Three inhibitors of type 1 human immunodeficiency virus long terminal repeat-directed gene expression and virus replication.” Proc. Nat’l. Acad. Sci. USA 1993; 90(5): 1839–42.
Anesini, C., et al. “Screening of plants used in Argentine folk medicine for antimicrobial activity.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1993; 39(2): 119–28.
Lagrota, M., et al. “Antiviral activity of lapachol.” Rev. Microbiol. 1983; 14: 21–6.
Gershon, H., et al. “Fungitoxicity of 1,4-naphthoquinonoes to Candida albicans and Trichophyton menta grophytes.” Can. J. Microbiol. 1975; 21: 1317–21.
Linhares, M. S., et al. “Estudo sobre of efeito de substancias antibioticas obitdas de Streptomyces e vegatais superiores sobre o herpesvirus hominis.” Revista Instituto Antibioticos, Recife 1975; 15: 25–32.
Anticancerous & Antileukemic Actions:
In the 1960s, extracts of pau d'arco demonstrated marked antitumorous effects in animals, which drew the interest of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Researchers decided that the most potent single chemical for this activity was a naphthoquinone chemical named lapachol and they concentrated solely on this single chemical in their subsequent cancer research. In a 1968 study, lapachol demonstrated highly significant activity against cancerous tumors in rats.
By 1970, NCI-backed research already was testing lapachol in human cancer patients. The institute reported, however, that their first Phase I study failed to produce a therapeutic effect without side effects—and they discontinued further cancer research shortly thereafter. These side effects were nausea and vomiting and anti-vitamin K activity. Interestingly, other chemicals in the whole plant extract (which, initially, showed positive antitumor effects at very low toxicity) demonstrated positive effects on vitamin K and, conceivably, compensated for lapachol's negative effect. Once again, instead of pursuing research on a complex combination of at least 20 active chemicals in a whole plant extract (several of which had anti-tumor effects and other positive biological activities), research focused on a single, patentable chemical—and it didn't work as well. Despite NCI's abandonment of the research, another group developed a lapachol analog (which was patentable) in 1975. One study reported that this lapachol analog increased the life span of mice inoculated with leukemic cells by over 80%. In a small, uncontrolled, 1980 study of nine human patients with various cancers (liver, kidney, breast, prostate, and cervix), pure lapachol was reported to shrink tumors and reduce pain caused by them—and three of the patients realized complete remissions.
Another chemical in pau d'arco, beta-lapachone, has been studied closely of late and a number of recent patents have been filed on it. It has demonstrated in laboratory studies to have activities similar to lapachol (antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, antitumorous, antileukemic, and anti-inflammatory), with few side effects. Research published from 2003 to 2005 provides important new insights into the possible molecular mechanisms of the anti-cancer activity of beta-lapachone specifically against prostate, colon, pancreatic, and lung cancers. In a 2002 U.S. patent, beta-lapachone was cited to have significant anticancerous activity against human cancer cell lines including: promyelocytic leukemia, prostate, malignant glioma, colon, hepatoma, breast, ovarian, pancreatic, multiple myeloma cell lines and drug-resistant cell lines. In yet another U.S. patent, beta-lapachone was cited with the in vivo ability to inhibit the growth of prostate tumors.
Costa, W., et al. "Lapachol as an epithelial tumor inhibitor agent in Drosophila melanogaster heterozygote for tumor suppressor gene wts." Genet Mol Res. 2011 Dec 22;10(4):3236-45.
Sichaem, J., et al. "Tabebuialdehydes A-C, cyclopentene dialdehyde derivatives from the roots of Tabebuia rosea."
Fitoterapia. 2012 Dec;83(8):1456-9.
Garkavtsev, I., et al. "Dehydro-alpha-lapachone, a plant product with antivascular activity." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jul 12;108(28):11596-601.
Higa, R., et al. "Study of the antineoplastic action of Tabebuia avellanedae in carcinogenesis induced by azoxymethane in mice." Acta Cir Bras. 2011 Apr;26(2):125-8.
Moon, D., et al. "Beta-lapachone (LAPA) decreases cell viability and telomerase activity in leukemia cells: suppression of telomerase activity by LAPA." J Med Food. 2010 Jun;13(3):481-8.
Mukherjee, B., et al. "Growth inhibition of estrogen receptor positive human breast cancer cells by Taheebo from the inner bark of Tabebuia avellandae tree." Int J Mol Med. 2009 Aug;24(2):253-60.
