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Compilation by Armando Gonzalez Stuart, PhD

Scientific Name:

Tabebuia impetiginosa

Botanical Family:


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).

Before you decide to take any medicinal herb or herbal supplement, be sure to consult with your health care professional first. Avoid self-diagnosis and self-medication: Always be on the safe side!



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    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.
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