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Pau d’Arco became famous as a cancer cure in Brazil in the 1960’s. There, doctors used it in hospitals until powerful leaders in conventional medicine found out through the media that the bark of this tree was having great success at curing cancer. It is still well known for its healing abilities throughout South America, but knowledge of this cancer remedy has been suppressed on other continents thanks to strong efforts by the pharmaceutical industry to cover it up. Patients who choose to use Pau d’Arco as a cancer cure need to make sure that the tea contains primarily the inner bark of the Tabebuia impetiginosa tree.
Pau d’Arco, (also known as Lapacho, Trumpet Bush, Ipé Roxo, and Taheebo), and its amazing healing powers are relatively unknown outside of South America. In 1967, the Brazilian media in Sao Paulo reported that Pau d’Arco was being successfully used to successfully cure cancer. When word got out, trees were ravaged by patients desperate for health. The inner bark of the trees was ripped away in large quantities and huge numbers of Pau d’Arco trees were left devastated .
Pau d’Arco is native to Peru, Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. The tree grows up to 125 feet tall and produces pink, purple, or white flowers. The Incas used Pau d’Arco to cure cancer as well as to treat fevers, dysentery, intestinal issues, and snakebites. It has demonstrated anti-microbial as well anti-tumor, purifying, and immune stimulating activity. Pau d’Arco can relieve the symptoms of diabetes as well as lower blood pressure. It has a strong anti-inflammatory effect on the digestive system .
After the media covered the use of Pau d’Arco at hospitals in Sao Paulo, the doctors who had been curing patients were faced with the possibility of losing their licenses. A large crowd of people gathered outside the hospital in Santa Andre to get Pau d’Arco. The crowd was so large that the hospital’s daily operations were seriously threatened. In Santa Andre and the hospitals and clinics of Sao Paulo, signs were posted saying that the distribution of Pau d’Arco had been suspended . These signs were posted in a fashion not unlike those posted in post offices and government buildings throughout the United States warning patients about the “dangers” of laetrile . But instead of passively accepting the suspension of Pau d’Arco, people raided areas like the Botanical Gardens in Campinas to strip the bark from the trees and make the tea themselves .
The journalists who initially reported on the use of Pau d’Arco to cure cancer had initially promised to reveal patient’s medical histories, doctor’s names, X-rays, and biopsy results along with doctor’s names. But after the media report, the subject had been closed and all use of Pau d’Arco stopped. The hospital staff had been forbidden to discuss it .
Reporters later learned that over 1,000 diabetics had been cured using Pau d’Arco. Research has since revealed that a particular species, the Tabebuia heptaphylla is particularly effective at inhibiting the absorption of glucose in the intestines .
During the time period while the hospital urged the staff not to discuss the use of Pau d’Arco, patients and doctors continued to talk anyway. There were stories of cancer remissions, cardiovascular, and diabetic cures. But soon, the Sao Paulo Hospital of Clinics released a press announcement claiming that Pau d’ Arco was not a cancer cure and that in fact, cancer patients received no benefit from taking Pau d’ Arco. People became confused by the contradictory reports in the media. The hospitals continued to be prohibited from prescribing the Pau d’Arco bark. Though the scientific community was interested in studying Pau d’Arco, doctors didn’t want to be involved for fear of being labeled “quacks” .
In Argentina, Pau d’Arco was also discovered by the masses in 1967. A botanist and professor of botany and plant geography at the Miguel Lillo Institute and Herbarium in San Miguel de Tucuman named Teodoro Meyer was studying Pau d’ Arco at the same time as Victor Accorsi, professor emeritus at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. Teodor Meyer was able to speak the language of the local Indians and so he was able to learn about the medicinal plants they used to treat different diseases. Meyer’s work included providing Merck and Co., the pharmaceutical giant in New Jersey, with indigenous herbal medicines used to treat malaria and tropical fevers. Meyer formulated a special Pau d’Arco elixir from the inner bark of three different kinds of Pau d’Arco trees .
Though Meyer was doing nothing illegal by distributing his Pau d’Arco extract, the Medical College in Argentina banned it in 1969. Meyer was a well-known and well-respected scientist, so he received support from the media and his patients but the Medical College threatened to revoke a special fund that Meyer had been awarded as part of the National Prize in Biology four years prior. He’d planned to use the money to study Pau d’Arco. Teodor Meyer died shortly after that event .
In Canada, Pau d’Arco became known for a brief period of time as an alternative treatment for cancer, but the Health Protection Branch of Canada’s federal government classified it as a “new drug” which essentially banned its sale. Crowds demonstrated in front of the Parliament building and in Vancouver, but the government maintained the classification. Despite this, Pau d’Arco is still sold in health food stores across the country . Nurse Caisse had feared this kind of “shelving” when she refused to give away her formula for Essiac tea .
Though the United States National Cancer Institute (NCI), began systematically researching plant extracts all over the world (including Tabebuia impetiginosa) in the 1960’s, Pau d’Arco didn’t enter the public eye in the United States until 1981. In the 1960’s Pau d’Arco was studied with great detail by this organization , but public knowledge of the plant officially began with a newspaper article that noted the events that took place in Sao Paulo in 1967. Later that year, a botanist was quoted as saying that Pau d’Arco was “threatening to become a second laetrile . However, Pau d’Arco never received the same kind of media coverage in the United States as it did in other countries, so while there have been hundreds of instances in which people were healed by the tea in the U.S., the lack of publicity meant that it was never necessary to demonize it with the same rigors used to demonize laetrile. However, at the time of this writing, WebMD makes the claim that pau d’arco is “possibly unsafe” when taken by mouth. These kinds of linguistic tricks (“possibly unsafe”) are commonly used to describe the economic effects of substances like Pau d’Arco on big pharmaceutical companies, not their effects on actual human beings .
