Herbs have been the medicine of man for the countless centuries. First from the Middle East and China, then from Europe and then to America. Finally it seems that the remote areas of South America are the last region where any new and wonderful herbs could be found.

In the southern part of South America there is an herb that most natives feel is the answer to many health problems. This herb (or tree) grows in several countries. In Spanish-speaking countries it is called “lapacho,” In other countries it is known as “taheebo,” and yet in other areas it is known as “ipe roxo.” However, it is all pretty much the same plant.

Pau d’arco starts out as a vine, but then grows into a tree. In some parts of the jungle it reaches great heights. For the most part it is wild crafted (grows wild and is harvested by gatherers), but some of these trees are grown on farms or orchards.
With some trees, like the oak, they use the outer bark. Yet with other trees, like the slippery elm, they use the inner bark, or the cambium layer. However, with the pau d’arco, the medicinal part they use is the inner lining, or the fiber that grows between the inner bark and the tree. This is called the phloem (pronounced floam). It is formed by the sap and is loaded with nutrients and minerals. If not harvested, the phloem will in time become a part of the heartwood of the tree.

For thousands of years the native Indians of Brazil, northern Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia have used pau d’arco for medicinal purposes. One of the legends of the present day Guarani Indians says that their family crossed the great ocean and settled in America. The family divided into two factions. One group followed a brother called Tupi. The other half of the family group followed another brother called Guarani. They feuded for about 600 years until a fair-skinned, white haired, bearded Pa’I Shume descended from the heavens. He taught of religion. He also taught them about agriculture and the healing qualities of leaves, bark, and roots. The Guarani’s live a very healthy life because of pau d’arco, yerbamate, stevia and other herbs.

In 1873 Dr. Joaqin Almmeida Pinto wrote about the use of pau d’aco for rheumatic disorders, venereal diseases, ulcers and how it could be used against herpes, eczema and other skin problems and stomach problems.

However, pau d’arco is possibly known in South America as a native cancer cure. As early 1884 E.Paterno isolated the active constituent, lapachol, and in 1896, S.E.Hooker established the chemical structure lapachol. A century more of research has added tabebuin, napthaquinones (N factor). Another class of compounds is anthraquinones or A factor. It also contains quercitin, xlodone, biflavonoids, carnosol, indoles, coenzyme Q, steroidal saponins, along with minerals like calcium, selenium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and vitamins C, A and some B complex and a lot of iron which makes it a blood builder increasing red corpuscles.

There have been many anecdotal testimonials of pau d’arco curing cancer. The most tells of a large tumor he had on his brain. Traditional treatment produced only minor success. Then he began to use lapacho (pau d’arco) tea. After several weeks a CAT scan showed that the tumor was totally gone. The doctors couldn’t believe they had classified his case a basically untreatable.

Most of the testimonies of pau d’arco have to do with tumors and cancer. However, one man read a testimonial on arthritis so he started drinking the tea twicw aday. He said he was skeptical but he had nothing to lose but a constant pain in the hip and a foot that hurt to walk on. He said, “Since drinking the tea regularly I can stay on my feet for two or three hours without pain.” He also said that his doctor said that the tissues in his hip were regenerating.

Pau d’arco is antifungal so it is used for candida albicans and herpes simplex. It has the ability to reduce tumors by dissolving them. It is natural anodyne (pain reliever) for cancer and arthritis. It helps low blood sugar and diabetes. All in all, pau d’arco is a great herb.

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