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Herbal Spotlight: A Look Into Pau D’arco


With our newest tea addition, VICTRESS, we wanted to highlight a few not-as-well known herbs and the powerful immune boosting properties they have! Pau D'Arco, the bark of a tree, was a must-have ingredient for this immune-boosting blend.

A tall, native tree from the Amazon forest and tropical regions of both South and Central America. Pau D’arco can grow up to one hundred and twenty-five feet, and sprouts beautiful, vibrant colored flowers. Its wood is incredibly dense, and resistant to rotting. Natives use it for making hunting bows, hence its namesake translating into “bow tree” from Portuguese. (Other names include “bow stick” and “bow stem”.) The inner bark of the tree is conventionally used and applied medicinally. Historical use of Pau D’arco is said to date as far back as the Incas, and lives on today in modern herbalism. [1]
Though it can be made into a tincture or encapsulated supplement, Pau D’arco is typically brewed into a tea, which is said to carry a bitter, woody flavor. [2]

Inside Pau D’arco

What makes Pau D’arco so special is its nutritional content. A number of active compounds have been identified in the tea, such as quinoids, benzenoids, flavonoids, and the napthoquinones lapachol and beta-lapachone. The last two in particular have been shown to be anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-parasite. In the case of lapachol, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has identified it as both “toxic and resistant to practically all types of harmful organisms”. [3]. These same compounds have also been shown to be potent anti-inflammatory agents. [4]

Pau d’Arco also contains trace amounts of selenium, an important mineral and antioxidant known to help defend against free radical damage and inflammation while supporting immune function, metabolism, and thyroid health. [5]


First of all, if you suspect you have candida, which is an overgrowth of opportunistic yeast, please see a doctor before going out on a limb and treating it yourself. Whether it is a licensed naturopath or allopathic physician, there are a number of ways to address it. And one item on the list of natural anti-fungals includes our friend Pau D’arco! [6] Researchers in a 2007 study reported Pau D’arco’s lapachol content had significant effects against two strains of candida- albicans and tropicalis- that was en par with that of conventional pharmaceutical drugs. [7]

Pain and Inflammation

Pau D’arco’s rich assortment of compounds has also been shown to be quite effective in the face of inflammation. According to research, Pau D’arco is capable of enhancing specific types of proteins that help to protect the body against inflammation. Specifically, the ones in the intestines, which suggests it could help to address pro-inflammatory conditions like Ulcerative Colitis. [8] This is no surprise, since another study from 2013 showed that Pau D’arco extract was able to significantly help rats with induced gastric ulcers by stimulating and increasing the healing process in their bodies. [9]

Another fascinating benefit of Pau D’arco is the fact that it serves as a natural pain reliever. In a 2001 study published in BMC Pharmacology, water extracts of Pau D’arco on mice were able to diminish the preliminary sensory process that sends the signals that lead to pain. In other words, it was shown that Pau D’arco acted as a pain-reducer! And in the same study it was shown that it could also help to reduce swelling. [10]  

Honorable Mentions

There are even more reported benefits towards taking Pau D’arco. Most of the time these are purely from consuming it in tea form, which is the easiest way to reap the benefits. And keep in mind that further research is warranted to establish any of these claims as valid. With that out of the way, here are the additional side effects of partaking in Pau D’arco consumption: [11]

  • Healthy skin
  • Natural detoxification
  • Bowel regularity
  • Immune support
  • Liver support
  • Allergy relief


Generally speaking, Pau D’arco is pretty safe. However, there are just a few exceptions.

If you are taking any medications that slow blood clotting- aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin)-, be aware that including Pau D’arco into the mix can interact with their effectiveness, as Pau D’arco may also slow clotting. [12] It may also increase the chances of bleeding during or after surgery (it is advise to discontinue use about two weeks before surgery). And large doses have been linked to internal bleeding as well, so exercise caution!

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should talk with their doctor before taking Pau D’arco.

Taking any aforementioned large doses may cause some stomach upset or loose stools, so once again stick to a few cups and not drink it by the gallons! [12]


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