Cat’s claw – latin name uncaria tormentosa is a woody Amazonian vine has only recently caught the attention of western herbalists and researchers. Its Spanish name is una de gato, and it is native to the jungles of Peru where it can be found wrapped around trees of the Amazon rain forest.
Though a relatively young herb in the western world, cat’s claw has been used traditionally for centuries, by the Ashaninka Indians. The native people of Peru would boil cat’s claw root and bark to prepare a medicinal tea or decoction for the treatment of tumours and other serious diseases.
In order to protect this important plant in the ever decreasing rain forests, Peruvian laws have been set up to ban the extraction and export of cat’s claw root. The inner bark, which is just as rich in active constituents, is to be used only. Leaving the root allows the vine to naturally replenish itself.
It is said that the Ashaninka women would boil up large doses of fresh shredded cat’s claw bark into a tea, to use for contraceptive purposes.
Since the 1970s, studies and research have been carried out by scientists in Peru, Germany, Austria, England and other countries, to find out more about the powerful healing properties of cat’s claw.
Some advocates of cat’s claw suggest that the therapeutic actions of this herb are superior to those of pau d’arco, echinacea, goldenseal and astragalus.
Uses of cat’s claw
It does seem that cat’s claw is a modern elixir with suggested benefits for all aspects of intestinal problems – from Crohn’s disease to parasites; and many ailments associated with immune system deficiencies.
Research has identified alkaloid constituents that are responsible for cat’s claw immune strengthening action. This may be the reason it has been used by the natives of Peru for centuries to treat tumours.
Cat’s claw has been used to assist with:
- Crohn’s disease
- Gastritis and duodenal ulcers
- Intestinal inflammation
- Balancing intestinal flora
Cat’s claw can help to stimulate the immune system and has been reported to ease problems associated with:
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Infections, both viral and fungal. For example, Herpes and Candida
Tincture: 20 – 40 drops in a little water or juice 3 times daily.
Capsules (325mg min): 1 – 2 capsules 3 times daily with food or drink.
Or follow the instructions on any proprietary pack of a cat’s claw product being used.
Cat’s claw can often be found combined with other ‘immune’ herbs with similar healing properties. A popular combination is cat’s claw and echinacea.
Cat’s Claw should not be used during pregnancy.
According to some US studies, Cat’s Claw should not be taken with anti-ulcer medications or by transplant patients.
We recommend that you seek the advice of your health practitioner if you are taking any medication, before using this herb.
Cat’s claw is a fairly ‘new’ herb (in the West) compared to other herbs which have had their uses documented for centuries, such as echinacea or garlic. Research on this herb only started in the 1970s, but through word of mouth mainly it has become one of the best selling herbs in the USA.
This herb seems to match echinacea’s immune system properties as well as those of pau d’arco. It should also be considered when digestive support is needed.