Cat’s Claw

About Cat’s Claw

Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is a tropical vine that can reach heights of 98 feet (30 metres). It gets its name from its hooked thorns, which resemble cat claws. It is primarily found in the Amazon rainforest and some other tropical parts of Central and South America.

It’s bark and root have been utilized as herbal medicine for numerous illnesses in South America for ages, including inflammation, cancer, and infections. Cat’s claw is primarily used to treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It is also sold as a dietary supplement for the treatment of viral infections, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diverticulitis, peptic ulcers, colitis, gastritis, haemorrhoids, and leaky gut syndrome. However, there is no solid scientific data to back up these claims.

Cat’s claw is appealing to medicinal researchers due to several known qualities. It has been demonstrated to have immune-modulating, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties, and research is being conducted to investigate its potential application for a variety of conditions, including some types of arthritis, Lyme disease, and cancer.

A Herb with Potential Cancer-Fighting Properties

Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is a woody vine native to the Amazon rainforest and other parts of Central and South America. It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine for various health purposes. While it is often touted for its immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties, its potential cancer-fighting properties have also been a subject of interest.

Several studies have investigated the effects of Cat’s Claw on cancer cells and the immune system. It contains various active compounds, such as alkaloids, flavonoids, and tannins, which are believed to contribute to its medicinal properties. Some of the potential mechanisms of action include antioxidant effects, immune modulation, and inhibition of tumor cell growth.

In laboratory studies, Cat’s Claw extracts have shown promising results in inhibiting the growth and proliferation of various cancer cells, including breast, lung, colon, and prostate cancer cells. These extracts have been found to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells and inhibit angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels that support tumor growth).

Furthermore, Cat’s Claw has been investigated for its potential to enhance the immune response against cancer. It may stimulate the activity of natural killer cells and macrophages, which play crucial roles in recognizing and destroying cancer cells.

Despite these promising findings, it’s important to note that most of the research on Cat’s Claw and its potential cancer-fighting properties has been conducted in laboratory settings or animal models. Clinical trials in humans are limited, and the existing evidence is preliminary. Therefore, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness and safety of Cat’s Claw as a cancer treatment or preventive measure in humans.

It’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before using Cat’s Claw or any other herbal supplement, especially if you have cancer or are undergoing cancer treatment. They can provide personalized advice, take into account your specific health condition, and help you make informed decisions about complementary therapies.

Cat’s claw supplements are available in the form of liquid extract, capsule, powder, or tea.

Mechanism of action

Specific compounds present in cat’s claw may stimulate the immune system, destroy cancer cells, and combat viruses.

Compounds identified in cat’s claw boosted the functioning of certain immune cells termed as phagocytes and T-helper cells in laboratory trials. Cat’s claw may also be able to decrease some of the processes that generate inflammation, improve DNA repair, and reduce the negative effects of chemotherapy. However, the majority of these effects are documented in laboratory investigations, with only a few modest human trials published. A cat’s claw extract has been reported to promote the survival of pediatric leukemic cells, implying that this herb may not be suitable for all cancers.

Potential health advantages

Cat’s claw has grown in popularity as a herbal remedy due to its claimed health advantages — yet only the claims listed below are supported by appropriate research:

1.) May stimulate your immune system.

Cat’s claw may boost your immune system, enabling you to fight infections more efficiently. Cat’s claw appears to work by both increasing immunological response and relaxing an overactive immune system.

A brief research of 27 men reported that consuming 700 mg of cat’s claw extract for two months raised their amount of white blood cells, which help fight infections.

Its anti-inflammatory effects may be accountable for its immune-boosting properties.
Despite these encouraging findings, more studies are required.

2.) May reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Cat’s claw includes a unique chemical known as Pentacyclic Oxindolic Alkaloid (POA), which is considered to have anti-inflammatory properties, making it appealing as a potential treatment for arthritis.
Consuming a certain cat’s claw extract orally seems to alleviate knee pain caused by physical activity. However, it does not appear to reduce knee inflammation or pain while resting.

In one trial of 45 participants with knee osteoarthritis, consuming 100 mg of cat’s claw extract for four weeks relieved discomfort during physical exercise. There were no documented side effects. Yet, there was no improvement in either resting pain or knee edema.

Researchers believe that the anti-inflammatory qualities of cat’s claw may help alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Please note that more studies on cat’s claw and osteoarthritis are required.

3.) May reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Consuming a specific cat’s claw extract seems to alleviate rheuatoid arthritis symptoms. Cat’s claw appears to lower the number of painful and swollen joints when used in conjunction with other rheumatoid arthritis treatments for 24 weeks.

A short trial employing a highly purified extract of a specific chemical makeup found a slight benefit in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis, but greater well-designed investigations are necessary to verify such benefits.

A trial of 40 people having rheumatoid arthritis found that taking 60 mg of cat’s claw extract daily in addition to conventional treatment resulted in a 29% drop in the number of aching joints when compared with a control group.

Similar to osteoarthritis, cat’s claw is known to lower inflammation in your body, thus relieving symptoms of rheumatoid.
Although these findings are encouraging, the sufficient data is still lacking. Larger, high-quality investigations are required to confirm these advantages.

Unsupported health claims

Cat’s claw contains various active substances that may enhance health, including phenolic acids, alkaloids, and flavonoids.
However, there is currently insufficient data to substantiate many of its claimed advantages, particularly those for the illnesses listed below:

1.) Cancer.

Cat’s claw has not been demonstrated to be an effective treatment for cancer. Some preliminary research suggests that the POA (Pentacyclic Oxindolic Alkaloid) contained in cat’s claw may have anti-tumor capabilities.
Early research reveals that consuming 100 mg of cat’s claw extract three times daily for at least eight weeks may help reduce fatigue and enhance quality of life in some people with solid tumors.

