Whether you heard about it from a friend or found it at the supermarket, Pau D’arco tea has captured your curiosity. Pau D’arco (pronounced pow-darko) is an herbal supplement tea made from tree bark. In this article, you’ll learn all about its health benefits, flavor and how to make the most of its health benefits while using it safely and responsibly.
The Origins of Pau D’arco
The tree responsible for the growth of Pau D’arco shares the name of the popular tea it produces. Pau D’arco trees are absolutely breathtaking! The leaves of a Pau D’arco tree are a lovely pinkish-violet hue, and it blooms all year round. These trees can also grow to remarkable heights, averaging about 125-150 ft. Pau D’arco thrives primarily in Central and South America, where the tea was first brewed.
FUN FACT: Pau D’arco translates to “bow tree” in Portuguese, because it was often used by natives of Brazil to craft hunting bows.
Although the tree’s leaves are soft and dainty, its bark is the complete opposite. Pau D’arco tree bark is so hard that it resists external decay and damage. In fact, fungus has not been able to grow on Pau D’arco trees at all. The inner bark is highly resilient as well, and that’s what Pau D’arco tea is made from.
Once enough layers of bark have been removed from the tree, it’s time to strip the inner bark for tea. The tree bark is typically carved into small strips, which are then packaged into tea bags and made available for sale.
Pau D’arco is said to taste earthy, somewhat bitter, and woody. Although it doesn’t exactly sound delicious, there are many benefits to drinking it aside from the taste. Pau D’arco is mostly consumed for medicinal and health purposes, rather than flavor. If you want to improve the taste, you can add extras such as cloves, cinnamon, sugar, and even apple cider to bring out the best of its natural taste.
When drinking Pau D’arco tea, you might notice a thin layer of residue at the bottom of your cup. This is completely normal, and it’s actually recommended that you drink the residue to fully embrace its health benefits.
Pau D’arco tea is used to treat a wide variety of health concerns, although its medicinal qualities have been disputed by some health professionals. A significant concern regarding Pau D’arco is that in order to truly reap the benefits of consumption, you’d have to drink large quantities of tea.
This can be dangerous because Pau D’arco contains several unique chemicals that can become hazardous when ingested in large amounts. For that reason, it’s recommended that you stick to small cups and always consult a medical professional before use.
Pau D’arco is used to treat many medical conditions, including but not limited to the following:
- Bacterial infections
- Yeast infections
- Stomach Ulcers
There are two active chemicals in Pau D’arco: lapachol and beta-lapachone. These two chemicals both possess anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial qualities, which explains why Pau D’arco can be so helpful for treating certain conditions, particularly those of a bacterial origin.
Although studies have been performed via test tubes, no such studies have been officially confirmed for human testing – meaning that drinking too much Pau D’arco can potentially be a risk to your health.
Pau D’arco is available in multiple forms. You can purchase Pau D’arco online as a looseleaf or bagged tea as well as tinctures and tablets. Tinctures contain alcohol, which amplifies its natural effects, so be careful if that’s your preferred method of use.
NOTE: Pregnant women are urged not to use Pau D’arco, as the chemicals it contains can be harmful to development. Additionally, it’s considered generally unsafe for children.
According to Healthline, you should drink no more than 3 cups of Pau D’arco tea per day – and if you’re taking tablets, limit yourself to 2-4 500mg tablets once or twice a day.
If you’ve ingested too much Pau D’arco and are uncertain as to whether or not you’re sick, a good rule of thumb is to always err on the side of caution. The current studies available on Pau D’arco are highly limited, making it even more of a potential risk if you take too much.
If you start experiencing the following symptoms of a Pau D’arco “overdose”, you should seek medical help immediately.
- Blood thinning
- Reproductive damage
Currently, it’s unknown whether Pau D’arco has any negative interactions with prescription medication. If you’re taking medication for any other condition, make sure you consult your prescribing doctor before trying Pau D’arco.
The only medicine which it’s currently unfit to combine with is actually over-the-counter aspirin. Both of these chemicals have blood thinning properties, so try not to take them together.
Unfortunately, due to the recent surge in popularity, Pau D’arco has been in high demand, making it difficult to keep up with its growth. Because of this, Pau D’arco has been declared an endangered and protected species by Brazil. Its growth, harvest and refinement is closely monitored to prevent extinction.
One unfortunate fact is that in order to properly harvest the inner bark, the entire tree must die, leaving little to no room to regrow in enough time to meet demand. Currently, the Brazilian government is doing everything it can to protect the plant and make its growth process more sustainable.
Although there are some risks to the consumption of Pau D’arco tea, it also has many benefits. Always consult a doctor before adding new chemicals to your health regimen, especially Pau D’arco due to its limited test results. Make sure you always stay within the recommended dosage and consume responsibly. That being said, if you’re looking for a new opportunity to feel good and treat your body right, Pau D’arco is certainly worth looking into.