Yamashita, M., et al. "Synthesis and evaluation of bioactive naphthoquinones from the Brazilian medicinal plant, Tabebuia avellanedae." Bioorg Med Chem. 2009 Sep 1;17(17):6286-91.
de Sousa, N., et al. "Modulatory effects of Tabebuia impetiginosa (Lamiales, Bignoniaceae) on doxorubicin-induced somatic mutation and recombination in Drosophila melanogaster" Genet Mol Biol. 2009 Apr-Jun; 32(2): 382–388.
Queiroz, M., et al. "Comparative studies of the effects of Tabebuia avellanedae bark extract and beta-lapachone on the hematopoietic response of tumour-bearing mice." J Ethnopharmacol. 2008 May 8;117(2):228-35.
Kim, S., et al. "Induction of Egr-1 is associated with anti-metastatic and anti-invasive ability of beta-lapachone in human hepatocarcinoma cells." Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2007 Sep;71(9):2169-76.
Larsson, D. E., et al. "Identification and evaluation of potential anti-cancer drugs on human neuroendocrine tumor cell lines." Anticancer Res. 2006 Nov-Dec; 26(6B): 4125-9.
Bey, E. A., et al. "Mornings with Art, lessons learned: feedback regulation, restriction threshold biology, and redundancy govern molecular stress responses." J. Cell Physiol. 2006 Dec; 209(3): 604-10.
Kung, H. N., et al. "Involvement of NO/cGMP signaling in the apoptotic and anti-angiogenic effects of beta-lapachone on endothelial cells in vitro." J. Cell Physiol. 2006 Dec 27;
Bentle, M. S., et al. "Calcium-dependent modulation of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 alters cellular metabolism and DNA repair." J. Biol. Chem. 2006 Nov; 281(44): 33684-96.
Sun, X., et al. "Selective induction of necrotic cell death in cancer cells by beta-lapachone through activation of DNA damage response pathway." Cell Cycle. 2006 Sep; 5(17): 2029-35.
Woo, H. J., et al. "Beta-lapachone, a quinone isolated from Tabebuia avellanedae, induces apoptosis in HepG2 hepatoma cell line through induction of Bax and activation of caspase." J. Med. Food. 2006 Summer; 9(2):161-8.
Suzuki, M., et al. "Synergistic effects of radiation and beta-lapachone in DU-145 human prostate cancer cells in vitro." Radiat. Res. 2006; 165(5): 525-31.
Lee, J. I., et al. "Beta-lapachone induces growth inhibition and apoptosis in bladder cancer cells by modulation of Bcl-2 family and activation of caspases." Exp. Oncol. 2006 Mar; 28(1): 30-5.
Lee, J. H., et al. “Down-regulation of cyclooxygenase-2 and telomerase activity by beta-lapachone in human prostate carcinoma cells.” Pharmacol. Res. 2005; 51(6): 553-60.
Reinicke, K. E., et al. “Development of beta-lapachone prodrugs for therapy against human cancer cells with elevated NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase 1 levels.” Clin. Cancer Res. 2005 Apr; 11(8): 3055-64.
Woo, H. J., et al. “Growth inhibition of A549 human lung carcinoma cells by beta-lapachone through induction of apoptosis and inhibition of telomerase activity.” Int. J. Oncol. 2005; 26(4): 1017-23.
Park, H. J., et al. “Heat-induced up-regulation of NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase potentiates anticancer effects of beta-lapachone.” Clin. Cancer Res. 2005 Dec; 11(24 Pt 1): 8866-71.
Balassiano, I. T., et al. “Demonstration of the lapachol as a potential drug for reducing cancer metastasis. Oncol. Rep. 2005; 13(2): 329-33.
Ough, M., et al. "Efficacy of beta-lapachone in pancreatic cancer treatment: exploiting the novel, therapeutic target NQO1." Cancer Biol. Ther. 2005 Jan; 4(1): 95-102.
Park, H. J., et al. "Susceptibility of cancer cells to beta-lapachone is enhanced by ionizing radiation." Int. J. Radiat. Oncol. Biol. Phys. 2005 Jan; 61(1): 212-9.
Kumi-Diaka, J., et al. "Potential mechanism of phytochemical-induced apoptosis in human prostate adenocarcinoma cells: Therapeutic synergy in genistein and beta-lapachone combination treatment." Cancer Cell Int. 2004 Aug; 4(1): 5.
Choi, B. T., et al. “beta-Lapachone-induced apoptosis is associated with activation of caspase-3 and inactivation of NF-kappaB in human colon cancer HCT-116 cells.” Anticancer Drugs. 2003 Nov; 14(10): 845-50.
Renou, S. G., et al. “Monoarylhydrazones of alpha-lapachone: synthesis, chemical properties and antineoplastic activity.” Pharmazie. 2003 Oct; 58(10): 690-5.
