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Cat's Claw

Botanical name:†Uncaria tomentosa

Parts Used & Where Grown†
Catís claw grows in the rain forests of the Andes Mountains in South America, particularly in Peru. The two species of the plant used most commonly are U. tomentosa, which makes up most of the catís claw imported to the U.S., and U. guianensis, which is more widely used in Europe. In South America, both species are used interchangeably. The root bark is used as medicine.

ē Osteoarthritis
100 mg of a freeze-dried preparation daily
Catís claw has been used traditionally for osteoarthritis. In one trial, cat's claw was significantly more effective than a placebo at relieving pain and improving overall condition.

ē HIV and AIDS
Refer to label instructions for dosage
Catís claw is an immuno-modulating herb. Standardized extracts of it have been shown to help prevent CD4 cell counts from dropping and to prevent opportunistic infections.

ē Immune Function
Refer to label instructions for dosage
Substances found in catís claw, called oxyindole alkaloids, have been shown to stimulate the immune system.

ē Rheumatoid Arthritis
Refer to label instructions for dosage
Catís claw has been used traditionally to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)†
Catís claw has been reportedly used by indigenous peoples in the Andes to treat inflammation, rheumatism, gastric ulcers, tumors, dysentery, and as birth control. Catís claw is popular in South American folk medicine for treating intestinal complaints, gastric ulcers, and arthritis, and to promote wound healing.

How It Works
According to test tube studies, oxyindole alkaloids in catís claw stimulate immune function. Alkaloids and glycosides in catís claw have also demonstrated anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity.

Although clinical trials are lacking, catís 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 catís claw root bark for one month showed a sharp decrease in one urinary cancer marker. 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.

Catís 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.

How to Use It†
In a study of patients with osteoarthritis, 100 mg per day of a freeze-dried preparation was used. Catís 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, 1/4Ė1/2 teaspoon (1Ė2 ml) of tincture can be taken up to two times per day, or 20Ė60 mg of a dry standardized extract can be taken once per day.

Side Effects
Although no serious adverse effects have been reported for catís claw, there is little known about its safety because most reports have been based on anecdotal evidence. Catís claw should be used with caution in people with autoimmune illness, multiple sclerosis, and tuberculosis. Until proven safe, catís claw should not be taken by pregnant or breast-feeding women.

At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug or nutrient interactions with this supplement.

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