More commonly known as the Cat’s Claw, Uncaria has been used for centuries due to its healing capabilities. Derived from the tropical rainforest regions of Central and South America, cat’s claw has been used by several native tribes in South America for treating asthma and fevers.
Today, Uncaria has been proven to be beneficial for a variety of health complications including dysentery and rheumatism.
Botanical Name and Family of Cat’s Claw
Cat’s claw is known botanically as Uncaria tomentosa and has been used since ancient times dating back to the Inca civilization. There are two different species of cat’s claw, Uncaria tomentosa and Uncaria guianensis, and both are primarily used in medicine.
Uncaria tomentosa is used in the U.S. while Uncaria guianensis is typically used in Europe. They are both apart of the Rubiaceae and also go by the names of Griffe du Chat, Vilcacora, and Uncaria.
What Is Cat’s Claw?
Uncaria is a woody vine that is native to the tropical jungles of Central and South America. Cat’s claw has received its interesting moniker because the vines of this plant have claw-shaped thorns that resemble those of a cat. This herb is different from another one called Cat’s foot and is one of the most popular herbs used in dietary supplements.
The Ash·ninka tribe in central Peru has the longest recorded history of using cat’s claw for medicinal purposes. In fact, Ash·ninka actually worshipped this plant, referring to it as kug-kukjaui. Now today, people all over the world are using Uncaria tomentosa to relieve their common ailments
Active Ingredients Found in Cat’s Claw
Cat’s claw contains flavonoids, carbolines, glucosinolates, indole and oxindole alkaloids, as well as polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Health Benefits of Cat’s Claw
This particular herb is generally used to treat digestive system problems such as gastritis, colitis, hemorrhoids, and diverticulitis. It is also useful against arthritis, viral infections, chronic fatigue syndrome, hay fever, asthma, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Research evidence shows that Cat’s claw possesses valuable antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities and contains the following properties:
Different Ways to Consume Cat’s Claw
The root and bark of Uncaria tomentosa are used to make medicines in the form of a tea, tincture, or supplement. Here are the recommended dosages and administrations.
Tea: Add 1,000 mg of cat’s claw root bark in eight ounces of water; boil for 10 to 15 minutes, strain and cool and drink 1 to 3 cups a day.
Tincture: If you were to use cat’s claw as a tincture ( a solution made from herbs using alcohol and/or water), use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of the tincture 2-3 times a day.
Supplement: Take 100 mg per day for osteoarthritis; 250 to 350 mg per day for immune support.
Side Effects of Cat’s Claw
Many of us have come across this herb or have used it to help aid fairly common ailments. Although it provides a variety of benefits, cat’s claw has been known to cause dizziness, headache, vomiting, skin rash and itching.
It is known to aggravate conditions such as lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, leukemia, and hypotension. It is not recommended to be used by pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. Make sure you consult your doctor before you consider using any natural treatment or taking any form of this herb.
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How to plant a cat’s claw plant?
Press them into a pot of growing soil, but don’t cover them. Keep the soil moist by covering it with plastic wrap – the seeds should germinate in 3 weeks to 3 months. After that, they can be transplanted to their permanent spot in the garden. After that, the plant basically cares for itself, other than occasional watering
Valerio LG Jr, Gonzales GF. Toxicological aspects of the South American herbs cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) and Maca (Lepidium meyenii) : a critical synopsis. Toxicol Rev. 2005;24(1):11-35. Review. PubMed PMID: 16042502.
Sandoval M, Okuhama NN, Zhang XJ, Condezo LA, Lao J, Angeles’ FM, Musah RA, Bobrowski P, Miller MJ. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities of cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa and Uncaria guianensis) are independent of their alkaloid content. Phytomedicine. 2002 May;9(4):325-37. PubMed PMID: 12120814.