THE CAT'S CLAW
Perhaps the most valuable secret of the Amazon
The Happen The cat's claw (“ Uncaria tomentosa ”) covers the entire Amazon region from Bolivia to Colombia to Panama and Puerto Rico.
It is a liana belonging to the Rubiaceae family that grows on moist, shady soils in the rainforests of the United States Amazon thrives.
Their trunks can grow up to 100m high. It has been used by the indigenous peoples of South America for thousands of years due to its extensive health effects traditional medicine used and as sacred plant revered, whereas with us it is still a medical insider tip.
The curved thorns in the leaf axils, reminiscent of cat claws, gave this plant its name, hence the Spanish synonym "Una de Gato" (=cat's claw). There is another Uncaria species (Uncaria guinaensis), which is used by the indigenous people for the same purpose. However, root extracts are usually obtained from Uncaria tomentosa, as this has been the focus of scientific research for some time.
We have a Tyrolean journalist to thank for the fact that this medicinal plant received attention in Europe. More than 50 years ago, during an expedition to Peru, he got to know the areas of application of cat's claw among indigenous peoples, including one of the main areas - rheumatism. He was responsible for the fact that the cat's claw in Austria, Hungary and Spain is now officially known as a medicinal plant is classified. Since 2004, a drug with cat's claw extract (Krallendorn capsules) has also been approved in Austria for the indication of rheumatoid arthritis.
Which ingredients are responsible for their effect?
Their ingredients are the so-called oxindole alkaloids (such as pteropodine, mitraphilline, uncarine F). There are two chemotypes of cat's claw: one contains predominantly pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids (=POAs), the other predominantly tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids (=TOAs). The immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects seem to come from the POAs, whereas TOAs are able to reduce the effect of the POAs or cause undesirable effects.
Traditionally all parts of this plant are used and applied, whereas in Europe the focus is on the root and root bark. From it, glycerin-containing or alcoholic extracts, capsules with dry extract powder or teas are prepared.
How does it work and what is it used for?
The cat's claw has an antioxidant, antitumor, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and analgesic effect. Accordingly, their areas of application amount to arthritis, acute/chronic inflammation, vascular-associated diseases (e.g. haemorrhoids), cancer, rheumatism, acute and reactive viral diseases as well as to stabilize and build up the immune system (for sources and evidence, continue reading in the text).
What is the study situation like?
This medicinal plant is more and more in the focus of science, especially in the field of (joint) inflammatory, rheumatoid diseases.
Cat's claw appears to exhibit cytokine and immunomodulatory properties that cause an anti-inflammatory effect (1,2,3) . One study examined the effects of a freeze-dried cat's claw extract on osteoarthritis of the knee. Already in the first week, the evaluation parameters, including pain, dropped significantly. Cat's claw appears to be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis (4) .
A year-long, placebo-controlled study of 40 subjects with rheumatoid arthritis was conducted and found a marked reduction in morning stiffness, swelling and pain in the joints compared to the control group (5) .
Cat's claw is one of the plants with the greatest antiviral potential. In South America, for example, it is an integral part of every medicine chest to be used at the first sign of any kind (flu infections, inflammation of the urinary tract, paranasal sinuses, stomach and intestines, etc.). A human study was conducted in 44 HIV patients with cat's claw root extract as adjunctive therapy. The subjects benefited from a stronger immune system and a lower susceptibility to infections (6) .
In another study, a cat's claw extract concomitantly applied before, during and after treatment with a chemotherapeutic agent. The extract reduced side effects caused by chemotherapy and appears to contribute effectively to improving quality of life and recovery during chemotherapy treatments (7) . Some in-vitro studies have shown that cat's claw extracts have antitumor effects, for example by increasing cancer cell apoptosis and the effect of chemotherapy (8.9) .
What is the cat claw used by traditional aborigines?
Asthma, skin diseases, vascular diseases (hemorrhoids), irregular menstrual cycles, contraception, strengthening after childbirth, urinary tract infections and urinary tract cancer, cancer, immune deficiency, body cleansing, HIV, AIDS, rheumatism, arthritis, gastritis, intestinal inflammation.
Who should not take this medicinal plant?
If you want to have children/planned pregnancy/pregnancy, people who are under immunosuppression (immunosuppressive therapy), children and adolescents, as well as severe cardiovascular diseases, the cat's claw should be avoided, as it can have a strong influence on the immune system and Indigenous peoples even use it for contraception.
In summary, the cat's claw, which comes from the Amazon, is a medical insider tip that has its justification in our cupboards. For acute and chronic inflammation, rheumatism, arthrosis, to strengthen the immune system and for symptoms caused by acutely/chronically reactive viruses, one can think of the beautiful Uncaria tomentosa.
Studies and sources:
(1) Serrano A, Ros G & Nieto G (2018). Bioactive Compounds and Extracts from Traditional Herbs and Their Potential Anti-Inflammatory Health Effects. medicines , 5 (3), 76. https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines5030076
(2) Sandoval-Chacón, Thompson, Zhang, Liu, Mannick, Sadowska-Krowicka, Charbonnet, Clark & Miller. (1998). Antiinflammatory actions of cat's claw: the role of NF-κB. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics , 12 (12), 1279-1289. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2036.1998.00424.x
(3) Sandoval M, Charbonnet RM, Okuhama NN, Roberts J, Krenova Z, Trentacosti AM & Miller MJ (2000). Cat's claw inhibits TNFα production and scavenges free radicals: role in cytoprotection. Free Radical Biology and Medicine , 29 (1), 71-78. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0891-5849(00)00327-0
(4) Piscoya J, Rodriguez Z, Bustamante S, Okuhama N, Miller M & Sandoval M (2001). Efficacy and safety of freeze-dried cat's claw in osteoarthritis of the knee: mechanisms of action of the species Uncaria guianensis. Inflammation Research , 50 (9), 442-448. https://doi.org/10.1007/pl00000268
(5) Erich Mur et al, Randomized double blind trial of an extract from the pentacyclic alkaloid chemotype of uncaria tomentosa for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, J Rheumatol, April 2002
(6) Keplinger K, Laus G, Wurm M, Dierich MP & Teppner H (1998). Uncaria tomentosa (Willd.) DC.—Ethnomedicinal use and new pharmacological, toxicological and botanical results. Journal of Ethnopharmacology , 64 (1), 23-34. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0378-8741(98)00096-8
(7) Almeida I, Soares L, Lucio F, Cantagalli L, Reusing A & Vicentini V (2017). Chemotherapeutic effects of the herbal medicine Uncaria tomentosa (Willd.) DC. Genetics and Molecular Research , 16 (3). https://doi.org/10.4238/gmr16039782
(8th) Lafrenie R, Allen L, Buckner A, Buckner C & Cano P (2017). Uncaria tomentosa (Willd. ex Schult.) DC (Rubiaceae) sensitizes THP-1 cells to radiation-induced cell death. Pharmacognosy Research , 9 (3), 221. https://doi.org/10.4103/pr.pr_83_16
(9) Kośmider, A., Czepielewska, E., Kuraś, M., Gulewicz, K., Pietrzak, W., Nowak, R. & Nowicka, G. (2017). Uncaria tomentosa Leaves Decoction Modulates Differently ROS Production in Cancer and Normal Cells, and Effects Cisplatin Cytotoxicity. Molecules , 22 (4), 620. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules22040620
MAG.PHARM. GABRIELA GABRIEL
Graduated pharmacist and training in:
- medicinal mushrooms
- Schuessler salts
- facial analysis
- nutritional supplement
- Nutritional advice (also vegan)