(UŮa de Gato)
Uncaria tomentosa (Willd) DC
Part Used: Dried inner bark (Peru)
Cat's Claw is a tropical vine that grows in rainforest and jungle areas in South America, particularly in Peru and Asia. Some cultures refer to the plant as the "Sacred Herb of the Rain Forest". This vine gets its name from the small thorns at the base of the leaves, which looks like a cat's claw. These claws enable the vine to attach itself around trees climbing to the height up to 100 feet. The plant is considered a valuable medicinal resource and is protected in Peru. Although scientific research has just recently begun to explore Cat's Claw, many cultures native to the South American rain forest areas have used this herb for hundreds of years. It is useful for the immune function, inflammation and minor injuries. The active constituent, Oxyindole alkaloids, appear to give Cat's Claw much of its activity, particularly to stimulate the immune system. The alkaloids and other constituents, such as glycosides, may account for the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions of this herb.
Cat's Claw has long been used as a homeopathic treatment for intestinal ailments. The uses include: Crohn's disease, gastric ulcers and tumors, parasites, colitis, gastritis, diverticulitis and leaky bowel syndrome. By stimulating the immune system, it can also improve response to viral and respiratory infections. Probably the best-researched use of catís claw is for the relief of arthritis pain. Results from animal studies and reports of human cases show that taking Catís Claw by mouth may have anti-inflammatory effects for individuals with either osteoarthritis (the deterioration of joints due to wear and tear) or rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disease in which the bodyís immune system attacks cartilage and synovial fluid in joints). Although the reasons are not all known, it is believed that chemicals in Catís Claw block the production of substances such as prostaglandins and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha, which are involved in inflammation. Various chemicals in it are known to promote the loss of water from the body, relax smooth muscles, and widen small blood vessels in the hands and feet. All these effects may help to lower blood pressure. Catís Claw may have immune-system effects, as well.
Herbal Information Center. http://www.kcweb.com/herb/catsclaw.htm
Drug Digest. http://www.drugdigest.org/DD/DVH/HerbsWho/0,3923,552513%7CUncaria+tomentosa,00.html