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MoonDragon's Health & Wellness
Nutrition Basics


(Uncaria Tomentosa)

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  • Cats Claw Herbal Description
  • Cats Claw Uses, Health Benefits & Scientific Evidence
  • Cats Claw Dosage Information
  • Cats Claw Safety, Cautions & Interactions
  • Cats Claw Herbal Supplements & Products

  • cats claw


    Cats Claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is also known as Cat's Claw, Samento, Gambir Plant, Garabato, and Saventaro. Other common names include Hawk's Claw, Pot Hook, and Sparrowhawk Nail. In Spanish it is known as Una de Gato or as its Indian name, Vilcacora. The common name, Cats Claw, refers to at least 20 plants with sharp curved thorns, both native to the South and Central American tropical rain forests, with most of the commercial production focused on Uncaria tomentosa. Ethically harvested cat's claw bark is a major source of income for many Brazilian and Peruvian villages.

    cats claw leaves and thorns

    Cat's Claw (Gambir) is a woody, climbing vine-like shrub found in the tropical jungles and native (indigenous) to the Amazon rain forest, with its habitat being restricted primarily to the tropical areas of South and Central America, such as; Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Trinidad and more. The herb earns its name from the curved thorns on the vine that resemble the claws of a cat. Uncaria tomentosa can grow up to 100 feet tall, climbing by means of these thorns up the sides of of 100 foot tall trees. The leaves are elliptic with a smooth edge, and grow in opposite whorls of two. It is used as an alternative medicine in the treatment of a variety of ailments. Cat's Claw is now a major source of revenue for the Ashaninka Indian tribe of Peru.

    Two species of Cat's Claw are found in the rain forest and commonly used in North America and Europe, Uncaria tomentosa (small yellowish-white flowers) and Uncaria guianensis (reddish-orange flowers and thorns that are more curved). Although these species are similar in appearance and are frequently confused, they each have different properties and uses and have been used in many of the same ways. Uncaria tomentosa has been more heavily researched for medicinal use and immune modulation and has revealed it to be more valuable as a therapeutic agent. Uncaria guianensis may be more useful for osteoarthritis. Unicaria tomentosa is further divided into two chemotypes with different properties and active compounds, a fact ignored by most manufacturers that can have significant implications on both its use as an alternative medicine and in clinical trials to prove or disprove its efficacy. Another species, Uncaria rhynchophylla, has usage in Chinese medicine, and several unrelated species bear the same nickname.

    Research on Cat's Claw began in the 1970's; it did not gain worldwide attention until the 1990's. The World Health Organization in May of 1994 sponsored the First International Conference on Cat's Claw in Geneva, Switzerland. Cat's Claw received official recognition as a medicinal plant at this conference. It was pointed out that not since Quinine was discovered in the bark of a Peruvian tree in the seventeenth century had any other rainforest plant ever prompted such worldwide attention. There has been one unfortunate side effect of recent interest in Cat's Claw has been its virtual extinction in parts of the rain forest. According to the Herb Research Foundation, the government of Peru has had to outlaw the export of all wild Cat's Claw plants. Almost all Cat's Claw root and bark used for commercial preparations as of 2003 comes from cultivated plants.

    cats claw - uncaria tomentosa flowers


    The indigenous people of Peru use Catís Claw stems as a treatment for cancer, diabetes, ulcers, arthritis, infections, and as an aid in recovery from childbirth. It is also used as a contraceptive. Samento is the rare form of Cat's Claw; only it is different in that it is 1000 times stronger in strengthening the immune system.

    The indigenous peoples of South America have used cat's claw for centuries as a treatment for various disorders. In Brazilian traditional medicine it is used against dengue to reduce inflammation. In Europe and Peru, Catís Claw is used as a treatment for viral diseases such as herpes, shingles and feline leukemia virus. In the 1990's it was discovered to be a possible treatment for AIDS and HIV infection. At this time, studies are in progress for its use in treat allergies, stomach ulcers, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis. The watery extract of the young shoots is used to dilate peripheral blood vessels and lower blood pressure. It acts as a sedative as well. The Peruvian Indians use Catís Claw to treat cancer; however, there have been no studies to confirm its effectiveness. Samento has anti-tumor, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that are effective in the treating of immune system related conditions and intestinal disorders.

    Cat's Claw is often recommended in Lyme and Tick Co-Infection protocols as an antibacterial, antiviral, and immunomodulator for multi-systemic support, including:
    • Cognitive & Brain: The therapeutic properties are said to be able to cross the blood-brain barrier to assist with cognitive/brain symptoms.
    • Joints and Tendons: Helps improve joint symptoms.
    • Liver: Protects against liver toxicity.
    • GI system: Cat's Claw has been used traditionally for intestinal detox and bowel regularity.
    • Prostate health.

