Cat's Claw

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Information about Cat's Claw

Introduction Cat's claw is an herbal medicine derived from the bark of the Uncaria tomentosa vine which is used for its antiinflammatory and immune modulating effects in the treatment of fever, fatigue, muscle and joint aches and the symptoms of chronic inflammatory conditions.

Liver safety of Cat's Claw

Cat’s claw has not been implicated in causing liver injury.

Mechanism of action of Cat's Claw

Cat's claw is a large vine that grows in the Amazon River basin and has been used in South American traditional medicine for centuries, its name referring to the curved thorns found along its woody vines that resemble cats’ claws. Cat's claw includes two species, Uncaria tomentosa and Uncaria guinaensis, and the extract is usually made from their root bark most commonly from U. tomentosa.

Clinical use of Cat's Claw

Cat's claw is used as an analgesic and antiinflammatory agent to treat gastrointestinal, rheumatologic and other chronic inflammatory conditions. Constituents of cat’s claw extracts include oxindole alkaloids (isopteropodine, pteropodine, rhynchophylline, mytraphylline, speciophylline, uncarine F, uncarine E), indole alkaloidal glucosides (cadambine, 3-dihydrocadambine, and 3-isodihydrocadambine), quinovic acid glycosides, tannins, polyphenols, catechins and beta sitosterol. In vitro, extracts of cat’s claw have immune modulatory, antiviral and antimutagenic activities. The active ingredients of cat’s claw extracts are not completely well defined. Studies in cell culture have shown that the oxindole alkaloids decrease TNF alpha levels by inhibition of NF-kappa B signaling, a finding that has been claimed to be the biologic basis for its antiinflammatory activity. On the other hand, the polyphenols and catechins found in the bark also have antioxidant actions. In humans, the evidence for efficacy of cat’s claw extracts has been mixed. While small controlled trials have suggested a beneficial effect on pain in chronic rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, other studies have been inconclusive, the improvements in clinical symptoms being similar to those with placebo or comparator arms. Nevertheless, cat’s claw is widely used and claimed to have antiinflammatory and analgesic effects and is given often in combination with other nutritional supplements (such as glucosamine and chondroitin) or with conventional therapies.

Dosage and administration for Cat's Claw

The usual doses used vary by preparation, from 30 to 300 mg of extract once daily.

Side effects of Cat's Claw

Side effects of orally administered cat’s claw are minor and may include nausea, gastrointestinal upset and diarrhea.


Herbal and dietary supplements

Chinese and Other Asian Herbal Medicines

Multi-Ingredient Nutritional Supplements

See also Nutritional supplements
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