The medicinal power of cat’s claw

Catslaw is called Samento in some Dutch shops, comes from the Amzone region and has spread to other parts of South America. The plant has been known by local residents for at least two thousand years; the Indians. Many of the medicinal properties they discovered have been scientifically confirmed. Science has explored even more medicinal effects. There are indications that it may be an effective drug against cancer. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.


  • Cat’s claw naming
  • Pre-European history cat’s claw
  • Cat’s claw, promising against cancer
  • Threatened with extinction
  • Active ingredients cat’s claw
  • Cat’s claw against bacterial, fungal, viral and parasitic diseases
  • Cat’s claw, the anti-inflammatory
  • Cat’s claw improves blood circulation
  • Cat’s claw is a strong antioxidant
  • Cat’s claw as an adaptogen
  • Cat’s claw and detoxification
  • Cat’s claw regulates hormone balance
  • Consult a herbal therapist


Cat’s claw naming

The Latin botanical name for cat’s claw is Uncaria Tomentosa . ‘Uncaria’ is a derived form of ‘uncinatus’ and that means ‘crocheted at the end’. This description refers to the claw-like curved thorns that are on the branch. ‘Tomentosa’ means ‘woolly hairy’, which is a reference to the hairy underside of the leaves. The cat’s claw is a creeping plant or liana and attaches itself to trees with its cat-like thorn claws. In Dutch it is the plant next to cat’s claw, Samento, cat’s claw or cat’s claw. In English, French and German the plant has similar names, respectively: Cat’s claw, Griffe du chat and Katzenkralle.

Pre-European history cat’s claw

Various Indian tribes of South America use the cat’s claw; the Aguaruna, Ashaninko, Cashibo, Cinabo, Shapibo and Yenesha are all Indian peoples who use it. Peruvian medicine men prefer to use the bark for urinary infections, weakened immune systems, deep wounds, asthma, inflammation of the stomach and intestines, joint complaints and even tumors. The medicine men make a distinction between bat nail or Uncaria Guianensis which is used in Suriname. Both of these lianas look alike and contain many of the same substances, but cat’s claw has stronger properties. In Peru, the main indications for which cat’s claw was used were: abscesses, ulcers, urinary infections, skin disorders, asthma, gastritis, arthritis, irregular menstrual cycle, blood anomalies, bone disorders, diabetes mellitus and hemorrhoids. It was even used in very high doses as a contraceptive. The average preparation consisted of prolonged boiling: when 1/5 of the original amount of water had evaporated, the remedy, the tea, was ready for medicinal use.

Cat’s claw, promising against cancer

In 1952, the plant was first examined in the west, namely in Paris. In 1976, the pharmacology department of St. Marcos University in Rome conducted a study on alkaloids in cat’s claw. This was in response to a terminal cancer patient who was declared cured and cancer-free after drinking cat’s claw tea daily after 6 months. In 2006, a scientific study was published showing that cat’s claw triggers the death of leukemia cells. Leukemia is blood cancer. More research will have to be conducted to properly determine this effect.

Threatened with extinction

All positive stories about cat’s claw had a negative side: cat’s claw began to disappear from the forests of Peru in large numbers. The plant began to be threatened with extinction. The Peruvian government took measures and stated that harvesting and exports may only take place under the watchful eye of the government.

Active ingredients cat’s claw

The bark of an 8-year-old liana is used for cat’s claw, which is stripped one meter above the ground. After three years the plant has recovered. The outer bark is removed from the inner bark; only the inner bark is used for medicinal purposes. The bat nail liana from Suriname may be used instead of cat’s claw, but it must have the correct POA/TOA ratio. The main ingredients are: Pentacyclic Oxindole Alkaloids (POA): pteropodine, isopteropodine, alloisopteropodine, allopteropodine, speciophylline, mitraphylline, isomytraphylline, uncarine F, 3-isoajmaline, 19-epi-3-isojmaline and uncarine B. Tetracyclic Oxindole Alkaloids (TOA) : rhynchophylline and isorhynchofylline. Guinovinic acid glycosides (QAG), polyphenols, triterpene saponins, the phytosterols betasitosterol, stigmasterol and campesterol, oleanolic acid and ursolic acid. In smaller quantities it contains: pentacyclic indole alkaloids, tetracyclic indole alkaloids, the tannins ellagic acid and gallic acid.