    Cat's Claw's anti-inflammatory actions have been effective in relieving the stiffness and swelling prevalent in arthritis, rheumatism, and joint pain. An Austrian study published in 2002 found that Cat's Claw significantly reduced joint tenderness and swelling in a sample of 40 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, with only minor side effects and no interactions with the patients' other arthritis medications. A recent study done in Peru indicates that the anti-inflammatory effects of Cat's Claw are stronger in extracts made with alcohol than in water-based solutions.

    According to the American Cancer Society, Cat's Claw is often promoted for its health benefits and has become a popular herbal supplement in the United States and Europe. However, they state that available scientific evidence also does not support Cat's Claw's effectiveness in preventing or treating cancer or any other disease. Cat's Claw is linked to some serious side effects, although the extent of those effects is not known. However, some studies on its effect on rheumatoid arthritis reported modest results, which need confirmation in standardized trials.

    cats claw thorn


    Cat's Claw and Samento come in a variety of forms and products. For best results, read and follow product label directions for use. If you are unsure about the dosage required for your particular ailment, consult with your health care practitioner about setting up a therapeutic regime designed specifically for you.

    Samento (Toa) Free Cat's Claw is the trade name for a variant form of the South American herb, Una de Gato. It is established that this variant form, which grows only in limited parts of Peru, is devoid of certain types of alkaloid (tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids), and that these alkaloids are normally antagonistic to the beneficial activity of una de gato. It is claimed that Samento is therefore considerably more effective than ordinary Una de Gato.

    Constituents: Pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids (pteropodine, isopteropodine, isomitraphylline, uncarine F), tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids (rhynchophylline, isorhynchophylline), quinovic acid glycosides, procyanidins, triterpenoid saponins.
    Parts Used: Inner bark.
    Typical Preparations: Usually used as a tincture. The tannins in the herb are released only if it is taken in an acidic medium; add a little lemon juice to a quarter-cup of water to which you add the tincture or prepare as a tea. For convenience it may be taken as a capsule.

    Cat's claw is taken by mouth and is available in capsules, tablets, tinctures, elixirs, and can be made into a tea. Sometimes it can be found as a cream for application to the skin. Practitioner recommendations for how much to take vary widely. Some suggest a dosage of 3,000 to 6,000 milligrams per day in pill form, or 4 strong cups of tea. Herbalists may prescribe up to 20 grams per day for seriously ill patients. Note that different brands of cat's claw may contain very different amounts of active ingredients.

    One gram of root bark given 2 to 3 times daily is a typical dose, while 20 to 30 mg of a root bark extract has been recommended.

    Capsules: Take 1,000 mg twice daily.

    Liquid extract, put 1 to 15 drops in a glass and add 4 ounces of water, then wait one minute before drinking. Start with 1 drop twice per day and slowly increase to 15 drops twice per day, or as recommended by your practitioner. Take half an hour apart from any other supplement or food. For specific conditions, higher doses of Samento may be used - please contact us for further information.

    To prepare a tea, boil 1 to 2 teaspoons of the bark in 1 cup of water for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain the mixture before drinking. A suggested dose is one cup of tea three times daily, depending on condition.


    There have been no reports of serious adverse effects from taking Catís Claw. There are other plants which are known as Cat's Claw (or Una de Gato) in Mexico and Latin America; however, they are entirely different plants, belonging to neither the Uncaria genus, nor to the Rubiaceae family. Some of the Mexican Una de Gato varieties are known to have toxic properties. Be sure you know what you are using and use a reliable herbal resource for your medicinal plants.

    Precautions: Women should avoid use of this herb when trying to get pregnant. Information regarding safety and efficacy during pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

    It is possible that Cat's Claw may increase the risk of bleeding when used with anticoagulants (blood thinners) or antiplatelet drugs such as warfarin (Coumadin), heparin and clopidogrel (Plavix). Taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Motril, Advil), and naxopren (Naprosyn, Aleve, Anaprox) can increase the risk of bleeding when used with Cat's Claw. If you are taking prescription drugs, it is best to ask your health care provider or pharmacist for advice before taking Cat's Claw. Do not use this herb if you are pregnant or nursing. Safety in young children or those with severe liver or kidney disease is not known.

    Individuals allergic to plants in the Rubiaceae family and different species of Uncaria may be more likely to have allergic reactions to Cat's Claw. Reactions can include itching, rash and allergic inflammation of the kidneys. In one case study, kidney failure occurred in a patient with Lupus erythematosus. The patient's kidney failure improved after stopping the herbal remedy.

