What is it?
Though possibly unsafe, especially at higher doses, pau d'arco is used to treat a wide range of infections. These include viral respiratory infections such as the common cold, flu, and H1N1 (swine) flu; sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea and syphilis; infections of the prostate and bladder; ringworm and other parasitic infections; yeast infections; and infectious diarrhea.
Pau d'arco is also used for cancer. Interest in this use was intensified by extensive research in the 1960s that focused on the possible anti-cancer activity of lapachol, one of the chemicals in pau d'arco. However, research studies were stopped because, at the amounts needed to be effective against cancer, pau d'arco might well be poisonous. Among other things, it can cause severe internal bleeding.
Other uses for pau d'arco include diabetes, ulcers, stomach inflammation (gastritis), liver ailments, asthma, bronchitis, joint pain, hernias, boils, and wounds. Because some people see pau d'arco as a "tonic and blood builder," it is also used to treat anemia.
Pau d'arco is applied directly to the skin for Candida yeast infections.
Commercial products containing pau d'arco are available in capsule, tablet, extract, powder, and tea forms. But sometimes it's hard to know what is in pau d'arco products. Some studies have shown that some pau d'arco products sold in Canada and Brazil do not contain the active ingredients in the correct amounts.
How effective is it?
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
The effectiveness ratings for PAU D'ARCO are as follows:
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...
- Yeast infections.
- Common cold.
- Bladder and prostate infections.
- Intestinal worms.
- Stomach problems.
- Liver problems.
- Arthritis-like pain.
- Sexually transmitted diseases (gonorrhea, syphilis).
- Other conditions.
How does it work?
Are there safety concerns?
Special precautions & warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: During pregnancy, pau d'arco is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in typical amounts, and LIKELY UNSAFE in larger doses. Not enough is known about the safety of applying it to the skin. Stay on the safe side and avoid use if you are pregnant.
There is not enough reliable information available about the safety of taking pau d'arco if you are breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Bleeding disorders: Pau d'arco can delay clotting and might interfere with treatment in people with bleeding disorders.
Surgery: Pau d'arco might slow blood clotting and could increase the chance of bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using it at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Are there interactions with medications?
- Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)
- Pau d'arco might slow blood clotting. Taking pau d'arco along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.
Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?
- Herbs and supplements that might slow blood clotting
- Pau d'arco might slow blood clotting. Taking pau d'arco along with other herbs or supplements that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding in some people. These herbs include alfalfa, angelica, clove, danshen, horse chestnut, red clover, turmeric, and others.
Are there interactions with foods?
- There are no known interactions with foods.
What dose is used?
To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.
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