The Cat’s Claw Plant (Uncaria Tomentosa) is a climbing vine that is prevalent in South America and Asia, and is distinctive in appearance by it’s yellow flowers and small thorns. It has been long used in the practice of Alternative Medicine within Indigenous Cultures, so much so that the Country of Peru has enacted laws to protect it’s presence. It’s recent popularity in North America has been attributed in large part to immigration of South Americans. While widespread claims of curative properties of Cat’s Claw have been reported for hundreds of years, Scientific Research has recently accelerated it’s investigation of the plant. Clinical trials, as well as Cat’s Claw in combination with conventional drugs have begun to examine the scope of possible uses for the Cat’s Claw Plant. In fact,, the extract of the Cat’s Claw Plant have been studied along with the drug AZT in the treatment of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and the ability of Patients to absorb drugs.
Nearly every portion of the plant has been used in some application of alternative medicine. Commercially manufactured as an Herbal Supplement, most utilized are the bark and root and sold in the form of capsules, tea, and extract.
Derivatives of Cat’s Claw contain three Steroidal chemical compounds – Stigmasterol, Campesterol, and Beta-Sitosterol. These compounds have been studied to successfully produce anti-inflammatory results, and are viewed as a possible aid in the treatment of Arthritis and other joint diseases. Also present in the plant are Alkaloids shown to reduce Blood Pressure. These Alkaloids have shown in some trials to increase blood circulation and slow Heart rate, thus making the Cat’s Claw Plant a target of further research in the fields of Congestive Heart Failure, Angina, and Coronary Artery Disease. The Pentacyclic Alkaloids present in Cat’s Claw are known to produce results boosting the Immune System. These have uses in Gastrointestinal Disorders such as Colitis, Gastric Ulcers, and Diverticulitis. Glycosides in Cat’s Claw are used to treat Edema and Arthritis. One study supported the possible use of Cat’s Claw as an antioxidant and antibacterial, also as a treatment agent in viral infections and Cancer.
In considering the Cat’s Claw Plant for personal health concerns, it is best to seek the advice of a trained professional. Doctors of Naturopthic Medicine are specifically educated in Alternative Medicine, and are most adept at the administration of herbal remedies. While Cat’s Claw may relieve one physical problem, it may result in undesired effects in other areas of wellness. Individuals should not consume any Cat’s Claw Products who are allergic to plants in the Rubiaceae Family, as reactions are more likely. As with any medicine whether Herbal or Conventional, follow dosage directions closely. In Individuals with weakened immune systems, Cat’s Claw should be only be taken under the direct supervision of a Licensed Physician.