The inner bark of the lapacho tree plays a central role in the herbal medicine of several South American indigenous peoples. They use it to treat cancer as well as a great variety of infectious diseases.
There has been very little scientific investigation of lapacho as a whole herb. However, an enormous amount of scientific interest has focused on three constituents of lapacho: lapachol, lapachone, and isolapachone. The relevance of these findings to the use of lapacho itself remains unclear.
What Is Lapacho Used for Today?
Similarly, these studies have been twisted to support claims that lapacho is useful for many infections, including colds and flus and bladder infections . However, there are at least two problems with this reasoning. First, lapacho has been tested primarily against fungi and parasites; there is little evidence that it can kill viruses (the cause of colds) or bacteria (the cause of most bladder infections). Furthermore, even if lapacho can kill these microorganisms on direct contact, this does not imply that it would be effective if taken by mouth. Consider this analogy: wine easily kills the cold virus on direct contact, but if you drink wine when you have a cold you’re not likely to get well faster. Similarly, hundreds of herbal products kill microorganisms in the test tube, but fail to prove effective as systemic antibiotics. A substance taken by mouth has to survive the digestive tract and passage through the liver, and reach sufficient concentrations in the bloodstream to produce a meaningful effect. Few substances can do this without simultaneously proving toxic to the body; that’s why antibiotics were not invented until the 20th century and remain difficult to invent even today. Until lapacho’s potential effects as an oral antibiotic are examined directly, it is not reasonable to assume that the herb is likely to help systemic infections.
Lapacho contains many components that don't dissolve in water, so making tea from the herb is not the best idea. It's better to take capsulized powdered bark; a typical dose is 300 to 500 mg 3 times daily. The inner bark of the lapacho tree is said to be the most effective part of the plant.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 08/22/2013 -