Pau d'Arco — made from the bark of a large evergreen tropical tree found in the rainforests of the Amazon, South America and Latin America1 — is a potent antiparasitic remedy with a long history of use by indigenous populations. It also has antimicrobial, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as analgesic, antioxidant, astringent and laxative effects. It’s one of the supplements I take on a daily basis for its mitochondrial, immune-boosting and antiaging benefits.
Uses and Benefits of Pau D’Arco
Traditional and indigenous medicine has used Pau d’Arco for at least 1,500 years for the treatment of wounds, aches and pains, malaria and other tropical diseases, colitis, respiratory infections, fever, inflammation, boils, ulcers and more. Many of its benefits have been traced back to blood cleansing compounds and compounds that inhibit harmful microorganisms.
Fight a wide range of infections, including malaria, staph, vaginitis caused by Candida, athlete’s foot and fungal infections affecting your nails and skin
Boost immune function and relieve symptoms associated with colds, cough and influenza
Relieve pain associated with arthritis, rheumatism and fibromyalgia
Relieve symptoms associated with liver disease, Hodgkin lymphoma, osteomyelitis, Parkinson’s disease, hemorrhoids, allergies and more
Reduce your risk of obesity, in part by lowering blood triglycerides
Reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease
Boost strength and vigor
Pau D’Arco Boosts Energy Production in Your Mitochondria
Interestingly, one of the ingredients in this tree bark is beta-lapachone, which is a potent catalyst for a molecule called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+). NAD+, found in every cell in your body, is a receptor for electrons in the electron transport chain in your mitochondria. By increasing NAD+ intercellularly, Pau d’Arco helps improve mitochondrial ATP production. This is beneficial for health in general, but it’s particularly important if you're fighting disease.
NAD+ also acts as a signaling molecule — it basically acts as a sensor for stress and disease. (For an extensive discussion on what NAD+ is, its benefits, the effects of low NAD+, and various ways to boost it, see SelfHacked.com’s article, “How to Boost NAD+: The Molecule of Youth.”6) NAD+ declines with age, and antiaging researchers have identified this molecule as one of the primary control mechanisms for slowing down the aging process,7 and may actually be the most critical one. As explained by Life Extension Magazine:8
“As NAD+ levels decline, mitochondrial function is impaired, resulting in fewer mitochondria surviving. This vicious cycle of mitochondrial depletion results in many of the physical symptoms of aging … It has long been known that NAD+ plays an important role in transferring energy released from glucose and fatty acids to the mitochondria so that it can be converted into cellular energy.
Without sufficient NAD+, energy transfer in the cells breaks down, resulting in age-accelerating mitochondrial dysfunction. NAD+ is an essential cofactor of key enzymes responsible for longevity called sirtuins … NAD+ directly activates sirtuins to regulate the genes of aging. Sirtuins, specifically SIRT1 and SIRT3, are intimately related to longevity through their control of gene expression and require NAD+ for their activity.
Research into the sirtuins continues to yield substantial information on how to control aging. By activating these sirtuins, we’re able to gain control over one of our body’s antiaging ‘switches.’ SIRT enzymes ‘turn off’ certain genes that promote aging, such as those involved in inflammation, in fat synthesis and storage, and in blood sugar management.”