Cat's Claw is a tropical vine that grows in rainforest and jungle areas in South America and Asia. Some cultures refer to the plant as the "Sacred Herb of the Rain Forest". This vine gets its name from the small thorns at the base of the leaves, which looks like a cat's claw. These claws enable the vine to attach itself around trees climbing to a heights up to 100 feet.
The plant is considered a valuable medicinal resource and is protected in Peru. Although scientific research has just recently begun to explore cat's claw, many cultures native to the South American rain forest areas have used this herb for hundreds of years.
Current studies show it may have positive effects on, and can boost the body's immune system. With recent fear of HIV, studies on cat's claw have started to move quickly.
The active substances in Cat's Claw are alkaloids, tannins and several other phytochemicals. Some of the alkaloids have been proven to boost the immune system. The major alkaloid rhynchophylline has anti-hypertensive effects and may reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack by lowering blood pressure, increasing circulation, reducing heart rate and controlling cholesterol.
Other constituents contribute anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticancer properties. Many treatments combine the herb with different plants and natural products to increase the absorption and bioavailability.
Cat's Claw has long been used as a homeopathic treatment for intestinal ailments. Uses include: Crohn's disease, gastric ulcers and tumors, parasites, colitis, gastritis, diverticulitis and leaky bowel syndrome. By stimulating the immune system, it can also improve response to viral and respiratory infections.
European clinical studies have used the extract from the bark in combination with AZT in the treatment of AIDS. It is also used in the treatment and prevention of arthritis and rheumatism, as well as diabetes, PMS, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, and prostrate conditions.
Part Used: Inner bark and root. Capsules, tea and extract.
Common Use: Extracts are used in treatments for a variety of conditions, mostly gastrointestinal. Immuno-stimulant properties help the body fight off infections and protect against degenerative diseases.