The different therapeutic benefits that lapacho can provide

Lapacho or Tabebuia Impetiginosa or Pau d’Arco or Avellanedae, or “sacred tree” for the Incas, is a very well-known plant in the traditional pharmacopoeia of South America. It is a bright pink flowering tree that belongs to the bignognacea family, just like the catalpa. It can be found on a large part of the South American continent, hence its nickname of sacred tree. This tree is also one of the emblems of Paraguay.

When can it be used?

The multiple uses of Pau d’Arco by indigenous South American populations for centuries have drawn the attention of scientists. The latter were able to characterize 2 molecules which are at the origin of the benefits of this plant: lapachol and beta-lapachone. Like vitamin K, these are naphthoquinones, derivatives of phenols that have undergone oxidation. These are natural compounds to which oxidation gives cytotoxic properties. In other words, dangerous for the cells. This may, among other things, explain their interest against cancer cells. The benefits of Tabebuia Impetiginosa are indeed many and varied.

Fight against cancer

Beta-lapachone has antitumor abilities. It can be found in a biochemical cycle with NQO1, another naphthoquinone. In cancers, this leads to the action of beta-lapachone. It causes chain reactions leading to the suicide of cancerous cells. In fact, researchers speculate that beta-lapachone plays a role in several different pathways leading to tumor cell death. Therefore, this makes it a promising molecule in oncology research.

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Activation of cell suicide

Several studies have been conducted (mostly in vitro) on the action of beta-lapachone from Tabebuia Impetiginosa on cancers:

  • Liver cancer: beta-lapachone causes cell suicide via the caspase pathway. When a signal is sent to them, these enzymes cause their death. This is precisely the case with neta-lapachone. It also decreases the action of antiapoptotic proteins, which reinforces its cell death promoting action.
  • Colon Cancer: it was also possible to observe on human lines submitted in vitro, the activation of the caspase pathway, with a reduction in DNA repair. This then leads to cell death.
  • gastric cancer: Researchers were able to make the same observation on cell suicide caused by this naphthoquinone on human lines of gastric carcinoma.

In what form can the lapacho be used?

Phytotherapy uses the lapacho in the form of liquid extract, capsules, or infusion.

Contraindications and side effects

The administration of Pau d’Arco to pregnant rats caused the death of their fetuses. This plant is therefore not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women. In the absence of official data, this same precaution also applies to children under 16 years of age. In addition, it should not be taken if you are on coagulant treatment. It is best to talk to a doctor or pharmacist, as with any dietary supplement for therapeutic purposes.


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