Lapacho isn’t exactly tea, as it has nothing to do with the tea plant, and therefore tea as we know it. What is it and what is its effect?
What is lapacho
Lapacho is an herbal drink that is prepared from the bark of the tree of the same name. The plant is native to South America. The tree grows in Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina.
It is a tall, slender evergreen tree. It is characterised by its interesting flowers, which range in colour from pink to red. They are even carnivorous, with insects as food. The shiny leaves are elliptical in shape.
In their native homeland, these trees can reach an impressive age of up to 700 years. They commonly grow to a height of 15 to 20 metres. At a glance, you’ll notice the smooth red bark. Their wood is very resistant to decay and disease.
The trees are also grown in Europe as houseplants.
There are several dozen species of these trees. However, only some of them are used for their beneficial health effects. Specifically, the species Lapacho Colorado and Lapacho Morado are well known in this regard.
What effect does lapacho have
It has been attributed with almost miraculous-sounding effects. It has a beneficial effect on blood pressure, is considered to be an antioxidant, supports normal kidney function and has a preventive effect on arthritis, diabetes and asthma, for example.
It also supports our immune system and is used in the treatment of allergies. Lapacho is also used as a relaxant.
Its anti-cancer effect is also much talked about. So far, this natural remedy is in the clinical testing phase. However, the first results indicate that it may be able to stop the growth of tumours in some cases.
But the beneficial effects of this tree were already known to the indigenous people of South America.
In fact, the Indians called it the “tree of the gods”. The bark of this tree was used by the ancient Incas, but according to some sources the tradition is even older.
In Europe, people have known the lapacho since the Viking times. They traded the bark for precious stones, which is how the lapacho reached the old continent. We have further documented by written evidence that lapacho was known as early as 1305, as an unknown monk stated in his notes found in a Macedonian monastery.
It was in the 19th century that medicine began to take this natural remedy seriously. Brazilian doctors were already investigating the effect of administering lapacha to cancer patients at this time.
What substances does it contain?
The main active substances in this drink are naphthoquinones, which are referred to as N-factors, and anthraquinones, or so-called A-factors.
Interestingly, these substances are rarely found together.
Other important components of lapacha also include vitamin C and B vitamins. As modern analyses have shown, if you brew a tea from this plant, you will also give your body a dose of the most important minerals in the form of calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. It also contains trace elements, namely silicon, tin and manganese.
On the other hand, it does not contain caffeine. However, some sources state that children and pregnant women should nevertheless avoid its consumption.
Some producers point out that the tea has no negative side effects, citing that no toxicity has been reported. Other sources, however, point out that the tea may act as an abortifacient if taken over a long period of time.
They therefore warn against long-term use and recommend consulting a doctor.
How and what to make lapacho tea from
If the usefulness of lapacho tea is to be preserved, it should always be prepared from the inner bark. However, some producers also add the outer bark to their blends. The reason is simple: The seller is trying to maximise his profits by this unfair practice for the consumer.
If you buy a good quality lapacho, it is also important to know how to prepare it properly. The recipes vary quite a lot from one another.
The basic recipe describes 4 teaspoons, or 2 tablespoons, of zest per 1 litre of water.
The bark is placed in hot water and allowed to boil for 5 to 10 minutes. The tea is then set aside and left to infuse for about 20 minutes. The drink can be drunk still warm, or even cold. It can be sweetened with honey to taste. The infusion has a specific but delicate taste and a reddish colour.
The maximum recommended daily dose that should be drunk is around 2 to 3 cups.
Why is lapacho illegal
However, beware, since 2018, lapacho has been officially banned in the Czech Republic by Decree No. 58/2018 Coll. Lapacho is listed as a substance not allowed in food production.
The European Union is behind this restriction.
In the Czech Republic, lapacho may not be sold as a food supplement, but also, for example, in the form of a tincture. However, it can still be found in bark form. However, manufacturers should responsibly label their products as unsuitable for internal use. You can, however, make cosmetics out of it, for example, and external use is not restricted.