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Herbs & Supplements «Cats Claw Herb Benefits and Side Effects»

Cat's claw, also known as the Healing Vine of Peru and Uña de Gato, has become very popular because of the many therapeutic benefits is offers for relieving arthritis, allergies, menstrual irregularities, ulcers, and a variety of gastrointestinal disorders.

While cat's claw is not the most well know medicinal herb, it is considered a valuable medicinal resource and is a highly protected plant in Peru, where it grows naturally. Presently, very little scientific research has been dedicated to testing the merits of cat's claw, but many cultures native to the South American rain forest areas have used this herb for hundreds of years.

However, some recent studies report that cat's claw may in deed have favorable effects primarily in its ability to boost the body's immune system. With growing concern about the spread of HIV, studies on cat's claw have increased during recent years.

The active chemical compounds found in cat's claw are alkaloids, tannins, and several other phytochemicals. The alkaloids in cat's claw give it the ability boost the immune system. The major alkaloid rhynchophylline also exhibits anti-hypertensive properties and may help to reduce the occurrence of stroke and heart attack by lowering blood pressure, increasing circulation, reducing heart rate, and controlling cholesterol levels.

Many treatments and herbal supplements combine cat's claw with different plants and natural products to increase the absorption and bioavailability whereby increasing its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer effects.

For quite some time, cat's claw has been used medicinally as a treatment for gastrointestinal ailments. Additional homeopathic uses of cat's claw include treatments for Crohn's disease, gastric ulcers and tumors, parasites, colitis, gastritis, diverticulitis, and leaky bowel syndrome. Through its ability to stimulate the immune system, this herb may also improve the body's response to viral and respiratory infections.

Cat's claw is considered by many, largely because of its immune-building properties, to be every bit as important as more popular herbs such as Echinacea, goldenseal, Pau D'Arco, garlic, and Siberian ginseng.

Supplement Forms and Dosage

Cat's claw is available as a supplement in many different forms. These include: dried cut-and-sifted root and stem, powdered root and stem, capsules, tinctures, tablets, and extracts standardized for total alkaloid content. For proper dosage, follow manufacturer's recommendation found on the package.

Possible Side Effects

Like other immune stimulants, cat's-claw should be avoided in diseases of the immune system itself, such as tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis, and HIV infection. Cat's claw is not believed to be safe for children, pregnant, or nursing women. Consult a physician before using cat's-claw.

Supporting Literature

Aquino R, De Feo V, De Simone F, et al. Plant metabolites, new compounds and anti-inflammatory activity of Uncaria tomentosa. J Nat Prod 1991;54:453-459.

Blumenthal M, Riggins C. Popular Herbs in the U.S. Market: Therapeutic Monographs. Austin, Tex: The American Botanical Council; 1997.

Keplinger H. Oxyindole alkaloids having properties stimulating the immunologic system and preparation containing same. US Patent no. 5,302,611, April 12, 1994.

Karch SB. The Consumer's Guide to Herbal Medicine. Hauppauge, New York: Advanced Research Press; 1999:55-56.

Keplinger K, Laus G, Wurm M, Dierich MP, Teppner H. Uncaria tomentosa (Willd.) DC-ethnomedicinal use and new pharmacological, toxicological and botanical results. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999;64:23-34.

Rizzi R, Re F, Bianchi A, et al. Mutagenic and antimutagenic activities of Uncaria tomentosa and its extracts. J Ethnopharmacol 1993;38:63-77.

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