Pau d’Arco is recommended as a home treatment for cats but how safe is it? For instance, it is occasionally recommended as a natural cure for cat ear infections.
There is a trend towards home treatments of cat health problems. There are risks in doing this. Also some people prefer natural remedies. I am not decrying natural remedies or this product but “natural” does not necessarily mean good or safe.
Cat caretakers should only treat their cats for health problems when they are completely sure of what they are doing which includes knowing with certainty the potential harm that drugs can do. Essentially all drugs, natural or not, are potential poisons.
Pau d’Arco is a herbal remedy. It comes from the inner bark of the Tabebuia impetiginosa tree (lapacho tree) of S.America. This tree is endangered because of logging, which brings me nicely to the risks of using this remedy…
Quality…Firstly, are you sure of the quality of product. As the tree from which the product comes is endangered can we be sure that the product is not tainted with other ingredients from other similar trees? Also, were are told to be wary of imported Chinese herbs. No surprise there because the Chinese have a poor history of supplying defective and sometimes dangerous pet products.
Active ingredients…..So what is in Pau d’Arco that makes it such a wonder drug? It seems to be able to cure almost anything.
The active ingredient is lapachol. Another constituent is hydroquinone. Lapachol is not listed in a book I have on natural cat health care by Dr Fogle. Wikipedia says it currently has little potential for use in humans because of toxic side effects.
Applying lapachol in the ear, topically, will result in it being absorbed into the body because the skin of the ear is very thin. Sarah Hartwell says it can accumulate in tissue and the liver. There may be toxic side effects.
Sarah says that although hydroquinone is relatively safe in most species, cats are a special case because the cat’s liver is poor at metabolizing it (breaking it down). High levels of hydroquinone in a cat damages the central nervous system. Pretty serious stuff.
Do we know?…One of the biggest turn-offs for this herbal remedy is that my research indicates we don’t really know enough about it. If I am correct we should not be taking risks with our cat’s health.
I’d think twice about using Pau d’Arco as a herbal remedy for cat ear infections.
Dr Fogle mentions:
Caution: over-use of herbal remedies can increase the possibility of an inflammatory sensitivity response.
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