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What is lapacho?

Lapacho is obtained from the bark of the rainforest tree Lapacho (Tabebuia avellanedeae, synonym: Tabebuia impetiginosa) , whereby only the outer red bark is used in the production process. The bark contains numerous tannins, acids and vitamins. The tree does not have to be felled for this purpose, as the bark grows back again within a year.

The tree is totally unrelated to the normal tea plant (Camellia sinensis).

The tree is also known as Pau D'arco, ipe roxo, tahuari, taheebo, tabebuia ipe and tajy.

Popular reports indicate that the bark of this tree and of several other related members of Tabebuia and Tecoma curialis are used in Central and South American folk medicine to make a tea that is used to treat a wide range of maladies, from arthritis to ulcers to diabetes to cancer. As a result, many herb companies and health food stores are vigorously promoting lapacho teas as a virtual cure-all. None of these, however, have been scientifically proven.

Medical researchers have indeed found that some compounds in the wood of this tree, mainly ß-lapachone and lapachol, have anticancer properties. However, these compounds are also highly toxic, and thus far have not proven their worth as a valid cancer treatment. There is no scientific evidence for anti-carcinogenic properties of the tea itself.



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