Cat's claw also known as Uncaria tomentosa is a woody vine that grows wild in the Amazon rainforest and other tropical areas of Central and South America. Its name Cat's Claw is because of its claw shaped thorns. This roots and bark from the herb has been used in herbal medicine for over 2,000 years. Ancient civilisations would use it to treat inflammation, dysentery, viral infections, ulcers and to stimulate the immune system.
1) Anti-inflammatory properties
Whenever you hear the word ITIS at the end of a disease, think inflammation. For example:
- Inflammation of the bronchi = bronchitis
- Inflammation of the joints = arthritis
Anti inflammatory foods and herbs can be used to help reduce the level of inflammation in the body and Cat's Claw has been noted as one of the best due to its nature to act fast. In 2002 the Journal of Rheumatology published a randomised double-blind study of cat's caw in treating rheumatoid arthritis. The study found that the supplement reduced joint swelling and pain by more that 50% compared to the placebo.
In another study of 45 patients with osteoarthritis, one week of cat's claw reduced pain associated with activity compared to the placebo.
Catching a viral infection such as the flu weakens the body's strength and increases the level of inflammation in the body. Due to Cat's claw having anti-inflammatory properties it has been known to also boost the immune system.
2) Boosting the immune system
Two studies have showed that Cat's claw significantly elevated the infection fighting white blood cell count in adult men who supplemented with this herb for 6 months. The immune system benefits of this herb can help those with either a weak or an overactive immune system - hyper immune responses can be contained whilst weaker immune systems are strengthened.
Cat's claw can cleanse the digestive tract and may help treat inflammatory gut disorders. It's said to be helpful in detoxifying the intestinal tract whilst replenishing the friendly bacteria in the intestines. It has been used to treat a wide range of digestive disorders including:
- Crohn's disease
- Stomach ulcers
- Leaky gut