Written by:Eli Ben-Yehuda, December 16, 2018
What Is Cat’s Claw

Named after its hook-like horns, cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is a woody vine native to the Amazon rainforest and other places in South and Central America. The bark and root have been used by South Americans for centuries to treat health problems including arthritis, stomach ulcers, inflammation, dysentery, and fevers. It was also used as a form of birth control.

Test tube studies indicate that cat’s claw may stimulate the immune system, help relax the smooth muscles (such as the intestines), dilate blood vessels (helping lower blood pressure), and act as a diuretic (helping the body eliminate excess water).

The plant also has antioxidant properties, helping the body eliminate particles known as free radicals that damage cells. Scientists believe free radicals contribute to health problems, including heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants can help neutralize free radicals and may reduce, or even help prevent, some of the damage they cause.

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Some early studies suggest cat’s claw may kill tumor and cancer cells in test tubes.

Precautions

The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider.

Cat’s claw appears to have few side effects, however, there have not been enough scientific studies on cat’s claw to determine its safety. Some people have reported dizziness, nausea, and diarrhea when taking cat’s claw. Diarrhea or loose stools tend to be mild and go away with continued use of the herb.

Pregnant or nursing women should not take cat’s claw because it may cause miscarriage.

If you have had a transplant should not use cat’s claw unless specifically directed by their physician because of its possible effects on the immune system.

People with leukemia or low blood pressure should not take cat’s claw.

Those with kidney or liver disease should not use cat’s claw without first asking their doctor.

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