Pau d’arco is a large canopy tree native to the Amazon rain-forest and other parts of South and Latin America. Growing up to 100 feet tall and 10 feet wide, its high-quality wood is some of the heaviest and most durable wood in the tropics. Pau d’Arco gathered interest from researchers by the fact it does not have fungus growth, even in the lush tropical conditions of the Amazon jungle. This makes it an ideal wood for use in the construction of anything from houses to farm tools.
Translated from the Portuguese language, Pau meaning wood and arco meaning bow, the name describes one of the common traditional uses for the wood as a hunting bow. Common tribal names for this tree mean “bow stick” and “bow stem.” The Guarani and Tupi tribes call the tree tajy, which means “to have strength and vigor.”
Pau d’arco has a long history of use by the indigenous peoples of the rain-forest, possibly even predating the Incas. Throughout South America, tribes living thousands of miles apart have employed it for the same medicinal purpose. Traditionally it has been used to promote healthy respiratory and digestive systems. It has also been used topically to assist with balancing yeast levels.
Pau d’arco contains compounds such as quinoids, benzenoids, flavonoids and beta-lapachone. The primary focus of studies on Pau d’Arco has been on the chemical lapachol. No one knows for sure if it’s this specific chemical or a combination of compound found in Pau d’Arco that make it such an amazing healing herb.