Pau d’arco, from the Lapacho tree, has been studied by many people, cultures and institutions showing one similar finding: it is a bark with unbelievable health benefits. Pau d’arco comes from an evergreen tree that grows in South America. Because this tree (Tabebuia avellanedae) is now endangered, people are harvesting tree bark from similar species with intentions of either curing disease or turning profits. The greatest attribute found in this tree bark is a possible cure for cancer.
The University of Maryland Medical Center found that the bark of the Lapacho tree has anti-cancer properties, and is also anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, antifungal and antibacterial. Not much testing has been done on humans, but unconfirmed studies by researchers show that the bark stimulates immune system cells called macrophages. The bark extract reportedly kills lung and liver cancer cells that are grown in test tubes.
The tea, which is often called Taheebo tea, is hard to mix with water but has been reported to have cured some people’s illnesses. On the CureZone website is a testimonial that claims the tea cured lymphoma in a man who was diagnosed and told he would only live a matter of months. In 2009, Anna Hodgekiss from Mail Online reported a woman who had been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and set out on a venture to cure the ailment by eating various tree barks. She did not specify the bark she might have eaten over the years, but her physician says there is no trace of Crohn’s disease in her body now. The woman reports selling the beneficial bark to a “pharmaceutical giant.”
Common uses of Pau d’arco listed by the University of Maryland Medical Center are for the treatments of candidiasis, herpes simplex virus, influenza, parasitic diseases, bacterial infection and cancer. Louise Tenney writes in the Cancer News Journal that this tree bark, often referred to as Taheebo, Ipe Roxo, Lapacho and Pau d’arco, has curative powers that have time and again relieved “thousands of people with untold suffering.”
Distributors with the Taheebo Tea Club report a client has cured a skin condition in their dog. The owner of the Taheebo Tea Club also stands by his belief that the cure for cancer is in this tree bark. The group claims to have cured brain cancer in a client, and to have also cured cancer of the colon that was diagnosed in the owner’s father. Although the tree that produces this famous bark is endangered, the Taheebo Tea Club claims there is no need to kill the tree just to harvest the bark. Their method strips the wood in a way that leaves the tree standing for another harvest.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports high levels of bark extract has the potential to be poisonous. But there was one study conducted in the 1970s by the National Cancer Institute that found no toxic effects on liver or kidney tissue.
Another risk the ACS reports comes from the products being falsely advertised as Pau d’arco when they are actually other tree barks. Twelve sample products were tested in Canada, and the study showed that only one contained lapochol, which is an ingredient in pure Pau d’arco.
The University of Maryland Medical Center warns people that this bark in high doses can cause uncontrollable bleeding, as it is thought to be a blood thinner (others report this is a blood builder and a tonic that is used to treat anemia). The uncommon side effects of Pau d’arco include “anemia, nausea, diarrhea, and dizziness.” So, it is hard to tell how beneficial this herb exactly is, but people around the world want to see firsthand if the cure for cancer really is in this tree bark.
By Lindsey Alexander