Some preliminary research suggests that the POA present in cat’s claw may have anti-tumor capabilities. POA is thought to be toxic in certain cancer cells and may have less of an effect on normal cells, which are generally harmed by chemotherapy. POA produced from the bark of cat’s claw was capable of killing and blocking the spread of breast cancer and Ewing’s sarcoma cells in test tube trials, according to a 2010 study from the University of Seville. Although the cytotoxic (cell-killing) impact was identical to that of the medicine Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), the amount required to accomplish this effect on the human body would most likely be prohibitively expensive. Nonetheless, the discovery points to a possible new path for cancer medication development.

According to a 2016 study, various strains of cat’s claw can destroy several kinds of cancer cells, including those from bladder cancer and glioblastoma, a kind of brain cancer. This study discovered that cat’s claw does not affect healthy cells.

Cat’s claw has also been demonstrated to have anticancer properties against many cancer cell lines, as well as anti-neoplastic properties in a breast cancer model. It was also shown to boost healthy hematopoietic tissue cells and minimise chemotherapy adverse effects including neutropenia. These findings have also been observed in cancer patients.

In a study of breast cancer patients, cat’s claw lowered chemo-induced side effects and enhanced quality of life in individuals with advanced cancer.

However, a cat’s claw extract has been demonstrated to promote the survival of pediatric leukemic cells, implying that this herb may not be suitable for all cancers.

2.) Viral infections.

3.) Allergies.

4.) Stomach and bowel diseases.

5.) AIDS.

Side effects

While adverse effects of cat’s claw are rarely encountered, there is currently inadequate research to establish its overall safety.
If ingested in large quantities, the high concentrations of tannins in cat’s claw may cause nausea, stomach discomfort, and diarrhea.

Other probable side effects supported by case reports and test-tube research include low blood pressure, higher risk of bleeding, nerve damage, anti-estrogen effects, and harmful effects on renal function. However, these complaints are uncommon.

When taken orally: Cat’s claw is POSSIBLY SAFE for most individuals when consumed for short period. Some side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Low blood pressure

When the treatment is stopped, the majority of the adverse effects resolve on their own.
Cat’s claw can also cause blood coagulation to slow, resulting in easy bruising and bleeding, especially in individuals taking anticoagulants.

Precautions and warnings

It is generally recommended that the following people should avoid or restrict their consumption of cat’s claw:

1.) Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding: Given the lack of safety information, cat’s claw is not regarded safe to consume during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

2.) People suffering from auto-immune diseases: Individuals suffering from auto-immune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), or other similar issues should avoid consuming cat’s claw. The immune system may become more active as a result of cat’s claw. This has the potential to exacerbate the symptoms of auto-immune illnesses. If you have any such disorder, it’s advisable to avoid using cat’s claw without first consulting your doctor.

3.) People suffering from bleeding disorders: Cat’s claw may delay blood coagulation. It  may increase the risk of bruising or bleeding in individuals who have bleeding abnormalities.

4.) People who are taking certain medicines: Because cat’s claw may interact with certain medications, such as those used to treat high blood pressure, cholesterol, cancer, and blood clotting, people should consult their healthcare professionals before consuming it.

5.) People with low blood pressure: There is some indication that cat’s claw can reduce blood pressure. This could be an issue if your blood pressure is already low. Therefore, avoid consuming it in such cases.

6.) People who are presently having or will soon have surgery: It is believed that the cat’s claw could make blood pressure regulation tougher during surgery. Avoid using cat’s claw at least two weeks before surgery. Cat’s claw can also lead blood coagulation to slow, resulting in easy bruising and bleeding, especially in individuals using anticoagulants. As a result, you should discontinue using cat’s claw at least two weeks before surgery to minimize severe bleeding.

7.) Organ transplant recipients: Cat’s claw may cause organ rejection in organ transplant recipients, therefore, patients with this condition should avoid it.

Drug interactions

Cat’s claw has been shown to interact with many pharmaceutical medications, including:

  • Allegra and other allergy drugs (fexofenadine)
  • Anticoagulants (blood thinners)
  • Antifungal medications
  • Antiretroviral medications used to treat HIV, 
  • Cancer medications
  • Cholesterol medicines, for example, lovastatin
  • Diuretics
  • Immunosuppressive drugs
  • Contraceptives that are used orally

Dosage instructions

If you opt to use cat’s claw, keep in mind that no dose standards have been determined. Dosing recommendations differ among manufacturers and are influenced more by existing methods than hard evidence.

According to the WHO, an average daily dose for extracts is 20–350 mg of dried stem bark or 300–500 mg for capsules, given in 2–3 distinct doses throughout the day. The dosage of cat’s claw tinctures varies depending on the formulation’s potency, but 1 to 4 milliliters(ml) daily is the typically suggested dose.

As a general guideline, never consume more than the amount indicated on the product description.

In research studies, the following doses have been investigated:

  • For osteoarthritis: 100 mg of a particular freeze-dried cat’s claw extract per day. 
  • For rheumatoid arthritis: 60 mg of a particular cat’s claw extract daily in three split dosages.

One potential risk factor is that the FDA does not strictly monitor many herbal products, including cat’s claw. To decrease the chances of contamination, it is better to buy cat’s claw from a trusted seller.


Cat’s claw is a well-known herbal remedy extracted from a tropical vine.

While studies of many of its purported health advantages are limited, some data suggests that cat’s claw may help improve your immune system and alleviate symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Since no safety or dosage recommendations have been developed, it is important to seek medical advice before using cat’s claw.