Choi, Y. H., et al. “Suppression of human prostate cancer cell growth by beta-Lapachone via down-regulation of PRB phosphorylation and induction of Cdk Inhibitor p21(WAF1/CIP1).” J. Biochem. Mol. Biol. 2003 Mar; 36(2): 223-9.
Colman de Saizarbitoria, T., et al. “Bioactive furonaphtoquinones from Tabebuia barbata (Bignoniaceae).” Acta Cient. Venez. 1997; 48(1): 42-6.
Ueda, S., et al. “Production of anti-tumour-promoting furanonaphthoquinones in Tabebuia avellanedae cell cultures.” Phytochemistry. 1994 May; 36(2): 323-5.
Schuerch, A. R., et al. “B-Lapachone, an inhibitor of oncornavirus reverse transcriptase and eukarotic DBA Polymerase-A. Inhibitory effect, thiol dependency and specificity.” Eur. J. Biochem. 1978; 84: 197–205.
Linardi, M. D. C., et al. “A lapachol derivative active against mouse lymphocyte leukemia P-388.” J. Med. Chem. 1975; 18(11): 1159–62.
Block, J. B., et al. “Early clinical studies with lapachol (NSC-11905).” Cancer Chemother. Rep. 1974; 4: 27–8.
Santana, C. F., et al. “Preliminary observation with the use of lapachol in human patients bearing malignant neoplasms.” Revista do Instituto de Antibioticos 1971; 20: 61–8.
Rao, K. V., et al. “Recognition and evaluation of lapachol as an antitumor agent.” Canc. Res. 1968; 28: 1952–54.
Xu, J., et al. "Beta-Lapachone ameliorization of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis." J Neuroimmunol. 2012 Sep 22. doi:pii: S0165-5728(12)00277-9.
Bohler, T., et al. "Tabebuia avellanedae extracts inhibit IL-2-independent T-lymphocyte activation and proliferation." Transpl Immunol. 2008 Feb;18(4):319-23.
Anti-inflammatory, Immunomodulatory, & Pain-Relieving Actions:
Lee, M., et al. "Analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects in animal models of an ethanolic extract of Taheebo, the inner bark of Tabebuia avellanedae." Mol Med Report. 2012 Oct;6(4):791-6
Suo, M., et al. "Anti-inflammatory constituents from Tabebuia avellanedae." Fitoterapia. 2012 Dec;83(8):1484-8.
Byeon, S., et al. "In vitro and in vivo anti-inflammatory effects of taheebo, a water extract from the inner bark of Tabebuia avellanedae." J Ethnopharmacol. 2008 Sep 2;119(1):145-52.
Awale, S., et al. ”Nitric oxide (NO) production inhibitory constituents of Tabebuia avellanedae from Brazil.” Chem. Pharm. Bull. 2005; 53(6): 710-3.
Lee, J. H., et al. "Down-regulation of cyclooxygenase-2 and telomerase activity by beta-lapachone in human prostate carcinoma cells." Pharmacol. Res. 2005; 51(6): 553-60.
de Miranda, F. G., et al. “Antinociceptive and antiedematogenic properties and acute toxicity of Tabebuia avellanedae Lor. ex Griseb. inner bark aqueous extract.” BMC. Pharmacol. 2001; 1(1): 6.
Oga, S., et al. “Toxicidade e atividade anti-inflamatoria de Tabebuia avellanedae Lorentz (‘Ipe Roxo’).” Rev. Fac. Farm. Bioquim. 1969; 7: 4.
Muller, K., et al. “Potential antipsoriatic agents: lapacho compounds as potent inhibitors of HaCaT cell growth.” J. Nat. Prod. 1999; 62(8): 1134–36.
Freitas, A., et al. "Antidepressant-like action of the bark ethanolic extract from Tabebuia avellanedae in the olfactory bulbectomized mice." J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Dec 10.
Freitas, A., et al. "Antidepressant-like action of the ethanolic extract from Tabebuia avellanedae in mice: evidence for the involvement of the monoaminergic system." Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2010 Mar 17;34(2):335-43.
Anti-Ulcer & Gastroprotective Actions:
Theoduloz, C., et al. "Potential gastroprotective effect of novel cyperenoic acid/quinone derivatives in human cell cultures." Planta Med. 2012 Nov;78(17):1807-12.
Pereira, I., et al. "Antiulcer Effect of Bark Extract of Tabebuia avellanedae: Activation of Cell Proliferation in Gastric Mucosa During the Healing Process." Phytother Res. 2012 Sep 12. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4835. [Epub ahead of print]
Twardowschy, A., et al. "Antiulcerogenic activity of bark extract of Tabebuia avellanedae, Lorentz ex Griseb." J Ethnopharmacol. 2008 Aug 13;118(3):455-9.
