History and Use of Cat’s Claw 

Claw of the cat
Claw of the cat

Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is a woody vine that grows in the Amazon rainforest. Much of the cats claw sold in the United States is grown in Peru. 

Also known as “una de gato,” cats claw has hook-like thorns growing along the vine that resemble the claws of a cat. Both the root and inner bark of the vine are used in medicinal preparations. 

Cats claw has been used as a healing plant for more than 2,000 years. Since the 1970s, word-of-mouth reports from consumers, plus the research done in Europe and South America, have made cats claw one of the best-selling herbs in the United States.

Qualities of the Herb

  • Anti-microbial
  • Antiviral
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-tumor
  • Anti-oxidant
  • Adaptogenic (for help with stress)
Cat's Claw Botanical Drawing

Traditional practices, as well as various studies and anecdotal evidence, indicate cats claw may be useful in treating a variety of disorders, such as:

  • Arthritis
  • Auto-immune conditions
  • Bursitis
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Organic depression
  • Lupus
  • Allergies
  • Cancer
  • Herpes
  • Stomach and intestinal disorders

Cat’s Claw Boosts Disease Fighting Ability

Much of the interest in cats claw revolves around reports of seven different oxindole alkaloids that have been documented to have a stimulating effect on the immune system. The most active of these alkaloids (Isomer A) has been found to increase  immune response, as well as acting as an antioxidant in removing free radicals from the body. 

Cats claw was also shown to facilitate DNA repair in human volunteers who took the drug for 8 weeks.

Cat’s Claw and Cancer

According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) website, “Cat’s claw inhibits the growth of cancer cells in the labs.” However, the website notes that data in human trials is lacking. 

Catsclaw is seen to help with cancer-treatment side effects. MSK states that it may protect against low white blood cell count in patients (after chemo), and improve the quality of life in those with advanced cancer.

Researchers have suggested that cats claw may have a “direct anti-proliferative activity” on a breast cancer cell line known as MCF7. This has led to the use of cats claw as an adjunctive treatment for cancer. 

Cats claw is a useful additive to bloodroot capsules as it appears to affect a wider range of tumors. 

Relieving Systemic Inflammation

Certain alkaloids in cats claw have been found to help provide anti-inflammatory assistance, which suggests it may be useful in treating gout, arthritis and other disorders caused by chronic inflammation. 

Digestive Problems

Dr. Brent Davis has written about the ability of cats claw to detoxify the intestinal tract,  This could provide relief for a variety of bowel and intestinal disorders, including:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Leaky bowel syndrome
  • Colitis
  • Crohn’s disease

Researchers are investigating cats claw for use in the treatment of other diseases, including:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Bladder Cancer 
  • HIV
  • Endometriosis
  • Kidney problems

Sources

Further Reading

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