Cat's claw: benefits and contraindications

Cat's claw corresponds to a genus of plants among which the Uncaria guianensis and the Uncaria tomentosa. The latter is the one most used for medicinal purposes, since its properties have interesting effects on health. What is it for?

An article published in the magazine Phytomedicine states that these species concentrate around 60 active substances with medicinal value. Thus, its potential to prevent diseases such as diabetes, rheumatism and inflammation, among others, is currently being studied.

Of course, as with all medicinal plants, its use should not be taken lightly, especially in the presence of pathologies. Although in some cases it is beneficial, it is necessary to consider certain contraindications. Here we tell you more about it.

What is cat's claw and why is it so well known?

Under the name of "cat's claw" are known supplements that come from a woody vine that grows in the Amazon rainforest and other tropical regions. The Uncaria tomentosa It is the most widely used in commercial preparations of the plant, as its bark and roots contain substances that help promote well-being.

Specific, It reaches up to 30 meters in height and its branches contain large thorns and lanceolate leaves. This is precisely where its name derives, as the hooked spines resemble a cat's claw. And although the supplement is popular in the United States, its earliest uses date back 2,000 years to the indigenous peoples of South and Central America.

Since then it has become known as an adjunct to calm some ailments and health problems. Even today it is available in the form of liquid extract, powder, tea and capsules. Let's see then what are its main applications.

This medicinal plant is tropical and grows in South America and Central America.

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Main benefits of cat's claw

The long history of cat's claw as a medicinal plant caught the attention of research groups in various parts of the world. Because of this, at present there are scientific studies that support some of the properties attributed to it. In fact, it was determined that it has active substances such as the following:

  • Oxindolic acids.
  • Quinvovic acid.
  • Polyphenols.
  • Tannins
  • Yohimbine.
  • Beta-sitosterol.

This composition has been linked to health benefits, especially for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. And while it is not yet considered a first-line remedy for diseases, the findings are promising.

Helps boost the immune system

Cat's claw is said to have immunomodulatory properties, as stimulates the production of white blood cells involved in the fight against pathogens that cause infections. A clinical trial published in Phytomedicine corroborated this effect.

The research involved 27 men who consumed 700 milligrams of cat's claw extract for 2 months. After this time it was determined that the supplement is immunomodulatory, since it increases the proportions of lymphocytes. This was also observed in another small study published in Journal of Ethnopharmacology.

Supports bone health

In traditional medicine, cat's claw supplements They are used to improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis. In a magazine publication Inflammation Research, 45 people with knee osteoarthritis received a dose of 100 milligrams of cat's claw extract for 4 weeks.

After this it was determined that the patients experienced less pain during physical activity. Furthermore, there were no reports of adverse effects. Despite this, no changes were found in terms of pain at rest or swelling.

Another study found that a supplement of cat's claw and maca root managed to reduce the pain and stiffness caused by this bone disease. The participants even required less pain medication after several weeks. These effects are attributed to its anti-inflammatory properties; however, more research is needed.

Contributes to caring for joint health

The anti-inflammatory potential of cat's claw extracts is used in folk medicine to improve joint health in people with rheumatoid arthritis. In this regard, a study in The Journal of Rheumatology determined that 6o milligrams of this supplement combined with regular medication improved joint pain by 29%.

In any case, the evidence is weak and inconclusive. Thus, it should not be used unless the doctor agrees. Larger and more complete studies are required to corroborate its level of efficacy and safety.

Does cat's claw have other benefits?

Other benefits of this plant are described in popular literature, but there is no scientific evidence to support it. For example, it is said to help fight high blood pressure, gout, and digestive disorders. Many commercial campaigns have even claimed that it is used to treat cancer, allergies and AIDS.

It is important to be careful, as there is no evidence for these diseases. In fact, Due to its complexity, only the treatment suggested by the doctor should be followed. Any supplement, including cat's claw, can interfere with therapies.

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In what dose can cat's claw be ingested?

When taking any cat's claw supplement, it is convenient to be clear that there is no exact guideline for its dosage. Anyway, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that the average daily dose be as follows:

  • 20 to 350 milligrams of dried stem bark in extracts.
  • 300 to 500 milligrams of capsules, taken in 2 or 3 doses throughout the day.

Remember that this and other herbal supplements They are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Consequently, it is essential to seek trusted brands and professional advice.

The application of cat's claw in joint pain would respond to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Contraindications and side effects

Information disclosed in National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health stresses that cat's claw is safe for most healthy adults, as long as it is taken for short periods of time. Still, in some people it can cause the following side effects:

In excess it can cause a reduction in blood pressure, an increased risk of bleeding, nerve alterations and kidney problems, among others. It is contraindicated for women in a state of pregnancy and lactation, people with bleeding disorders, hypertensive patients and for those who are about to undergo surgery.

Since the plant is not exempt from interfering with the action of some medications, it is advisable to consult your doctor or pharmacist before trying it. Some interactions include drugs for blood pressure and cholesterol, anticancer drugs, and clotting drugs.

Cat's claw: its use should be moderate

Science has been in charge of corroborating some of the properties of cat's claw for health. Still, it is essential to use it sparingly and carefully, as there is not enough evidence to support all the effects attributed to it.

For now, supplements derived from the plant should be considered merely a health care aid. They should not be consumed for a long time and much less should they replace the treatments prescribed by the doctor. Keep that in mind!