Cat′s Claw

Also indexed as:Uncaria tomentosa
Cat′s Claw 
: Main Image© Steven Foster
Botanical names:
Uncaria tomentosa

How It Works

According to test tube studies, oxyindole alkaloids in cat’s claw stimulate immune function.2 Alkaloids and glycosides in cat’s claw have also demonstrated anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity.3, 4

Although clinical trials are lacking, cat’s claw has become very popular in North America and is sometimes recommended for people with cancer or HIV infection. A cigarette smoker who took a freeze-dried extract of cat’s claw root bark for one month showed a sharp decrease in one urinary cancer marker.5 This finding, however, does little to support the use of the herb in persons with cancer and points toward the need for actual clinical studies to determine its effectiveness.

Cat’s claw has been used traditionally for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Double-blind trials have confirmed the effectiveness of cat's claw for each of these conditions.67

How to Use It

In a study of patients with osteoarthritis, 100 mg per day of a freeze-dried preparation was used. Cat’s claw tea is prepared from 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) of root bark by adding 1 cup (250 ml) of water and boiling for ten to fifteen minutes. Cool, strain and drink one cup three times per day. Alternatively, 1/4–1/2 teaspoon (1–2 ml) of tincture can be taken up to two times per day, or 20–60 mg of a dry standardized extract can be taken once per day.8

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2018.