Biological Name: Uncaria tomentosa
Other Names: Cat’s Claw, Una de Gato
Parts Used: root bark
Oxyindole alkaloids appear to give cat’s claw much of its activity, particularly to stimulate the immune system. The alkaloids and other constituents, such as glycosides, may account for the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions of this herb.
Although cat’s claw has become very popular in North America and is used for cancer and HIV, there is little scientific evidence to support the use of cat’s claw for these conditions.
Cat’s claw has been reportedly used by indigenous peoples in the Andes to treat inflammation, rheumatism, gastric ulcers, tumors, dysentery, and as birth control. Cat’s claw is popular in South American folk medicine for intestinal complaints, gastric ulcers, arthritis, and to promote wound healing.
Cat’s Claw grows in the rain forests of the Andes mountains in South America, particularly in Peru. The root bark is used as medicine.
A cat’s claw tea is prepared from 1 gram of root bark by adding 250 ml (1 cup) of water and boiling for ten to fifteen minutes. After cooling and straining, one cup is drunk three times per day. Alternatively, 1-2 ml of tincture can be taken up to two times per day, or 20-60 mg of a standardized dry extract can be taken per day.
No serious adverse effects have yet been reported. Cat’s claw is contraindicated in autoimmune illness, multiple sclerosis, and tuberculosis. European practitioners avoid combining this herb with hormonal drugs, insulin, or vaccines. Cat’s claw, until proven safe, should be taken only with great caution by pregnant or lactating women.