Kiage-Mokua, B., et al. "Lapacho Tea (Tabebuia impetiginosa) Extract Inhibits Pancreatic Lipase and Delays Postprandial Triglyceride Increase in Rats." Phytother Res. 2012 Dec;26(12):1878-83.
Coelho, J., et al. "[Effects of silver sulfadiazine, ipê roxo (tabebuia avellanedae) extract and barbatimão (stryphnodendron adstringens) extract on cutaneous wound healing in rats]." Rev Col Bras Cir. 2010 Feb;37(1):45-51.
Kung, H., et al. "In vitro and in vivo wound healing-promoting activities of beta-lapachone." Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2008 Oct;295(4):C931-43.
Park, B. S., et al. “Antioxidant activity and characterization of volatile constituents of Taheebo (Tabebuia impetiginosa Martius ex DC).” J. Agric. Food Chem. 2003; 51(1): 295-300.
Nunez, V., et al. “Neutralization of the edema-forming, defibrinating and coagulant effects of Bothrops asper venom by extracts of plants used by healers in Colombia.” Braz. J. Med. Biol. Res. 2004; 37(7): 969-77.
Otero, R., et al. “Snakebites and ethnobotany in the northwest region of Colombia. Part III: neutralization of the haemorrhagic effect of Bothrops atrox venom.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2000 Nov; 73(1-2): 233-41.
Otero, R., et al. “Snakebites and ethnobotany in the northwest region of Colombia: Part II: neutralization of lethal and enzymatic effects of Bothrops atrox venom.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2000 Aug; 71(3): 505-11.
Anti-Parasitic & Anti-Malarial Actions:
González-Coloma, A., et al. "Antileishmanial, antitrypanosomal, and cytotoxic screening of ethnopharmacologically selected Peruvian plants." Parasitol Res. 2012 Apr;110(4):1381-92.
Silva, T., et al. "Molluscicidal activities of six species of Bignoniaceae from north-eastern Brazil, as measured against Biomphalaria glabrata under laboratory conditions." Ann Trop Med Parasitol. 2007 Jun;101(4):359-65.
Ferreira, V. F., et al. "Trypanocidal agents with low cytotoxicity to mammalian cell line: a comparison of the theoretical and biological features of lapachone derivatives." Bioorg. Med. Chem. 2006 Aug; 14(16): 5459-66.
Silva, R. S., et al. "Synthesis of naphthofuranquinones with activity against Trypanosoma cruzi." Eur. J. Med. Chem. 2006 Apr; 41(4): 526-30.
Menna-Barreto, R. F., et al. "Effect of a beta-lapachone-derived naphthoimidazole on Trypanosoma cruzi: identification of target organelles." J. Antimicrob. Chemother. 2005 Dec; 56(6): 1034-41.
Perez-Sacau, E., et al. "Antiplasmodial activity of naphthoquinones related to lapachol and beta-lapachone." Chem. Biodivers. 2005; 2(2): 264-74.
Lima, N. M., et al. "Antileishmanial activity of lapachol analogues." Mem. Inst. Oswaldo Cruz. 2004 Nov; 99(7): 757-61.
de Andrade-Neto, V. F., et al. "Antimalarial activity of phenazines from lapachol, beta-lapachone and its derivatives against Plasmodium falciparum in vitro and Plasmodium berghei in vivo." Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2004 Mar; 14(5): 1145-9.
Pinto, C. N., et al. “Chemical reactivity studies with naphthoquinones from Tabebuia with anti-trypanosomal efficacy.” Arzneimittelforschung. 2000; 50(12): 1120-8.
Austin, F. R. “Schistosoma mansoni chemoprophylaxis with dietary lapachol.” Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 1979; 23: 412–19.
Gilbert, B., et al. “Schistosomiasis. Protection against infection by terpenoids.” An. Acad. Brasil. Cienc. 1970; 2 (Suppl): 397–400.
Lemos, O., et al. "Genotoxic effects of Tabebuia impetiginosa (Mart. Ex DC.) Standl. (Lamiales, Bignoniaceae) extract in Wistar rats." Genet Mol Biol. 2012 Apr-Jun; 35(2): 498–502.
de Sousa, N., et al. "Modulatory effects of Tabebuia impetiginosa (Lamiales, Bignoniaceae) on doxorubicin-induced somatic mutation and recombination in Drosophila melanogaster" Genet Mol Biol. 2009 Apr-Jun; 32(2): 382–388.
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