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Cat's Claw - Uses and Benefits

Family: Rubiaceae.
Genus: Uncaria.
Common Names: Cat's claw, uña de gato, paraguayo, garabato, garbato casha, samento, toroñ, tambor huasca, uña huasca, uña de gavilan, hawk's claw, saventaro.

Cat's Claw Plant Description

Cat's Claw is a tropical vine that grows in rainforest and jungle areas in South America and Asia. Some cultures refer to the plant as the "Sacred Herb of the Rain Forest". This vine gets its name from the small thorns at the base of the leaves, which looks like a cat's claw. These claws enable the vine to attach itself around trees climbing to a heights up to 100 feet.

Uses and Benefits of Cat's Claw

Cat's Claw root and/or inner bark is a medicinal herb used primarily for it's anti-inflammatory actions. Some of the uses of Cat's claw are described below:

  • Cat's claw has been used in Peru and Europe since the early 1990s as an adjunctive treatment for cancer and AIDS as well as for other diseases that target the immune system.
  • In the world of herbal medicines, cat's claw is being used many a times for the treatment of many different types of diseases and conditions - including immune disorders, gastritis, ulcers, cancer, arthritis, rheumatism, rheumatic disorders, neuralgias, chronic inflammation of all kinds, and such viral diseases as herpes zoster (shingles).
  • Scientific Reports show that Cat's Claw has also been used as a contraceptive , for cleansing the intestinal tract, and in helping resist viral infections. It is thought to be an anti-oxidant.

Some other Attributed Properties of Cat's Claw include:

  • Adaptogenic.
  • Anti-microbial.
  • Antioxidant.
  • Anti-viral.
  • Anti-inflammatory.
  • Anti-tumor.

Dosage

Pediatric

There are no known scientific reports on the pediatric use of cat's claw. Therefore, it is not currently recommended for children.

Adult

  • Tea: 1 gram (1,000 mg) root bark to 8 ounces water, boil 10 to 15 minutes, cool, and strain. Drink 1 cup three times daily.
  • Tincture (solution made from herb and alcohol, or herb, alcohol, and water): ¼ to ½ teaspoonful two to three times daily.
  • Dry, encapsulated standardized extract: 20 to 60 mg daily.

Side Effects of Cat's Claw

There are no recorded side effects from the use of cat's claw. However, very few people have been treated with cat's claw in scientific research studies. Some cat's claw products say that they should not be used by pregnant or breast feeding women, and used only in children if recommended by a health care professional. Use cat's claw with caution if you are prone to bleeding disorders or if you are taking drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Consult a health care professional immediately if you experience side effects. It should also be avoided by people with immune disorders like multiple sclerosis.

Drug Interactions

In one in vitro study, cat's claw inhibited activity of the 3A4 isozyme of cytochrome P450, a common drug metabolizing enzyme. This has not been validated in vivo, and no drug interactions have been reported.

Summary Evaluation

The current popularity of cat's claw is based primarily on traditional use, anecdotes, and preliminary in vitro and animal studies. Although cat's claw has been suggested for many different types of diseases, but more deep studies are needed before it can be recommended as a treatment option for any health condition. Remember that tinctures can contain large amounts of alcohol and may cause nausea or vomiting if taken with the drugs disulfiram or metronidazole.

Extracts and chemical constituents have active pharmacologic properties in vitro and in animal experiments that warrant clinical investigation, but there is little objective evidence that cat's claw preparations reliably benefit any medical disorder.

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