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Bark Up The Right Tree

“And God said, Behold, I have given you...every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.”     Genesis 1:29 (KJV)

Modern man has really lost touch with his environment and is suffering dearly for it. Just as so many are still blind to the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, many are also ignorant of the gifts God has given us in nature to sustain our bodies. If you think about all the trees that bear fruit with seed in it, most people only include a very few in their regular diets. And most of those have been so hybridized that they no longer actually even yield viable seed (e.g. oranges, grapes, bananas, kiwis, apples). But there are 1,000s more with gifts to give that researchers are still discovering to this day. One such tree that is the highlight of this post is the Pau D’ Arco tree.

Pau D’Arco is a beautiful tree with magenta blossoms that has been used medicinally in South America to treat cancer and other diseases. Research has found it to contain compounds that have potent anti-fungal properties (even better that common prescription anti-fungal drugs) in laboratory studies. The anti-fungal properties of the herb are so strong, that its bark never molds or mildews after being cut down. Other compounds in the bark are believed to fight bacterial, viral and parasitic infections, and they may also have anti-inflammatory properties. This makes pau d’arco a beneficial treatment for individuals suffering from wounds and infections of all kinds. Pau d’arco works as a blood purifier and blood builder. The herb is often used as an immune system enhancer for treating colds, flu, herpes, yeast infections, vaginitis, candida, boils, ringworm and hepatitis, and to eradicate allergies, asthma, dermatitis and eczema caused by environmental factors. In his book “The Little Herb Encyclopedia,” Jack Ritchason claims that pau d’arco reduces tumors of all kinds by dissolving them. Other medicinal benefits of pau d’arco include reducing insulin dependence in diabetic patients, relieving arthritis pain and the pain associated with cancer, and treating gastritis and peptic ulcers. It is a liver protector and may help neutralize poisons that infiltrate the liver. 1

With a benefits list like that who wouldn’t want to incorporate this powerhouse herb into their diet? Are you dealing with allergies, fighting a yeast/fungal infection, struggling with diabetes or even cancer? Do you really crave a creamy sweet coffee drink, but know that it doesn’t support your health needs? Well, I’d like to present to you the delicious, nutritious, fungus fighting Pau D’Arco Chai Latte. This is an excellent alternative to coffee and regular black tea drinks that have caffeine which is addictive and stresses the body as well as often being loaded with sugar. I’m very excited to share this featured recipe with you. The inspiration for this drink came from my Sister-in-Law, Riley (you can see her other delicious recipes at www.mostlyrawmom.com). I took her basic idea and souped it up. Since most of this recipe comes from a tree, I have decided to call it the “Chai ‘Tree’ Latte”.

Chai “Tree” Latte

2 T pau d’arco bark
1 cinnamon stick
3 red rooibos chai tea bags
1 quart filtered water
1 1/2 cups raw almonds (soaked overnight in water to cover)
1 tsp slippery elm bark powder
1 tsp vanilla (powder or extract)
3 T coconut oil or coconut cream
2 pinch stevia powder or drops liquid extract
1 pinch of sea salt

Put the pau d’arco and cinnamon stick into a non-reactive saucepan with a little over a quart of water. If you like your tea really spicy add in a few cloves and peppercorns, too. Bring to a boil and then simmer covered for 20 min. Turn off the heat and add the rooibos tea bags to steep for 10 min. Allow to cool. Strain almonds and put them in the blender with the strained tea liquid. Blend on high until well blended and then strain through a nut milk bag or fine strainer. Pour the flavored milk back in the blender and add the coconut oil, slippery elm, vanilla, stevia and sea salt. Then blend till frothy. Add ice or re-warm to your liking. This recipe makes 1 quart which will keep in the refrigerator for 1-2 days or it can be frozen in ice cube trays to blend into a frappachino another time.  I did the math and this recipe costs approximately $3.75/quart with all organic ingredients. So you're getting 3 coffee shop lattes for the price of one without paying the price with your health.

To simplify this recipe, you could use any milk of your choosing (pre-made nut milk, coconut milk, or dairy milk and/or cream). Be aware though that most store bought nut milks are laden with sugar and harmful oils. As far as dairy goes, I’m a fan of raw cow and goat milk from healthy grass-fed animals. However, since most people who would want to make this drink will probably do so for medicinal purposes, dairy could aggravate the ailments for which this recipe was intended.

There are two other complimentary herbal tree barks in this recipe, cinnamon and slippery elm, which add flavor and additional healing properties. Cinnamon kills bacteria and yeasts that cause stomach ulcers and urinary-tract infections, and even helps the body regulate blood sugar. A few years ago, it was discovered that just the smell of cinnamon could improve cognitive function.2  Slippery Elm, which acts as an emulsifier in this recipe, is a mucilaginous herb also helps absorb toxins in the bowel. In fact, slippery elm bark powder is very soothing to the entire digestive system. It coats, relaxes, and heals all inflamed tissues including irritated mucous membranes of the stomach, bowels, and kidneys. For this reason it is especially useful for treating diarrhea and bowel weakness. Since the herb is slightly sweet, it is a great nourishing food for sick children.3

My kids really like this drink and always ask for more. I agree with Mary Poppins that medicine should taste good...except just without the sugar. And that’s another highlight of this recipe...it’s sugar free. Instead it uses the herbal sweetener stevia which does not affect blood sugar or feed yeast and bacterial infections. The rooibos tea, rich in antioxidants, also has a hint of sweetness and confers the benefits of calming the digestive tract, reducing nervous tension, enhancing immune response, and balancing blood sugar and blood fats.4  Last but not least, coconut oil gives this tea its delicious creaminess while at the same time providing enormous health benefits like optimizing healthy body weight, fighting viral, fungal and bacterial infections, and protecting against Alzheimer's and heart disease.5

If you decide to drink this regularly for it’s anti-fungal effects, many sources recommend to discontinue use for one week out of every three and rotate with the use of other anti-fungal herbs to prevent candida yeasts from developing resistance to herbal medicines. It is advised that you consult a health professional knowledgeable in herbal medicine before taking any herbal supplement, especially if you are currently taking prescription drugs or suffer from serious illness.

P.S. If you’re wondering what to do with the left over almond pulp, check out my next post for a delicious cracker recipe.

* Opening photo by Irene Nobrega.

1 Pau D’Arco Herb Benefits and Uses.  The Modern Herbal: Healing With Herbs, Essential Oils, Home Remedies and Alternative Medicine. 28 May 2012 <http://themodernherbal.com/2010/06/pau-darco-herb-benefits-and-uses/>.

2 Eifrig, David Jr.. “Can Spices Improve Your Brain Power?” Bulk Herb Store. 16 May 2012 <http://www.bulkherbstore.com/Cinnamon-Sticks-Whole_Organic>.

3 Herbs: Slippery Elm Bark Powder.  Bulk Herb Store.  28 May 2012 <http://www.bulkherbstore.com/Slippery-Elm-Bark-Powder?s=slippery%20elm>.

4 Mulder.  “Rooibos The Miracle Tea.”  Hub Pages. 28 May 2012 <http://mulder.hubpages.com/hub/Rooibos-The-Miracle-tea>.

5 Mercola, Joseph.  “This Cooking Oil is a Powerful Virus-Destroyer and Antibiotic…”  Mercola.com Take Control of Your Health. 22 Oct 2010. 28 May 2012 <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/10/22/coconut-oil-and-saturated-fats-can-make-you-healthy.aspx>.