Pau d'arco (pronounced pow-de-ah-co) is a large canopy tree native to the tropical regions of Central and South America. Its inner bark has a long history of being used for medicinal purposes by indigenous populations as it is naturally anticandidal, antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial and anticancer. Today it is used regularly for cancer treatments in Argentina, Brazil and South American countries.
As with many alternative and complementary cancer treatments, pau d'arco is controversial. While initial scientific research indicates pau d'arco may prevent cancer cells from increasing and slow tumor expansion by stopping tumors from growing blood vessels, no study has researched the effects of the entire herb on humans. The National Cancer Institute claims the high doses of pau d'arco necessary to combat cancer include side effects that are too dangerous. Yet, the study they reference isolated and focused on one single patentable compound, lapachol, rather than the 20+ active chemicals in the whole plant extract, some of which are believed to neutralize lapachol's negative side effects. It's important to read about the pros and cons of this herb and make your own decision about adding it to your wellness protocol.
If you decide to try pau d'arco, only purchase it from reputable vendors with clear ingredients labels. Only the inner lining of bark from the Tabebuia Impetiginosa or Tabebuia Avellandae species should be used, and it should be aged after harvesting to maximize effectiveness. (Be wary of suppliers who use both the inner and outer bark, which diminishes the quality and potency of the herb.) When preparing the bark for consumption, it must be boiled for at least 8-10 minutes rather than steeped as a simple tea.
As with any dietary supplement, it is important to fully research and form your own opinion on whether pau d'arco is right for you in partnership with a qualified healthcare professional. Below are some resource links to help you get started.