Taheebo tea, also known as Pau D’Arco or Lapacho tea, is increasingly being used as a natural remedy for a wide variety of ailments, from yeast infections to arthritis to even certain types of cancer.
Although this tea has been used for centuries, many modern people wonder how it works and whether it is effective.
Is this pungent tea the right choice for your own wellness needs?
Pau D’arco tea originates in the rainforests of South America, where it was used as a form of traditional medicine among indigenous nations. It was particularly popular when taken orally for infections and when used as a poultice on sore or arthritic joints.
It began to gain popularity among settlers in the area and was mentioned in literature dating back to the 19th century. It is made from the bark and shredded wood of the evergreen pau d’arco tree.
There are over 100 species of pau d’arco tree in the region, with only a few offering medical benefits.
The Tabebuia avellanedae variety is believed to be the best medicinal choice.
Although some teas use the whole bark, the colorful flowers, or even the wood of the tree, Botanist Dr. Daniel B. Mowry has written that the inner bark contains the compounds that offer the most health effects.(1)
The extract of this inner bark, or phloem, is often called Lapachol. This is believed to be the active ingredient in taheebo tea.
Several studies were performed on this herbal remedy in the latter part of the twentieth century.
Dr. Walter Accorsi, a pharmaceutical botanist, was at the head of much of this research.
In the decades since, we have learned a great deal about how this plant works, how to prepare it, and what ailments it may potentially alleviate.
Taheebo tea, like most teas, does not contain any calories, carbohydrates, or fat.
It does, however, offer a rich source of nutrients.
It is rich in selenium, a trace element that is difficult to attain in the processed Western diet. It also contains several flavonoids that are believed to be the sources of its purported health effects.
This tea can be prepared by mixing three tablespoons of the shredded inner bark with one quart of cold water.
This mixture should then be brought to a boil and allowed to simmer for twenty minutes. Although this seems like a long time, it is essential in order for the healing compounds to be released from the hard inner bark.
After it has simmered, it should be strained through a sieve or a cloth and enjoyed.
Many people who drink this tea mix it with honey or fruit juices as it has a distinctive bitter flavor.
Due to chemical reactions,
the tea should not be stored, boiled, or steeped in aluminum or tin containers.
In addition, the bark used to make this tea can be boiled for five minutes, wrapped in a soft cloth, and applied to painful joints. This was a popular native remedy for arthritis and other joint pain.
Most experts recommend that this tea should not be used for longer than a week at a time due to its side effects.
It has not been tested for long term safety in clinical trials, although it has been used successfully for centuries by indigenous peoples throughout South America.
Most of the reported benefits focus on its effects on infections, arthritis, and cancers.
How does this tea measure up?
There are several reported benefits behind taheebo (Pau D’arco) tea in fighting a variety of disease-causing microbes.
Natives of South America used it for infections of all sorts.
Several new studies are substantiating this usage. Dr. C. Perez and Dr. C. Anesini both found that it has antimicrobial activity similar to that of standard antibiotic medications, even when used against commonly resistant bacteria such as salmonella and pseudomonas.(2)
According to another study published in the Journal of Colorectal Disease, the tea appears to stimulate the immune system to fight more efficiently against viruses.(3)
We currently do not have any medications that fight viruses and bacteria simultaneously, so this tea may be a valuable asset in the future in the battle against drug-resistant microbes.
Taheebo tea has been traditionally used for pain, particularly joint pain and arthritis.
Many people continue to use it in alternative health communities for this benefit. It is showing promise in studies examining its painkilling effects.
A recent study published by Kuwait University found that mice that were given the extract of this tea showed less reaction to the painful stimulus of several different kinds.(4)
Much of the pain and damage caused by arthritis is due to chronic inflammation of joints and the tissues that support them.
According to a study published in the Journal Frontiers of Nutrition, taheebo tea also acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory.(5)
This is likely responsible for its anti-arthritic action when applied topically to sore joints.
