Tabebuia impetiginosa herb information
November 15 2016

Tabebuia species are native to tropical rain forests throughout Central and South America and are used as a folk medicine to treat bacterial infection, cancer and inflammatory diseases. Tabelula impetiginosa is also known as Pau D’arco and sold as a dietary supplement.

Red Lapacho – A global ethnopharmacological commodity?
J Ethnopharmacol. 2009. Centre for Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy, The School of Pharmacy, University of London, London, UK.
Red Lapacho, Tabebuia impetiginosa, is a canopy tree indigenous to the Amazonian rainforest and other parts of South America. Tabebuia impetiginosa has been acclaimed to be one of the “miraculous” cures for cancer and tumours. For the first time, during the 1960s, it attracted considerable attention in Brazil and Argentina as a ‘wonder drug’. Traditionally, the botanical drug is widely used in local and traditional phytomedicine, usually ingested as a decoction prepared from the inner bark of the tree to treat numerous conditions like bacterial and fungal infections, fever, syphilis, malaria, trypanosomiasis, as well as stomach and bladder disorders. As early as 1873, biomedical uses of Red Lapacho (“Pau D’Arco”) were reported. In 1967 after reports in the Brazilian press it came back to the light of clinicians (and the public in general). The news magazine O’Cruzeiro started reporting “miraculous” cures in cancer patients in a hospital. Natural sciences interest in the plant also began in the 1960s when the United States National Cancer Institute (NCI) systematically began researching plant extracts all over the world looking for active compounds against cancer and looked at Tabebuia impetiginosa in considerable detail.

Active compounds
Two main bioactive components have been isolated from Tabebuia impetiginosa: lapachol and beta-lapachone. beta-Lapachone is considered to be the main anti-tumour compound, and pro-apoptotic effects were observed in vitro. Some mechanistic studies on this compound’s molecular effects have been conducted. The other main constituents isolated from Red Lapacho are also reviewed briefly. The drug appears to be generally safe and one of the most important interactions of Tabebuia impetiginosa has been associated with interference in the biological cycle of Vitamin K in the body. The botanical (drug) material available on the international markets seems to be of varying quality and composition, making a specific assessment of the products’ therapeutic claims problematic. This also highlights the need for appropriate analytical techniques, which are reviewed as well.

Blood thinning, anti platelet
Inhibitory effects of Tabebuia impetiginosa inner bark extract on platelet aggregation and vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation through suppressions of arachidonic acid liberation and ERK1/2 MAPK activation.
J Ethnopharmacology. 2006.
The antiplatelet and antiproliferative activities of extract of Tabebuia impetiginosa inner bark were investigated using washed rabbit platelets and cultured rat aortic vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) in vitro. n-Hexane, chloroform and ethyl acetate fractions showed marked and selective inhibition of platelet aggregation induced by collagen and arachidonic acid in a dose-dependent manner. These fractions, especially the chloroform fraction, also significantly suppressed AA liberation induced by collagen in [(3)H]AA-labeled rabbit platelets. The fractions, especially the chloroform fraction, potently inhibited cell proliferation and DNA synthesis induced by platelet derived growth factor (PDGF)-BB, and inhibited the levels of phosphorylated extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK1/2) mitogen activated protein kinase stimulated by PDGF-BB, in the same concentration range that inhibits VSMC proliferation and DNA synthesis.

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