Teams of Scientists from U.S. Universities are searching the jungles and rainforests of South America for plants whose leaves, roots or barks may hold the secrets to preventing or even curing such diseases as cancer, AIDS, leukemia and asthma.
While some scientists scoff at the idea that South American plants could cure cancer or AIDS, others are well aware that the cure for scurvy was as simple as eating citrus. Quinine, taken from the bark of the South American Cinchona tree is a medicinally accepted treatment for malaria. Many of our modern "wonder drugs" were first discovered in the leaves or inner barks of plants and trees. After the healing compounds were isolated, they were synthesized and are now produced in chemical laboratories.
Unfortunately, these man-made medicines often cause serious side effects. Many practitioners of herbal medicine find that harmful side effects are rare in herbal medicine due to the natural buffers which nature also included in the plants.
One of the renowned of the healing herbs is Lapacho. The inner lining of the bark of either the Red or the Purple Lapacho Tree has been used for centuries as an effective treatment for cancer and other dread diseases. News of the benefits of drinking a tea prepared from Red or Purple Lapacho has been widely reported.
South American medical doctors who discovered Lapacho in the pharmacopoeia of the natives were the first to experiment with it as a treatment for cancer. Dr. Walter Accorsi reported that it "eliminated the pains caused by the disease and multiplies the body's production of red corpuscles". Numerous South American physicians tried Lapacho with their patients and the claims of cures of cancer and other diseases became abundant. North Americans have been trying Lapacho tea for a few years now. Reports that have appeared in various U.S. publications are both informative and encouraging: Lets live, February 1985 said, "Over the past 20 years reports from doctors and patients have indicated that this bark, when ingested (usually in tea form), has cured terminal leukemia, arthritis, yeast and fungus infections, arrested pain, stopped athlete's foot and cured the common cold." And it "has been found to be an effective analgesic, sedative, decongestant, diuretic and hypotensive." The July 1985 issue of Vegetarian Times reported that Red and/or Purple Lapacho "is currently being hailed for its effects on cancer and candida...Traditional herbalists agree that it strengthens and balances the immune system" and is currently used as a remedy for immune system-related problems such as colds, flu, boils, infections, and that "tests have anti-malarial and anti-cancer activities". Further, the article stated that drinking Red or Purple Lapacho tea, "can combat infection, give great vitality, build up immunity to disease, strengthen cellular structure and help eliminate pain and inflammation...It can be taken either periodically as a preventive, or used consistently during an active infection."
The October 8, 1985 issue of Globe stated that "Lapacho, a proven antibiotic, is often used in America to treat yeast infections, but is touted in South America as a cure for cancer and other diseases. The experts say it can also arm the body against viral infestations like AIDS...". "taking certain herbs is the perfect health measure to protect yourself against AIDS," says Dr Paul Lee, former director of the Platonic Academy of Herbal studies in Santa Cruz, California." AIDS researchers are keenly interested in natural substances like herbs that enhance the immune response", says Dr. Tom Baldwin, Associate Professor of immunology at the University of Texas Health Science Center. "We have already identified plants that have effect, and there is good reason to investigate further", he told Globe. The article also indicates that a combination of Lapacho and YerbaMate is especially effective.
The Spotlight, June 8, 1981, lists 35 diseases which Red and/or Purple Lapacho has purportedly cured, or relieved. Malignant germs that cause all these diseases cannot withstand the antibiotics this mighty tree secretes.
Researchers isolated a substance in Lapacho tea that apparently contains a chemical chain, anti-tumor agent. Dr. Paulo Martin, a medical researcher for the Brazilian government stated, "We isolated a compound we called quechua from Lapacho and found it to be a powerful antibiotic, with virus-killing properties." Dr. Norman Farnsworth of the University of Illinois, both herbal medicine experts, agree with Dr. Martin and are quoted as saying: "Lapacho undoubtedly contains a substance found to be highly effective against cancer." Some feel that one of the most significant contributions of Lapacho tea is the elimination of pain. Apparently this takes about 3 days of drinking a quart of Red or purple Lapacho tea each day, properly prepared, and 2-3 cups per day thereafter.
Tests indicate that the toxicity of Lapacho tea is about 1/10 that of caffeine. The only reported side effect seems to be nausea experienced by a few people when the tea is first used. This is said to be a purging effect, and that once the poisons are purged from the body the nausea goes away. Many cancer patients who have used Lapacho were also receiving medical treatment, and it appears that Lapacho can be used successfully in conjunction with ongoing medical therapy. Some report that the tea appeared to increase effectiveness of chemotherapy with a parallel decrease in deleterious side effects when Lapacho tea is used.
One question that has stumped researchers is why Lapacho is so very beneficial to some people and some others have no observable results. Possible answers range from the chemical interaction of the Lapacho tea inside the body to using adulterated Lapacho bark or even bark from the wrong Lapacho tree. The old Roman phrase, caveat emptor- - let the buyer beware, is applicable when buying Lapacho, Pau d'arco or Taheebo. As with many newly discovered helpful treatments, Lapacho is being marketed and used, often without appropriate background info. Unscrupulous suppliers have found it very profitable to grind up both the inner and worthless, bitter outer bark, and sometimes the entire tree, often without regard as to whether or not it was the correct Lapacho tree. This adulterated or even worthless material is shipped to unwary American packagers and is sold to the public as Pau d'arco, Taheebo, Ipe Roxo or Lapacho. Fortunately, there is also very high quality Lapacho in the U.S. The challenge facing the consumer, in order to achieve maximum effectiveness, is to know which of all the brands available is truly 100% inner lining of the Red or Purple Lapacho Tree.
While there are numerous varieties of Lapacho trees in South America, only the inner lining of the tree has has known medical value. It is this inner lining (or phloem) which carries nutrients made by the leaves to other parts of the tree and is, with the cambium layer (where all the new cells are produced) the "life" of the tree.