Cat's Claw also known as
Uña de Gato, Uncaria tormentosa
Cat's claw is a South American jungle vine with cat like claws that grip and climb upward throughout the rich forests. It has been used in South American medicine systems such as shamanism to enhance the immune system and relax the body especially for those with arthritis or inflammatory issues.
Cat's claw has a number of healthy compounds that enhance the immune system, improve circulation and relax the nerves. It is strongly believed to have life giving properties by many native groups, heralding its place as one of the top rain forest medicines.
rhynchophylline, isorhynchophylline, Pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids (pteropodine, isopteropodine, isomitraphylline, uncarine F), tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids, quinovic acid glycosides, procyanidins, triterpenoid saponins.
Shredded bark and powder
Cat's claw has a history of tribal use in South America for wound healing and for treating arthritis, stomach ulcers, intestinal disorders, and some skin disorders and tumors. . The part used medicinally is the inner bark of the vine or root. In Peru, a boiled water extract of U. guianensis is used for inflammation, arthritis, and contraception, as well as for treating stomach ulcers and tumors, gonorrhea (by the Bora tribe), diarrhea (by the Indian populations of Colombia and Guiana), and cancers of the urinary tract in women. The Ashanica Indians believe that samento (U. tomentosa) has life-giving properties and ingest a cup of the extracts every 1 to 2 weeks to ward off disease, treat bone pain, and cleanse the kidneys. Other reported uses include treatment for abscesses, asthma, chemotherapy adverse effects, fever, bleeding, rheumatism, skin impurities, urinary tract inflammation, weakness, and wounds, as well as for disease prevention and recovery from childbirth.
Demand for the bark has been partially attributed to European clinical use with zidovudine in AIDS treatment. The demand for the bark in the United States is based on its purported use as a tea in treating diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, colitis, gastritis, parasites, and "leaky gut syndrome." There are, however, no controlled clinical trials to support these uses.
Cat's claw products should be avoided before and after surgery, as well as by those using immunosuppressant therapy and in children due to lack of safety data.
1. Cat's Claw. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons [database online]. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Health Inc; September 2011.