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Cat’s Claw

Compilation by Armando Gonzalez Stuart, PhD

Scientific Name:

Uncaria spp.

Other Common Name:

Uña de gato, Bejuco de agua, Garabato. Note: Cat’s claw is the common name that in the commercial herbal market usually refers to 2 related plants, U. tomentosa (Willd.) DC and U. guianenesis (Aubl.) Gmel. Although these 2 species are very similar in ap

Parts of the plant used:

The bark and root from plants that are at least 6 years old. Younger plants reportedly possess much less medicinal value, if any at all.

How is it used?

The plants available in the Western market are usually sold as extracts or capsules. In some cases, cat’s claw may be combined with other herbs that purportedly stimulate the immune system.

What is it used for?

Cat’s claw (U. tomentosa) is employed as a contraceptive by some indigenous tribes in South America, as well as for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Because of its anti inflammatory action, it may have value in the treatment of gastritis and rheumatoid arthritis, but conclusive data is not available at this time. In recent years, various preparations based on this plant have been touted as possible options for cancer prevention and treatment, but few clinical trials have been done in humans. Both species of cat’s claw have anti microbial properties, especially against some types of viruses, including HIV. Other potential uses include: as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immune stimulant and as a treatment to reduce the negative side effects of chemotherapy.


Safety / Precautions


  • Avoid these herbs during pregnancy and lactation. •Avoid use in children.
  • Cat’s claw preparations may cause tissue rejection in patients undergoing organ or tissue transplants.
  • Use only under medical supervision in patients with auto-immune disorders, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, for example.
  • Possible interactions between this herb and conventional AIDS therapy are presently unknown.

Before you decide to take any medicinal herb or herbal supplement, be sure to consult with your health care professional first. Avoid self-diagnosis and self-medication: Always be on the safe side!