Cat’s claw is a climbing vine that grows in many countries in Central and South America, especially in the Amazon. Two species, Uncaria tomentosa and Uncaria guianensis, have traditionally been used to treat arthritis, digestive problems, and viral infections. The use of this woody vine dates back to the Inca civilization. The active ingredients are extracted from the bark and root of the vine. Both types of Uncaria are currently being evaluated by modern research methods. Small studies performed with humans have shown a possible benefit for people with both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The results of another study funded by the National Institute on Aging suggested that cat’s claw may have some effects that could benefit Alzheimer’s disease, but further research is needed. In one study, human volunteers who took Cat’s claw for 8 weeks showed improved DNA repair. Cat’s Claw may stimulate the immune system, help relax the smooth muscles (such as the intestines), dilate blood vessels (helping lower blood pressure), and act as a diuretic (helping the body eliminate excess water). Cat’s claw also has antioxidant properties, helping the body eliminate particles known as free radicals that damage cells.
Method of Administration
Cats claw is normally taken as a bark decoction (boiling a specific amount of herb in water) and contains different alkaloids (including rhynchophylline and isorhynchophyllin) that are responsible for its effects.
Cat’s Claw is nontoxic at standard dosing levels. At higher doses, cat’s claw may be toxic. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use cat’s claw. There are no known significant food or drug interactions. Cat’s claw may interfere with controlling blood pressure during or after surgery.