A vine that is also known as Uña de Gato or vilcacora, Cat’s Claw is used as a traditional cure for a wide array of health concerns in Peru, specifically for arthritis, digestive problems, and asthma. It is also used to manage cancer and for the treatment of wounds. Through word of mouth, the benefits of the herb have reached the United States and other western countries where it is now among the best-selling medicinal plants.
Studies have been done by scientists in many countries including Austria, Germany, England, and Peru since the 1970’s. These studies are done to learn more about the potent healing qualities of the Uncaria tomentosa or Uncaria guianensisherb that is the first Amazon rainforest plant to attract worldwide attention and curiosity since the discovery of quinine in the 17th century.
Uses and Benefits of Cat’s Claw
When we talk about this holistic herb, we’re really talking about the bark of a woody vine of the plant growing throughout the Peru and Brazil Amazon region. It grows profusely and may be the most popular herbal supplement used in the region. It’s safe to say that it’s a high value plant because literally all of the local tribes have been using it for generations. It’s widely used for joint pain, seasonal allergies like hay fever, immune system function enhancement and cancer because of its tumor-inhibiting properties, especially of the ovarian, uterine and breast cancers.
Supports the Immune System
Many studies are specifically focused on the various oxindole alkaloids that can be found in the roots and bark of the herb, which are said to hold the secrets to the herb’s medicinal properties. For one, the alkaloids can stimulate the immune system.
Isomer A said to be the most active alkaloid, can increase the body’s immune response and serve as an antioxidant that drives away free radicals. Compounds in the herb help fight bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that trigger various types of immune system disorders.
Fights Cancer Cells
Extracts from the herb help curb the proliferation of MCF7, a cell line responsible for breast cancer. This finding led to the use of the herb as an adjunctive treatment for AIDS, other types of cancer and immune system diseases. The presence of beta sitosterol and proanthocyanidins likewise protects the body by providing anti-inflammatory and anti-viral support.
These alkaloids also help enhance memory and are considered powerful deterrents against TNF-alpha production. In addition, results of a study done on human volunteers revealed that those who took the herb for eight weeks exhibited marked improvement in DNA repair.
Another recent study found that use of Cat’s Claw improves the quality of life for patients with solid tumors.
Help in Eradicating Inflammatory Diseases
Because of its antioxidant an anti-inflammatory qualities, the herb helps relieve gout, asthma and other similar disorders. This is mainly because of the alkaloids and flavanols’ immunomodulation capability that suppresses TNF-alpha synthesis.
Help in the Treatment of Intestinal Problems
The herb provides support for the body’s immune and intestinal systems and helps in cleansing the whole intestinal tract. This cleansing process primarily benefits people who are suffering from various bowel and stomach disorders such as Crohn’s disease, colitis, leaky bowel syndrome, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Other Healing Qualities
Combining Cat’s Claw with other types of herbs that have similar healing qualities like Echinacea may:
- Help treat arthritis, rheumatism, and other inflammatory disorders
- Benefits for the skin
- Lowers blood pressure quickly
- Promote faster healing of wounds
- Inhibit the formation of cancerous cells
- Help treat gastric ulcers and other intestinal problems
- Help get rid of chronic pain
- Help control intestinal inflammation, diverticulitis, colitis, leaky bowel syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis, ulcer, and intestinal inflammation
- Help combat fungal and viral infections like Candida and herpes.
- Possible weight loss activity
The herb’s leaves and bark can be eaten raw but most consume an extract powder supplement or make an herbal tea or tincture. Follow dosage recommendations on the product packaging. The herbal bark shouldn’t be used as a daily tonic supplement like ginseng or Rhodiola Rosea but instead use it as a medicine for specific health conditions.
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