Cat's Claw (UŮa De Gato)

Uncaria tomentosa; Uncaria guianensis

The name, Cat's claw, was derived from the pattern of thorns found on the vines. It comes from the Peruvian rain forest and was traditionally used by the indigenous people to treat cancer and arthritis. Recent studies indicate that it contains immune-enhancing substances, including several antioxidant compounds which may account for the antitumor properties reported for cat's claw. Treatments have been reported to lead to remission of brain and other tumors. While published data is lacking, cat's claw should be considered in tumors of the central nervous system.

The root and bark are the parts used. Constituents include pteropodine, isopteropodine, rhynchophylline, mytraphylline, hirsutine, and quinovic acid glycosides.

An immune stimulating effect due to alkaloid constituents, including pteropodine and isopteropodine. Rhynchophylline seems to relax endothelial blood vessels, dilate peripheral blood vessels, inhibit sympathetic nervous system activity, and lower heart rate and blood cholesterol. Mytraphylline seems to have diuretic activity. Hirsutine seems to inhibit bladder contractions, cause local anesthesia at low doses, and provide curare-like actions at high dose. Several quinovic acid glycoside constituents seem to have antiviral activity in vitro, and anti-inflammatory activity in rats.

Possibly effective as an immune system stimulant. Clinical studies on the effectiveness of catís claw have used extracts of the stem and root standardized to 4% alkaloids. There is insufficient reliable information to support using catís claw for any of its other uses.

Other Uses:
Used orally for many conditions related to the gastrointestinal tract and other uses:
  • Diverticulitis, peptic ulcers, colitis, gastritis, hemorrhoids, parasites, and leaky bowel syndrome.
  • Combination therapy with zidovudine (AZT) in HIV.

    Recently evaluated for use in fighting viral infections such as herpes zoster, herpes simplex, and HIV.

    In past years, it was used most commonly for wound healing, treating intestinal ailments, gastric ulcers and tumors, gonorrhea, dysentery, cancers of the urinary tract, as an anti-inflammatory, contraceptive, tonic to ward off disease, treat bone pains, and cleanse the kidneys.

    Since catís claw may lower blood pressure, exercise caution if it is being used along with an antihypertensive drug. Those with hypotension should use cat's claw with caution because catís claw may further reduce blood pressure and cause problems

    Side Effects:
    Occasionally diarrhea results when the dose of catís claw is too large. It may lead to hypotension. May contribute to unusual bruising, or bleeding gums. Possible dizziness when rising so be careful to get up slowly.

    This drug is possibly unsafe. Catís claw bark might be safer than the root.

    Avoid using during pregnancy or while lactating. Remember that catís claw is sometimes used as a contraceptive and women should be advised to stop its use immediately upon learning that they are pregnant.

    There is very little scientific evidence of its safety or efficacy. In addition, the active constituents vary greatly in concentration, depending on the time of year the catís claw is harvested. It also seems that up to twenty different plants are sometimes identified as ďcatís clawĒ and therefore the chance exists that people may be purchasing something that they THINK is catís claw and it may not be. Remember that catís claw is different than Devilís claw.

    Consumed by mouth as capsules or as a tea. People often use 500-1000 mg once to three times a day. Tablets and capsules containing the raw herb are available in many strengths, such as 400 mg, 500 mg, 800 mg, 1 gram, and 5 grams. Some people prepare and consume cats claw tea by simmering 1 gram of the root bark in 150 mL of boiling water for five to ten minutes and then straining. The tea is consumed three times daily. (Clinical studies on the effectiveness of catís claw have used extracts of the stem and root standardized to 4% alkaloids.)

    Canine: Use ľ the adult human dose for small dogs, Ĺ dose for medium dogs and the human dose in large dogs.