LaPacho plays a central role in the herbal medicine of several South American indigenous peoples. LaPacho bark is typically used during flu and cold season and for easing smoker's cough. It works by promoting the lungs to expectorate and free deeply embedded mucus and contaminates during the first three to ten days of treatment.
LaPacho is used by herbalists as a putative treatment for cancer, HIV, and numerous other maladies. Studies by the U.S. National Cancer Institute showed that LaPacho may prevent, delay, or treat cancer; but the oral doses needed to reach useful levels in the blood also cause severe side effects. Brazilian 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, who supports Dr. Martin, is 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.