Pau D Arco Tea: Facts, Benefits and Safety

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In the Philippines pau d’ arco is popularly recognized as a liniment for arthritis and for other pain relief. However, pau d’ arco has many dosage types. As a tea, it is usually commercialized with its other common name - taheebo.

Compared to coffee, drinking tea is more beneficial. But, while there are different types of tea available in the market or prepared at home, pau d’ arco tea is also recommendable.

Pau d’ arco has been generally known for pain treatment. It can be available in topical type (liniment), in tincture, in tablet or in capsule and in powder form. As a tea, pau d’ arco is noted for many benefits.

About pau d’arco

Pau d’ arco is also popularly known as taheebo. It is a tropical tree commonly found in Central and South America.  It can grow to 150 feet in height and can be recognized for its broad evergreen leaves and large flowers of purple or pink. There are about 100 specie of pau d’arco and some of them also produce yellow and white flowers. Some botanical names of pau d’ arco include Tabebuia impetiginosa, Tabebuia  avellanedae and Tabebuia heptaphylla.

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Pau d arco or taheebo is collected for its inner bark. And for many years, it was popularly taken as a tonic and as a tea by ancient Incas and native South Americans.

What’s in it?

Pau d' arco possess the antioxidant quercetin. It also contains naphthoquinones – lapachol and betalapachone. These naphthoquinones are chemical compounds that can kill fungi, viruses, microbes and parasites. More to this, lapachol and betalapachone has also anti-inflammatory properties.

In one study, lapachol has been found to be effective against animal tumor cell. However, approval of lapachol as an anticancer drug was terminated because of bleeding issues.

The benefits of taking pau d’ arco tea

Like most teas, pau d’arco tea can promote better sleep and relaxation. Its content quercetin and other antioxidants help in the relaxation of body and mind. Its anti-fungal property aids in the candidiasis treatment. As pau d’ arco contains naphthoquinones, drinking pau d ‘arco tea can relieve body pains such as arthritis, muscle and joint pains and even dysmenorrhea.

The quinones content in pau d’ arco improves blood sugar, therefore ideal for diabetic people. Finally, as pau d’ arco also posses an anti-thrombotic property, it can help prevent clogging of the arteries that usually causes hypertension, cardiac arrest and stroke.

Safety

The active constituents that give pau d’ arco its medicinal effects do not dissolve easily in water so unlike other teas, pau d’ arco tea is boiled not brewed. While a commercialized pau d’ arco tea (Aldrtz pau tea, Wisdom of the Ancients pau d’ arco tea, My-marvel taheebo etc.) has a monitored amount of constituent, home made or prepared pau d’ arco tea can be made stronger.  With this, undesirable side effects such as nausea or dizziness can be experienced. This can be remedied by decreasing the strenght or reducing the intake of the tea.

Pau d’ arco tea is recommended twice a day, maximum three cups a day.

Pau d’ arco tea may not require a prescription but advice from a physician is necessary especially if the individual is taking an anticoagulant and anti-platelet drug (e.g. aspirin, dipyridamole, clopidogrel warfarin etc.). Since pau d’ arco has a blood-thinning property, it can potentiate the effect of these medications. Reported adverse drug reactions from other anti-platelet, anti-thrombotic or anticoagulant drugs include bruises, nose bleed, skin pallor, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Finally, pau d’ arco tea is contraindicated with pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

© Phoenix Montoya @ January 20, 2012

References:

  1. http://www.mims.com/Philippines/drug/info/MY-MARVEL%20Taheebo%20Herbal/
  2. http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/HerbsVitaminsandMinerals/pau-d-arco
  3. http://www.aldrtz.com/products.php?productID=6
  4. Pharmacognosy 9th edition

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