Cat’s Claw or Uncaria tomentosa is a woody vine which is found on trees in the rain forests of Central and South America. It earns its name from the sharp thorns on its stem. The inner bark of the plant is used for medicinal purposes.
Benefits: Cat’s Claw appears to give the immune system a boost, accounting for its popularity in the treatment of AIDS, cancer, viral diseases and other infections. This herb also exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, making it a candidate for treatment of arthritis, gastritis, ulcers and inflammatory bowel disorders. In its native South America, Cat’s Claw is a popular folk medicine for intestinal complaints, ulcers, arthritis, wounds and has been used (in large doses) as a contraceptive. Elsewhere, it has also been used for ailments ranging from asthma to menstrual disorders, depression, acne and haemorrhoids.
Contraindications: Because Cat’s Claw may cause the immune system to reject foreign cells, anyone with organ or tissue transplants, autoimmune disorders (immune system abnormally works against body’s own tissue), multiple sclerosis (a nerve disorder) or tuberculosis should avoid it. Cat’s Claw should also be avoided during pregnancy, lactation and is not recommended for children under 2 years of age.
To be used with Caution amongst: children over 2 years of age and adults over 65 should begin with mild doses and increase the strength gradually if needed. Use by children for more than 7 to 10 days should be done only under the supervision of a doctor. The only potential side effect is diarrhoea.
European herbalists avoid combining Cat’s Claw with hormonal drugs, insulin and vaccines. When it is taken in conjunction with other herbs, the dosage may need reduction.