Even though there are many anti-inflammatories are available on the market, many people prefer a natural option or one with fewer side effects.
Although there is still more study to be done,
taheebo tea appears to reduce inflammation and the pain that it causes.
This tea is increasingly being used as a complementary therapy for different kinds of cancer.
A study published in Current Medicinal Chemistry by several biochemists noted that cancer cells exposed to the active compounds in taheebo were no longer capable of invasion or metastasis.(6)
This may be valuable in treating patients who have types of cancer known to metastasize quickly, making them difficult to fight.
According to a research team at Harvard Medical School, taking taheebo tea may make radiation and other cancer therapies more effective.(7)
The Science Behind the Supplement
There are several compounds in Pau D’arco that are known to cause beneficial health effects.
The Journal of Integrative Cancer Therapies notes that B-lapachone, a compound found in Red lapacho (the inner bark of the Pau d’arco tree) , is known to cause apoptosis (controlled cell death) of cancer cells.(8)
This is likely the mechanism by which it prevents metastasis and spread of cancers. It does not have this effect on healthy tissue, which makes it a promising therapy for cancer.
According to the British Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, extracts of the inner bark of the Pau D’Arco tree appear to stimulate activity in T-helper cells, which are one of the most important parts of our immune system’s response to microbes.(9)
This activity is likely the reason that this tea is reported to cure infections of a variety of kinds, from viruses to bacteria to candida.
taheebo tea is rich in selenium and other trace nutrients that are lacking in the Western diet.
Because these are needed for a variety of metabolic processes, taking in an ample supply of them will give our body greater energy and wellness.
Are There Any Side Effects?
This tea clearly has been found to have some promising benefits.
However, as with all forms of medicine, there are a few important interactions and side effects to be aware of as well.
Taheebo bark appears to have anticoagulation, or blood-thinning, effects.
While these are minimal in most people, they can be serious in people who are taking other blood-thinning medications such as heparin, enoxaparin, warfarin, or coumadin.
In addition, people should not drink this tea before having surgery or other procedures where bleeding is a concern.
In some cases, taheebo tea can cause an upset stomach. Many people find that this is not an issue if they drink it with a meal.
However, if the discomfort persists, the user should stop drinking it.
High or prolonged doses of taheebo tea may not be safe. Some people develop nausea and vomiting or excessive bruising and bleeding.
Stop drinking the tea until you can talk to your doctor if you suddenly develop any of these symptoms.
Last, pregnant and nursing women should not drink this tea. A group of Brazilian doctors have discovered it may have abortive effects which could endanger a pregnancy.(10)
Although these side effects may seem serious, they are truly a worst-case scenario.
This tea has been used safely for centuries, with most users reporting no side effects and a variety of benefits.
If you have any questions or concerns,
it is important to talk to your personal physician before starting any new supplement or over the counter medication.
Pros and Cons
Altogether, taheebo tea has several main benefits.
These include its long history as well as its medical benefits. In spite of the fact that there is still a great deal of study to be performed, it appears to act as a powerful anti-inflammatory, pain reliever, and even adjunctive treatment for several kinds of cancer.
It can help your body’s immune system to wage a more effective battle against both bacteria and viruses.
These are undeniably good reasons to consider this tea.
taheebo tea can have downsides as well.
It should not be taken with blood thinners or by people who have a bleeding disorder.
It also can be dangerous for unborn babies.
Last, it may can cause mild stomach upset in a small number of people.
Taheebo is one of the most studied medicinal teas in the Western world.
We know a great deal about its purported benefits and the mechanism behind these:
- Powerful anti-inflammatory
- Natural pain relief
- Potential cancer-fighting compounds
- Antimicrobial activity against a variety of difficult to treat microbes
Taheebo tea may become a standard medical treatment in the future, and it is currently widely available throughout the world.
Understanding the pros and cons of this powerful tea is key to deciding whether it is the right decision for your unique wellness needs.