Cat’s claw against bacterial, fungal, viral and parasitic diseases

Cat’s claw is one of the medicinal plants with the most multi-purpose effects. The immune system dramatically increases in effectiveness when used with cat’s claw. In addition to fighting bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites, it is active against worms. The T cells or T lymphocytes increase in number when using cat’s claw. These cells efficiently eliminate disease-causing invaders. The number of white blood cells, which actually determines the immune system, increases in effectiveness. If it is taken quickly enough after being infected with the flu, an attack of flu may not occur. Due to these medicinal properties, cat’s claw can be prescribed by herbalists for:

  • Throat, nose and ear infections such as sinusitis,
  • Bronchitis,
  • Grippal disorders,
  • Genital herpes, shingles,
  • Eppstein-Barr, viral infections such as mononucleosis and glandular fever,
  • Chronic bladder infection, urinary tract infection, prostate inflammation,
  • gonorrhea,
  • Intestinal parasites, dysentery, diarrhea,
  • Ulcers, abscesses, acne,
  • Wounds and wound infections,
  • Candida infections, vaginitis, thrush,
  • General reduced resistance after antibiotic treatment
  • Adjuvant therapy ME and CFS (fatigue syndromes),
  • Seropositivity, AIDS.


Cat’s claw, the anti-inflammatory

Because immunity improves, the body can control inflammation after cat’s claw intake. The plant has an anti-inflammatory effect, protects the stomach epithelium against ulcers, cleanses the intestinal tract and improves intestinal flora. These medicinal properties make it an excellent remedy for:

  • Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Fibromyalgia, Bursitis, Bone pain,
  • Allergies, hay fever, allergic asthma,
  • Stomach ulcer, peptic ulcer, duodenal ulcer,
  • Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis,
  • Irritable bowel syndrome,
  • Hemorrhoids, fistulas,
  • Injuries, bruises,
  • Nerve pains,
  • Adjuvant therapy for autoimmune diseases and connective tissue diseases, including lupus erythematus, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and diabetes.


Cat’s claw improves blood circulation

Cat’s claw works as a natural blood thinner and reduces the adhesion of platelets. It increases blood flow to arteries and peripheral blood vessels. An additional effect as a result is that organs such as heart, pancreas, liver, kidneys and lungs work better. These medicinal activities make cat’s claw an adequate remedy for:

  • Preventing arteriosclerosis and thrombosis, which also prevents heart attacks and strokes,
  • High bloodpressure,
  • Reduced organ function due to, for example, cirrhosis or liver enlargement.


Cat’s claw is a strong antioxidant

Cat’s claw catches free radicals. It rejuvenates cells and reduces the deposition of beta amyloid plaques, which occur, for example, in Alzheimer’s disease. The polyphenols, TOAs and POAs and sterols are responsible for these effects. In a Swedish study from 2001, Catslaw proved that it could repair DNA that had been damaged after chemotherapy. Due to this medicinal power, it can be used by herbal therapists as a medicine for:

  • Premature signs of old age,
  • Premature gray hair,
  • Side effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy such as hair loss, loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, secondary infections and skin problems.
  • Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.


Cat’s claw as an adaptogen

Cat’s claw is an adaptogen. This is a medical term for substances that enhance the body’s ability to adapt to adverse conditions of a chemical, physical or meteorological nature. The body has more resistance to changes in the form of heat, cold, noise pollution, changing air pressure, oxygen deficiency, ultraviolet radiation, ionizing radiation, and other factors that can have a negative effect on the human body.

Cat’s claw and detoxification

Cat’s claw has a detoxifying and blood purifying effect. It also has a diuretic effect. Because intestinal flora is restored and bacteria and parasites are combated, it has a cleansing effect on the entire digestive system. This means it can be used for:

  • Poisoning with toxins in the immediately surrounding environment,
  • blood purification cures,
  • Reduced kidney function,
  • Disrupted intestinal flora after antibiotic treatment,
  • Polluted intestines,
  • Preventing diseases during weak period,
  • Asthenia or weakness.


Cat’s claw regulates hormone balance

As the Indians of South America knew two centuries ago, cat’s claw is very good for regulating hormone balance. This is especially true for women. The phytosterols play the most important role in this medicinal effect. It is prescribed for:

  • Irregularities of the menstrual cycle,
  • Abnormal appearance of uterine lining,
  • Menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood swings,
  • Recovery after childbirth.


Consult a herbal therapist

Anyone who wants to use cat’s claw as a medicinal remedy is recommended to consult a herbal therapist. Cat’s claw extracts and medicines in the form of mother tinctures, powders, nebulisate, liquid extract, ointment, cream and capsules should only be used on the prescription of authorized persons. A herbal therapist can tell you more about this, as well as about any side effects and interactions with other medicines or herbs. There are also beneficial combinations with herbs. All medicinal effects of this medicinal herb mentioned in this article are based on scientific research and come from Geert Verhelst’s Large Handbook of Medicinal Plants, a standard work in the field of healing plants. The book is used in phytotherapy.

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