Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is a tropical woody vine native to the Amazon forest. Some of its fancy names are Griffe du Chat, Liane du Pérou, Life-giving Vine of Peru, Samento, and Uña de Gato. It has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antimutagenic and antioxidant properties that all make it beneficial for many conditions such as infection, inflammation, and cancer.
Found in cat’s claw are three major groups of chemical compounds known as flavonoids, alkaloids, and terpenoids. Some of the specific compounds present in it are rhynchophylline, isopteropodine, hirsutine, quinovic acid, procyanidins, uncaric acid, and uncarine. These are all responsible for its numerous health benefits.
Health Benefits Of Cat’s Claw
Helps Solve Arthritis Problem
Several studies have found that cat’s claw can help treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. It contains a pentacyclic oxindole alkaloid, an anti-inflammatory compound that can block the production of inflammatory substances such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). Aside from regulating the immune response, TNF is the one responsible for inducing inflammation, fever, and cell death in old cells.
In a study published in the Journal of Rheumatology, results showed that 24 weeks of treatment with cat’s claw extract had reduced number of painful joints compared to placebo.
Promotes a Good Digestive Health
The plant can help replenish friendly bacteria in the intestines and detoxify the intestinal tract. It has anti-inflammatory properties that can help fight inflammation caused by various gastrointestinal problems.
Moreover, it is also used to treat a wide range of other digestive disorders including peptic ulcers, IBS, IBD, colitis, and gastritis.
Can Fight Against Cancer
In a study published by the British Journal of Hematology in 2006, it was revealed that cat’s claw can fight leukemia. Found in this plant are impressive and powerful alkaloids- pteropodin and uncarine F – which can inhibit the growth of human leukemic cells and kill cancer cells.
In a separate study conducted in 2011, experts found that cat’s claw has anti-mutagenic and antipolyprifiable effects on cancer cells thus making it able to prevent the growth of MCF7 in human breast cancer cell line.
Helps Lower High Blood Pressure
For centuries, cat’s claw has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to treat high blood pressure. This is mainly due to its alkaloid content known as hirsutine. This specific alkaloid blocks the calcium from entering the heart and blood vessels while widening and relaxing the blood vessels themselves. This helps the blood to flow in a healthy way.
May Boost Your Immune System
Cat’s claw was found to be able to boost the immune system and calm an overactive immune system. Its immune benefits are due to its anti-inflammatory effects and ability to combat infections effectively.
In a study conducted, results revealed that consumption of 700 mg of cat’s claw extract for 2 months can increase the number of white blood cells which is needed in fighting off infections.
Helps Repair DNA
Chemotherapy damages the DNA of healthy cells and increases the risk of infection. According to a study in 2011, water-soluble cat’s claw extract (250 and 350 milligrams per day) can decrease DNA damage caused by chemotherapy and increase DNA repair.
Moreover, a 2006 study revealed that a water-soluble cat’s claw extract can protect human skin cells from death induced by ultraviolet radiation. Researchers believed that the herb’s extract can be used as a natural sunscreen.
Both its leaves, roots, and bark have been traditionally used in treating various diseases. However, its bark is considered to be the most medicinally useful. It can be made into a tea or powder and be consumed over a given period of time depending on the illness.
Those individuals who are on blood-thinning medication, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women, should avoid taking cat’s claw. Do not consume it in large quantities as is can cause stomach upset due to its large numbers of tannins.
Always consult your healthcare professional if taking medication.