    Cat's Claw products should be avoided before and after surgery, as well as by those using immunosuppressant therapy and in children due to lack of safety data. Case reports are generally lacking; however, there is a reported interaction with protease inhibitors. Although reports of adverse effects are rare, GI complaints (nausea, diarrhea, stomach discomfort), renal effects, neuropathy, and an increased risk of bleeding with anticoagulant therapy are possible. Historical ethnomedicinal evidence and current use by consumers suggest low toxicity; however, toxicological studies are limited.


  • Cats Claw Herbal Products



    Cat's Claw is an exciting discovery from the Peruvian rainforest. Also called Una de Gato, Cat's Claw has been used for hundreds of years by the native Ashanica Indians. Cat's Claw Bark is a traditional tonic herb for well being, Cat's Claw was historically used by the indigenous people of South America to stimulate the immune system in a variety of serious ailments. Cat's Claw inner bark (Uncaria tomentosa) has been traditionally used in the Amazon Rainforest to promote digestion, enhance immune function and detoxify the body. Studies conducted since the 1970s at research clinics in Peru, Austria, Germany, England, Hungary and Italy validate the traditional usage of Cat's Claw and indicate that this herb may be beneficial in ameliorating a host of modern day afflictions which have no answers from the orthodox medical arena. It is known to help nutritionally support the body's defenses, circulatory and gastrointestinal systems through its antioxidant and build properties. It has a long history of indigenous use for arthritis and rheumatism as well as other types of inflammation associated with various stomach disorders and ulcers where it was clinically shown to be effective. Reduces inflammation in arthritis, protects the body from harmful substances, supports the body while undergoing cancer treatments, helps to boost the immune system.


    Mountain Rose Herbs: Cat's Claw Bark, Wild Harvested, Bulk Organic Herbs & Spices
    Mountain Rose Herbs: Cat's Claw Bark Powder, Wild Harvested, Bulk Organic Herbs & Spices
    Mountain Rose Herbs: Cat's Claw Bark Capsules, Wild Harvested, 430 mg, 100 Caps, Herbal Organic Capsules
    Mountain Rose Herbs: Cat's Claw Extract, Wildharvested, Single Herbal Extacts & Tinctures


    Starwest Botanicals: Cat's Claw Inner Bark Powder, Organic, 4 oz.
    Starwest Botanicals: Cat's Claw Inner Bark Powder, Organic, 1 lb.
    Starwest Botanicals: Cat's Claw Inner Bark Powder, Wildcrafted, 1 lb.
    Starwest Botanicals: Cat's Claw Bark Herbal Capsules, Wildcrafted, 460 mg, 100 VCaps
    Starwest Botanicals: Cat's Claw Bark Herbal Capsules, Wildcrafted, 460 mg, 500 VCaps
    Starwest Botanicals: Cat's Claw Bark Extract, 1 fl. oz.
    Starwest Botanicals: Cat's Claw Bark Extract, 4 fl. oz.


    HerbsPro: Pycnogenol Cats Claw Shark Cartilage Miracle III, Only Natural, 30 Caps (112345)
    HerbsPro: Cats Claw Inner Bark Extract, Standardized, Natures Answer, 250 mg, 60 VCaps (35200)
    HerbsPro: Cats Claw Inner Bark, Natures Answer, 450 mg, 90 Caps (35199)
    HerbsPro: Cats Claw, Now Foods, 500 mg, 100 Caps (67915)
    HerbsPro: Cats Claw, Now Foods, 500 mg, 250 Caps (67916)
    HerbsPro: Cats Claw Extract, Source Naturals, 1 fl. oz. (579)
    HerbsPro: Cats Claw Bark, Gaia Herbs, 1 fl. oz. (91025)
    HerbsPro: Cats Claw Extract, Source Naturals, 2 fl. oz. (577)
    HerbsPro: Gravio-Cat (Graviola & Cats Claw), Amazon Therapeutic Labs, Certified Organic, 2 fl. oz. (71489)
    HerbsPro: Cats Claw Extract, Source Naturals, 4 fl. oz. (563)
    HerbsPro: Cats Claw Bark, Gaia Herbs, 4 fl. oz. (91027)


    Kalyx: Cats Claw Bark, Natures Way, 485 mg, 100 Capsules: HF
    Kalyx: Cat's Claw Extract, Una De Gato, Organic, Promotes Healthy Immune System, Natures Answer, 2 fl oz: HF

  • Nutrition Basics: Cats Claw Herbal Information

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