Lapacho, also known as Pau D'Arco and with local names such as Taheebo and Ipe Roxo, is a plant that has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. It is the bark, the part used historically by native South Americans, which gives beneficial substances and precious minerals. Lapacho infusion or decoction is an antioxidant, tonic drink to strengthen the body's natural defenses.
Natural Lapacho bark: properties and benefits
In its version without added flavorings, the internal bark of Lapacho makes compounds called naphthoquinones bio-available. These are very reactive molecules, which can form bonds with different chemical groups and often make these substances with useful capacities against bacteria, fungi, and as natural anti-inflammatories. In particular, Lapacho bark contains the elements lapachol and beta-lapachone, believed to be responsible for its benefits. The antibacterial and antifungal properties, already noted by historical herbal medicine, are due to a mechanism that is not yet certain; however, it is thought that the substances released in the infusion or decoction of the bark can block the processes that allow bacteria and fungi to produce oxygen and energy.
Its elements could reduce the growth of some bacteria in the digestive system (beta-lapachone is studied for its action against a staphylococcus), promoting well-being against gastrointestinal ulcers and irritation.
Thanks to these capabilities, natural lapacho is recommended in phytotherapy , to prevent the attack of bacteria and fungi in the body. In particular, the herbal tea or decoction are considered effective for the well-being of the urinary tract. The bark infusion can be useful in case of candida and cystitis, and to soothe the symptoms of vaginal irritation through purification. In the prevention of inflammation it is believed that the natural lapacho bark, in some cases, can prevent this natural response of the body from being triggered. Chronic inflammation is linked to the appearance of various pathologies, and for this reason the substances that can attenuate it are considered beneficial.
Taking Lapacho appears to inhibit the body's release of substances that trigger an inflammatory response (inflammatory mediators such as prostaglandin and nitric oxide). It can calm the symptoms of inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis, where joint swelling and stiffness occur. It also has a laxative effect, and regular use of the infusion maintains correct bowel movements. This purifying capacity of Lapacho could inhibit the absorption of dietary fats - even if side effects of diarrhea are possible, so it is necessary to maintain the recommended doses. The bark also contains several minerals such as iron, boron, copper and silver. Substances useful for well-being, particularly in the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. Due to these characteristics, the Lapacho infusion was also used by native South Americans as a tonic and immunostimulant, able to provide strength and energy to the body.
Origins and History of cultivation
The Lapacho tree, native to Central and South America, was known for its medicinal properties to the natives of Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia and other countries.
The populations used the lapacho bark as a healing plant, and in fact the infusion is also called the tea of the Incas . Some scholars think that its use may even predate the Incas, and go back thousands of years. The infusion was done using the inner bark of the lapacho tree - the red or purple varieties. The natives used lapacho decoctions or infusions to treat stomach and skin ailments, to soothe inflammatory conditions, gastrointestinal problems, and urinary tract infections. The bark was used in particular by the Guarani and Tupi-Nambo tribes (near them was the Tajy tree); in the high Andes, by the Callawaya, Quechua, Aymara and other tribes (who called it Taheebo tree). The use of Lapacho was considered an immunostimulating and tonic remedy. It was called Tajy, because it means to have strength and vigor; it was also called the divine tree. Lapacho wood is dense, solid, resistant to humidity; it was used, in fact, to create hunting bows. It is considered suitable for making beams or wooden structures outdoors.
Plant and flowers
Lapacho has the botanical name of Handroanthus impetiginosus and is a native treeof South America. It is part of the Bignoniacee family. It also has other names in the various territories, both botanical and popular. On a scientific level, among the many synonyms are Tabebuia avellanedae, Tecoma avellanedae and Tabebuia impetiginosa - species native to tropical rainforests. In the spoken language, it is also called ipê rosa or ipê roxo, lapacho rosa, lapacho negro, pau d'arc, and so on. As a plant, Lapacho is widespread throughout Central and South America, and is the national tree of Paraguay. As a tree it is massive, and can grow up to about 30 meters in height, although it grows slowly. The flowering shows pink-purple flowers, in the varieties of ipe useful for infusions, which bloom before the appearance of the new leaves. The bark of the tree is hard, difficult to peel, and exhibits a gray-brown color. The wood is yellowish, very hard, resistant to bad weather and the scorching sun.
Nutritional values of Lapacho
Lapacho bark contains substances and minerals useful for maintaining the well-being and vitality of our body. Contains iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, iodine, boron and barium. The best known active ingredients are naphthoquinones, mainly lapachol (derivative of vitamin K) and beta-lapachone. Anthraquinones are other important compounds found in the plant. Many of the healing qualities of lapacho may be due to a probable synergy between the two compounds. In Lapacho we also find antioxidant flavonoids such as quercetin and xyloidone. How to use the bark in the herbal tea or Lapacho decoction The ideal infusion is obtained by immersing in a cup (250 ml), about 3-5 grams of the natural Lapacho blend, with water at 100 ° C. Leave to infuse for 10 to 12 minutes, before drinking the anti-inflammatory herbal tea. For a good decoction of Lapacho bark: take a teaspoon of bark, add it to a cup of water, bring to a boil and let it go for about ten minutes. Then, remove from the heat and leave to infuse for another ten minutes. Filter and drink.
Lapacho: side effects and contraindications
In the consumption of Lapacho bark, some undesirable effects may occur, especially if the recommended doses are not respected. These effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and risks of anemia. Since the properties of Lapacho can affect blood thinning, it should be avoided by those taking anticoagulant drugs or aspirin. This infusion is not recommended for children, pregnant and lactating women.