Amazing Attributes of the Peruvian Herb Cat’s Claw
Unlike turmeric’s curcumin, Cat’s Claw is an herb that has received very favorable but limited press and not nearly as much testing and formal scientific study. Word of mouth and internet testimonials have piqued interest and boosted sales.
But too few know enough about this miraculous yet inexpensive Peruvian mountain rain forest herb. Consider this article as a primer or introduction to Cat’s Claw and its healing capabilities that may motivate you to research it more.
Cat’s claw is English for the Spanish phrase una de gato, supposedly named by Peruvians for the hooked thorns resembling cat claws on its twigs. Technically it’s known as uncaria tomentosa, and it has been used by Peruvian medicine men for centuries. Now Cat’s Claw can be taken in capsule, tea, or tincture forms.
It is an adaptogenic immune regulator, providing both immune boosting and dampening as necessary. Too much of an immune response does cause problems. For example, vaccinations often cause cytotoxic storms, an overreaction from the immune system that results in seizures or paralysis. Most allergies are essentially milder hyper immune system responses.
The converse is obvious. If the immune system is weak, disease can invade undeterred. So Cat’s Claw can adapt to either situation as needed. It is also anti-inflammatory thus helpful for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and others, anti-microbial (viral and bacterial), anti-oxidant, and anti-fungal. Cat’s Claw has even shrunk cysts and tumors and it inhibits cancer metastasis.
Many herbalists and naturalists consider Cat’s Claw’s benefits exceed all other known immune enhancing or modulating herbs, including Reishi, Echinacea, Siberian ginseng, and Astragalus.
Cat’s Claw’s bark and roots provide most of its immune regulating qualities via oxindole alkaloids.
Cat’s Claw’s Little Controversy
These alkaloids enhance white blood cells’ ability to engulf pathogens and destroy them. However, there are two forms of these alkaloids. Many consider pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids or POAs to be the more beneficial form. It’s claimed that these POAs are hampered by the other type of alkaloids known as tetracyclic oxindole alkaloidsor TOAs.
The hybrid TOA free version of Cat’s Claw contains more quinovic acid glycosides. Quinovic acid glycoside compounds are used to manufacture antibiotics. They are safer and less problematic in their natural forms, yet powerful enough to provide safe and significant direct antimicrobial effects.
However, TOA free Cat’s Claw is pricier. And there is a strong argument that basic whole Cat’s Claw’s natural balance has been healing for ages. The argument goes further by stating there is no proof of TOA free Cat’s Claw’s superiority. And practically all of the international research proving Cat’s Claw’s efficacy was done with the original plant source containing both types of alkaloids.
Nevertheless, many herbalists and naturopathic practitioners tend to use or recommend TOA free Cat’s Claw for the extreme issues of Lyme and Crohn’s Disease.
Using Cat’s Claw
Originally, Cat’s Claw was used to effectively handle digestive problems such as gastric or duodenal ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, and leaky bowel syndrome. Cat’s Claw has demonstrated a capacity for flushing out pathogens and irritants from the gastrointestinal tract.
Its anti-inflammatory properties have been useful for relieving the pains from rheumatism or arthritis. Cat’s Claw is also useful for various fungal problems, including Candida. Cat’s Claw’s anti-viral qualities have been used for treating Herpes as well. Using Cat’s Claw can benefit almost any autoimmune or inflammatory issue.
CAVEAT: Make sure your Cat’s Claw plant source is uncaria tomentosa and not uncaria guianensis. The latter from lower altitudes is easier to find and harvest. But high mountain uncaria tomentosa is the better source. Pregnant women are advised against using Cat’s Claw. It can cause a miscarriage. There are contraindications with blood thinning drugs or drugs that are meant to suppress the immune system.