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Cats Claw – (Uncaria guianensis)

Cats Claw

Cats claw is a vine that is native to the Amazon rainforest that can grow to a length of 100 feet. The common name comes from the hooked thorns that grow along its length. It has been used medicinally since the times of the Inca civilization. This plant enjoys protected status in Peru, where most of the cat'sclaw that is used commercially is grown.


Key Medicinal Uses

Internally – Cats claw has been used to treat osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and to stimulate the immune system. It may also relax the smooth muscles in the body like the intestines, dilate the blood vessels, lowering the blood pressure and it is also used as a diuretic. Studies are currently underway to see if this herb can be used to treat Crohn's disease, HIV, multiple sclerosis, lupus and Alzheimer's disease. It has also been used for PMS, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome and prostate ailments.

Externally – Cat's claw can be applied to the skin to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions.

Other Uses – Cat's claw has been used homeopathically for Crohn's disease, gastric ulcers, tumors, parasites, colitis, diverticulitis and leaky bowel syndrome.

Parts Used

Root, bark – The root and inner bark is used medicinally.


There are few side effects if taken at the recommended dosage. Rare side effects include headache, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and dizziness. If a woman is pregnant or trying to become pregnant, they should avoid the herb because it has qualities that prevent and abort pregnancy. If you have an autoimmune disease, skin grafts, an organ transplant or tuberculosis, do not use this herb due to its possible effects on the immune system.

Cat's claw may interact with immunosuppressive medications. It may protect the gastrointestinal tract against damage from NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen and naproxen. It may also interact with anticoagulants, diuretics, birth control pills and other medications that contain estrogens or progestins and blood pressure medications.

Preparation and Dosage

Cats claw is available commercially as extract, capsules and tea. To make herbal tea, steep 1 to 10 grams of root bark in 8 ounces of water and boil it for 10 to 15 minutes. Allow it to cool and strain out the used herb. Drink 1 cup of this tea three times per day. For a tincture, the usual dosage is ¼ to ½ teaspoon taken two or three times per day. For a dry extract in capsules, take 250 to 350 mg per day to support the immune system.

Cats Claw Herbal Remedies Top