Safety and Effectiveness
Pau d’Arco is used to treat a wide variety of health problems including:
- Stomach disorders
- Bladder disorders
- Bacterial infections
- Viral infections
- Fungal infections (e.g. Candida albicans)
- More .
Research conducted to find new anti-cancer drugs has shown that Pau d’Arco can alter the cellular protein profile, shape, and its invasiveness. Pau d’Arco’s ability to inhibit cancer metastasis has been demonstrated in scientific studies. It is considered to be one of the most promising novel anti-cancer drugs currently being studied .
The main bioactive components in Tabebuia impetiginosa are lapachol and beta-lapachone. Beta-lapachone appears to be the primary anti-cancer compound. Additionally, Pau d’Arco also kinds high levels of selenium, an anti-oxidant that also boosts immunity .
According to the research, Pau d’Arco appears to be quite safe, though it can interfere with the biological cycle of vitamin K in the body. And Pau d’Arco products that are currently on the market are generally low quality .
When consumed according to the recommended dosage, Pau d’Arco is very safe. When consumed in high doses, it can cause digestive upsets, dizziness, and bleeding because it is a vitamin K antagonist, similar to the drug warfarin .
How Pau d’Arco Is Administered
The Brazilian botanist Victor Accorsi, professor emeritus at the University of Sao Paulo, attended to lines of 2,000 people a day, handing out the Pau d’Arco bark from dawn until dusk for free. Accorsi believed that the bark could eliminate pain and cause an increase in the volume of red blood cells. He said that Pau d’Arco appeared to cure everything from diabetes and ulcers to cancer and rheumatism. For cancer, he suggested using an extract of Pau d’Arco bark with a teaspoonful of water every three hours .
Teodoro Meyer made an elixir from the barks of the following species of Pau d’Arco trees:
- Tecoma fabrisi
- Tabebuia avellanedae Lorentz = Tabebuia impetiginosa (T. impetiginosa is more widely available .
- Tabebuia ipé Mart. = Tabebuia heptaphylla
Meyer’s instructions for preparing the elixir:
- 6 grams of pau d’arco bark
- 4 cups of boiling water
The bark was to be boiled for about 5 minutes until the water was reduced to three cups. Then it should be cooled and filtered before drinking. Patients should drink it in the morning, at midday, and again before the evening meal. Drink it without sugar. It can be prepared in the morning for drinking throughout the day. Drink it without interruption, but not too quickly .
Kenneth Jones, author of Pau d’Arco, Immune Power from the Rain Forest, offers the following recipe for the tea:
Boil water in a Pyrex or glass bowl. Let it cool until it is hot, but not boiling. Add the bark and then allow it to simmer for 20 minutes. Use 2 tablespoons of Pau d’Arco bark per 3 cups of water. Drink 3 to 6 teacups of the tea daily. Drink larger amounts for more serious diseases .
A fluid extract of Pau d’Arco is also available. Patients are advised to take the extract (about ½ teaspoon per half glass of water) hourly (or every 2 to 3 hours for less serious diseases) along with the tea .
Be aware that many companies use the whole bark of the Pau d’Arco tree even though only the inner bark has medicinal properties. Using the whole bark dilutes the medicinal value of the material .
Possible Negative Effects
Pau d’Arco can cause loose stools, but it can also cure diarrhea, depending on the patient’s symptoms .
 Jones, K. (1995). Pau d’Arco: Immune Power from the Rain Forest. Healing Arts Press: Rochester, Vermont.
 Cloverleaf Farm (2018). Pau d’Arco. Retrieved May 2, 2018 from http://www.cloverleaffarmherbs.com/pau-darco/
 Jônio de Freitas Mota & Motta, M. (1967). A Conspiraçao do Silêncio (Sao Paulo).
 Griffin, G. E. (1974). World Without Cancer; The Story of Vitamin B17, 3rd Ed. American Media.
 Grüne, U. (1976). Sobre o Princípio Antidiabético da Pedrahume-caá, Myrcia multiflora (Lam.) D. C.
 Olsen, C. (1996). Essiac: A Native Herbal Remedy. Kali Press: Pagosa Springs, CO.
 WebMD (2005-2018). Pau d’Arco. Retrieved May 2, 2018 from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-647/pau-darco
 Dr. Axe (2018). Fight Cancer and Inflammation with Pau d’Arco Tea. Retrieved May 2, 2018 from https://draxe.com/pau-darco-tea/
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 Maeda, M. Murakami, M., Takegami, T., Ota, T. (2008). Promotion or suppression of experimental metastasis of B16 melanoma cells after oral administration of lapachol. Retrieved May 2, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18294668
 Pardee, A. B., Li, Y. Z., Li, C. J. (2002). Cancer therapy with beta-lapachone. Retrieved May 2, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12188909
 Gómez Castellanos, J. R., Prieto, J. M., Heinrich, M. (2009). Red Lapacho (Tabebuia impetiginosa)—a global ethnopharmacological commodity? Retrieved May 2, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18992801