Herb: Cat’s Claw Bark

cat_s_clawCat’s Claw Bark

Cat’s claw has been used for centuries by Native Peruvians, and now you can get this effective herb as a supplement or extract. The alkaloid constituents in cat’s claw bark help support immune system wellness and digestive health. Cat’s claw grows wild in Central and South America, especially in the Amazon forest. It is a tropical vine that has small curved spines on the stem at leaf juncture.

What is Cat’s Claw? (Una de Gato, Uncaria tomentosa)

Named for the hooked thorns on its fruit that resemble the claw of a cat, this South American vine has traditionally been used for its exceptional anti-inflammatory and rejuvenative properties.

There are 34 reported species of Uncaria. The two major species are U.tomentosa and U. Guianensis both of which are known as uña de gato (Spanish for cat’s claw).

Cat’s Claw is one of the best herbs for joint inflammation, notably that associated with autoimmune-related joint degeneration. Autoimmune conditions occur when the immune system fails to recognize the body as ‘self’ and mounts an immune response against it. This results in inflammation and can lead to damage and destruction of one’s own tissues. Cat’s Claw has been shown to decrease tumor necrosis factor (TNF), an inflammatory compound produced by our white blood cells during an immune response, including autoimmune. Reducing TNF can help to effectively limit the inflammation, pain, and tissue damage that it causes.

Cat’s Claw is also a superb adaptogen, an herb which improves the body’s ability to withstand stress, be it physical, emotional, mental, or environmental.

What is Cat’s Claw used for?

  • Supports healthy immune function
  • Anti-inflammatory, especially for joints
  • Protects against stress
  • Encourages recovery from fatigue

Traditionally it has been used to treat wounds, gastric ulcers, arthritis, dysentery, gonorrhoea, gastric ulcers, cancer of urinary tract.

The major constituents are indole alkaloids (0.15–4.60%), primarily pentacyclic oxindoles.

The most important alkaloid is oxindole alkaloid which works as an immune system stimulant. Another active alkaloid is Isopteropodin which is an immune stimulant and strong antioxidant.

  • Compounds in cat’s claw have anti-microbial activity. They also possess anti-cancer and anti-proliferative effect.
  • Cat’s claw is therapeutic in many stomach related conditions like colitis, IBS, Crohn’s disease, leaky bowel syndrome.
  • Cat claw’s anti-inflammatory action is useful in inflammatory disorders like arthritis and gout. It also hastens wound healing.
  • The bark extract is said to be useful in treating AIDS. Other reported uses include treatment for abscesses, asthma, chemotherapy adverse effects, fever, hemorrhage, etc.


  • Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should avoid using cat’s claw because of its past use for preventing and aborting pregnancy.


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