Last updated April 11, 2019 by Lisa Richards, CNC   Reviewed by Katie Stone, ND.

The Health Benefits Of Pau D’Arco

Pau d'Arco - antifungal, reduces inflammation, treats topical yeast infections

Pau D’Arco, also known as Lapacho, has received worldwide attention in recent years. Numerous studies on its amazing health benefits have shown that Pau D’Arco may be one answer to antibiotic resistance, as well as a treatment for fungal infections like Candida.

Native to the Amazon rainforest, the bark and wood of the Pau D’Arco tree have been used in traditional medicine by indigenous people for centuries. Several rainforest tribes have been known to use it for treating a variety of ailments including malaria, anemia, colitis, respiratory illness, coughs and colds, yeast and fungal infections, fever, arthritis, circulatory problems, skin conditions, and even snakebite.

Although Pau D’Arco has been exported from South America for more than 100 years, its remarkable properties were often degraded by poor handling and storage. It’s only in recent years that scientists have been able to properly investigate its effect on various diseases, from arthritis to cancer.

How Does Pau D’Arco Work?

Pau d’Arco’s many medicinal properties include antifungal, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and anti-parasitic.

Antifungal

Scientists have found that Pau d’Arco has a unique, two-pronged effect on fungal infections. Pau d’Arco contains several classes of active chemicals known as naphthoquinones, the most powerful of which are lapachol and beta-lapachone. Lab tests have shown that these amazing naphthoquinones are able to kill a variety of bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites.

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Lapachol is believed to work by interfering with the electron transport system of the fungal infection, as well as inhibiting the respiratory mechanism of the cell itself. In this way, it is able to kill off a variety of bacteria, fungi, and yeast including Candida albicans. In fact, the US. Department of Agriculture has reported Lapachol to be both toxic and resistant to a long list of harmful organisms.

A study on lapachol published in 2007 reported that this special compound had a significant effect against Candida albicans and Candida tropicalis – similar to that of pharmaceutical drugs. Researchers believed that this antifungal activity was due to Pau d’Arco’s effect on the cellular membrane of the fungi.

Antimicrobial

Pau d’Arco’s beta-lapachone compounds are similar to lapachol in that they are highly toxic to harmful pathogens.

Traditionally, pau d’Arco has been used to treat infections of the prostate gland (aka prostatitis), which suggests it harbors powerful antibacterial properties. Although there is a lack of scientific research to verify this, some test tube studies have shown Pau d’Arco to be effective in killing bacteria such as E. coli.

Anti-Inflammatory

Pau d’Arco’s therapeutic compounds have also been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Researchers have found that pau d’Arco increases the expression of certain proteins that protect the body against inflammation. This particular finding suggests that pau d’Arco could be used to reduce inflammation in the gut, while other researchers suggest it may even be beneficial in treating inflammatory diseases such as osteoarthritis.

Detoxifying

As well as killing off the bacteria and fungi that lead to infection, Pau d’Arco helps to clear toxic waste from the body. It has a loosening effect on the bowels, speeding bowel transition time, and improving the elimination of fecal matter. This also helps to expose the Candida yeast to the antifungal compounds (and your own immune system) that can inhibit its growth.

Other Benefits of Pau D’Arco

As well as fighting Candida overgrowth, research suggests that Pau d’Arco can:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Fight viruses
  • Treat topical skin infections
  • Fight cancer
  • Reduce the risk of ulcers
  • Relieve pain

How Do You Take Pau D’Arco?

The easiest way to take Pau d’Arco is in a tea. Teabags and loose-leaf Pau d’Arco are widely available from health stores and online. However, it is possible that the active compounds in pau d’Arco are less bioavailable when made into a tea, as they do not disperse well in water.

It is also available in capsule form for convenience, and as a tincture.

  • Tea: To make a Pau d’Arco tea, add 2 teaspoons of bark to 4 cups of boiling water. Allow to steep for 20 minutes, then leave it to cool for up to an hour. When cool, strain the tea and drink the remainder in small amounts throughout the day. You can also use the liquid to cleanse the skin or as a vaginal flush for Candida yeast infections.
  • Capsules: Dosage is usually 2-3x per day, but refer to the manufacturer’s dosage instructions.
  • Spray: Pau D’Arco is also available as an oral spray that can be administered through the mouth. It is believed to have excellent uptake.

Who Should Not Take Pau D’Arco?

Pregnant or breastfeeding women are not advised to take Pau d’Arco.

Those who suffer from blood thinning disorders or preparing for surgical procedures are also not recommended to commence a Pau d’Arco supplementation program, as it is known to thin the blood. Those with chronic illnesses should also consult with their health professional before taking Pau d’Arco, as there is always the potential for it to interact with certain medications.

Pau d’Arco Side Effects

Although uncommon, a number of minor side effects have been reported when using pau d’Arco in large quantities. The risk of side effects appears to be greater when dosages of pau d’Arco contain more than 1.5g lapachol per day. It is therefore advised to use a product that states the exact amount of lapachol.

Dosage should be kept to that specified by the manufacturer, as excess amounts have been known to weaken the immune system.

Using Pau D’Arco For Candida

Pau D’Arco might be one of the antifungal supplements that you use during your recovery from Candida overgrowth. It has antifungal, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties, and has been used for centuries in traditional medicine.

For lots more information on how to choose the right antifungal, take a look at the Ultimate Candida Diet treatment plan, which I created with Dr. Eric Wood.

Filed under: Antifungals
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