Cats Claw Benefits & Information

Latin Name

Uncaria tomentosa

Also Known As

Griffe du Chat, Liane du Pérou, Life-giving Vine of Peru, Samento, Uña de Gato, Uncaria guianensis, Uncaria tomentosa.

Origin

Mostly Peru; Pan Amazon Basin in general.

Parts Used

Bark, roots and Leaf.

Traditional Use and Health Benefits

Because the reputation of Cats Claw has spread far and wide there are a great many different medicinal qualities attributed to it. Numerous different Amazonian tribes use this plant for a number of varied complaints. This is why the Cats Claw vine has generated a reputation as a panacea over a period of around 2,000 years. Listed below are some of the traditional benefits the bark of the Cat’s Claw has been given by the tribes of native Amazonian Indians.

The Asháninka Indians use the Cats Claw bark for these illnesses and bodily complaints: a kidney cleanser, to cure deep wounds, help alleviate arthritis, asthma, inflammations of the urinary tract, rheumatism, inflammation in general, gastric ulcers and recovery from child birth.

In Colombia some Indian tribes use the Cats Claw as a remedy for gonorrhoea and dysentery.

Where as in Surinam the Cats Claw is used to stop intestinal infections, dysentery and for the treatment of wounds.

Interestingly there are also a number of tribes who use the Cats Claw as a female contraceptive. A very strong Cats Claw root concoction is prepared to be taken during the menstrual cycle for three consecutive months. This treatment is apparently used to halt the menstrual cycle for three to four years.

In general, all of the Amazonian tribes mentioned above, consider the Cats Claw to be a tonic that can be used to bring anyone back to health. Even if suffering from acute illnesses the Cats Claw is thought to be able to rebalance the immune system so that it can better fight any sickness.

 

HEALTH BENEFITS:

There have been several studies completed that have looked into the alkaloid content of Cats Claw bark to see how it interacts with the body. Extensive research is ongoing since this particular plant holds so many varying phytochemicals that have possible interactions with human physiology.

The studies that have been completed show that for joint pain, specific arthritis of the knees/legs and rheumatoid arthritis, Cats Claw treatment might help individuals cope with pain and also enabling more fluid movement. There is also some evidence that Cats Claw could have antiviral properties, helps bolster the immune system and also helps with bowel and colon complaints.

Typical Use

The bark of the Uncaria tomentosa is considered to be the most medicinally useful. Both Leaves and roots have been proven to hold significant phytochemical content but not in such concentration as is found in the bark.

Traditionally the bark of Cats Claw is made into a tea or powder to be consumed over a given period depending on illness.

Folklore and History

For the Asháninka Indians Uncaria tomentosa is the totality of their culture. It is depended on so much that traditionally every adult from this tribe carries around Cats Claw bark in a little woven pouch. It is not just the plant they harbour as sacred but what the plant has done for their ancestors. The Asháninka are one Amazonian tribe that live very deep in the jungle, far from habitation and other tribes. It is thought that the Asháninka were the tribe that taught all other Amazonian Indians in the area about the qualities of this amazing plant. Noted by the Polish missionary Father Edmund Szeliga, the Uncaria tomentosa vine was very holy to the Incan people as it is now today to the Asháninka. The latter consider the plant a god incarnate called ‘kug – kukjagui’ and the father of all other forest gods. The high reverence paid to the Cats Claw vine by the Asháninka shows its potent quality as all other medicinal plants are given a lower status. Even for the Incan royal families the Cats Claw was considered only fit for those of royal blood. Not only are the roots, bark and leaf made into concoctions but the bendy vine is also used to make a variety of baskets and rattan furniture. The lower parts of the thick base of the vine are whittled into carvings of other gods showing that the Asháninka regard even the wood as having sacred qualities.

The legend concerning Cats Claw that comes from the Asháninka tells of how Tasurinchi, the first of their people, came to know of the healing qualities of the vine. In the tale Tasurinchi lives in seclusion since there were no other people to help him. He does all the hunting, domestic chores as well as make his home secure which makes his life heavy and unbearable. One day Tasurinchi is rushing through the jungle and meets one by one a puma, a capybara and a tapir. To each he complains of having an ailment; a stomach ache, headache and a deeply cut hand respectively. Each of the animals tells him to use the kug – kukjagui in a different manner to heal his body. Tasurinchi’s life is suddenly transformed from the medicinal Cats Claw properties the animals had shown him. From this moment on the knowledge of the Cats Claw was given to the Asháninka Indians to use for a great many things in their lives. Even today the Cats Claw is of major economic importance to the Asháninka Indians.

Cats Claw
Constituents

Cats Claw has many phytochemical elements that consist of oxidole alkaloids, quinovic acid glycosides, antioxidant chemicals, plant sterols and carboxyl alkyl esters. All of these are thought to have, in varying degrees, an action that can be attributed to the many benefits that Cats Claw is attributed with. Listed below are the known chemical elements of Cats Claw.

Ajmalicine, akuammigine, campesterol, catechin, carboxyl alkyl esters, chlorogenic acid, cinchonain, corynantheine, corynoxeine, daucosterol, epicatechin, harman, hirsuteine, hirsutine, iso-pteropodine, loganic acid, lyaloside, mitraphylline, oleanolic acid, palmitoleic acid, procyanidins, pteropodine, quinovic acid glycosides, rhynchophylline, rutin, sitosterols, speciophylline, stigmasterol, strictosidines, uncarine A thru F, and vaccenic acid.