Compilation by Armando Gonzalez Stuart, PhD.
Other Common Name:
Pau d’ arco, tajibo, tajibo morado, taheebo, tajy pyta, pink trumpet tree, pink ipê, ipê roxo, pink lapacho.
Where is it found?
Various species of the genus Tabebuia are found throughout Latin America and the West indies (Quattrocchi, 2012; Mabberley, 2008; Roth and Lindorf, 2002; Schultes and Raffauf, 1990).
Parts of the plant used:
Principally, the bark from the tree, although the flowers and leaves are also used, depending on the ailment (Quattrocchi, 2012; Duke et al., 2009; Roth and Lindorf, 2002; Schultes and Raffauf, 1990).
How is it used?
The bark of the tree, boiled in water (decoction) is taken as a tea or applied externally as a wash. The leaves and flowers are taken as a tea. Capsules and teas made from the bark are sold in various health foods stores.
What is it used for?
The indigenous peoples of various countries in Spanish and Portuguese America use the bark, leaves, and flowers to treat various conditions, including the following: as an abortifacient, anti-anemic, antioxidant, antitumor, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, antifungal, to promote wound healing, against diverse parasites (including Leishmania, Schistosoma, Trypanosoma, and Toxocara), antipyretric (to lower fever), to treat stomach ulcers, and for diarrhea. A tea made from the leaves relieves flatulence, (Aires Ade et al., 2015; Mata-Santos et al., 2015; Quattrocchi, 2012; Berdonces, 2009; Taylor, 2005; Roth and Lindorf, 2002; Schultes and Raffauf, 1990).
One of the foremost active ingredients in certain species of Tabebuia, known as β-lapachone, is a natural napthoquinone derived from the bark, with anti-proliferative properties against various cancers, including pancreatic, pulmonary, breast, and prostate cancers. β lapachone is a topoisomerase inhibitor and could be used as a potential anticancer drug for its prevention, as well as improve the clinical outcome of patients affected with this disease (Bang et al. 2015; Chakrabarti et al., 2015; Jeon et al., 2015; Saroya, 2006).
Safety / Precautions
- The safety of using lapacho during pregnancy and lactation has not been established (Gardner and McGuffin, 2013).
- Avoid during pregnancy and lactation (Duke et al., 2009; Taylor, 2005).
- Handling the powdered wood may cause respiratory and skin allergies in susceptible people (Duke et al., 2009).
- The plant may have anticoagulant action; observe caution of taking blood thinners (Berdonces, 2009; Duke et al., 2009).
Aires Ade L, Ximenes EC, Barbosa VX, Góes AJ, Souza VM, Albuquerque MC.
β-Lapachone: a naphthoquinone with promising antischistosomal properties in mice. Phytomedicine. 2014; 21(3):261-7.
Bang W, Jeon YJ, Cho JH, Lee RH, Park SM, Shin JC, Choi NJ, Choi YH, Cho JJ, Seo JM, Lee SY, Shim JH, Chae JI. β-lapachone suppresses the proliferation of human malignant melanoma cells by targeting specificity protein 1. Oncol Rep. 2016; 35(2):1109-16.
Berdonces JL. Gran Diccionario de las Plantas Medicinales.
Barcelona, Spain: Editorial Oceano; 2009; pp. 892-894.
Chakrabarti G, Silvers MA, Ilcheva M, Liu Y, Moore ZR, Luo X, Gao J, Anderson G, Liu L, Sarode V, Gerber DE, Burma S, DeBerardinis RJ, Gerson SL, Boothman DA. Tumor-selective use of DNA base excision repair inhibition in pancreatic cancer using the NQO1 bioactivatable drug, β-lapachone.Sci Rep. 2015 Nov 25; 5:17066.
Duke J, Bogenschutz-Godwin M, Ottensen R. Duke’s Handbook of Medicinal Plants of Latin America. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2009; pp. 679-683.
Jeon YJ, Bang W, Shin JC, Park SM, Cho JJ, Choi YH, Seo KS, Choi NJ, Shim JH, Chae JI. Downregulation of Sp1 is involved in β-lapachone-induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in oral squamous cell carcinoma. Int J Oncol. 2015;46(6):2606-12.
Gardner Z, McGuffin M (Editors). Botanical Safety Handbook 2nd ed.
Boca Raton, FL; CRC Press; 2013; pp. 847-852.
Lorenzi H, Matos F J. Plantas Medicinais No Brasil 2a ed.
Nova Odessa, Brasil: Instituto Plantarum; 2008; pp. 175-176.
Mabberley D. Mabberley’s Plant Book 3rd ed.
London: Cambridge University Press; 2008; p. 837.
Mata-Santos T, Pinto NF, Mata-Santos HA, De Moura KG, Carneiro PF, Carvalho T dos S, Del Rio KP, Pinto Mdo C, Martins LR, Fenalti JM, Da Silva PE, Scaini CJ. Anthelmintic activity of lapachol, β-lapachone and its derivatives against toxocara canis larvae.
Rev Inst Med Trop Sao Paulo. 2015 ;57(3):197-204.
Quattrocchi, U. World Dictionary of Medicinal and Poisonous Plants, Vol. 5.
Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2012; pp. 479-481.
Roth I, Lindorf I. South American Medicinal Plants.
Berlin: Springer-Verlag: 2002; pp. 122-124.
Saroya AS. Glossary of Phytochemicals.
New Delhi: Business Horizons; 2006; p. 161.
Schultes R, Raffauf R. The Healing Forest.
Portland OR: Dioscorides Press; 1990; p. .
Soukup J. Vocabulario de los Nombres Vulgares de la Flora Peruana.
Lima, Perú: Editorial Salesiana; n.d.; p. 392.
Taylor L. The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs.
New York: Square One Publishers; 2005; pp. 383-389.