Catechu

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What other names is Catechu known by?

Black Catechu: Acacia à Cachou, Acacia catechu, Acacia Catechu Heartwood Extract, Black Cutch, Cachou de Pegu, Cachou Noir, Cachou, Cashou, Catechu nigrum, Catecu, Cutch, Dark Catechu, Er Cha, Khair, Khadira, Mimosa catechu, Pegu Catechu.
Pale Catechu: Cachou Pâle, Cube Gambir, Extrait de Brindille/Feuille d'Uncaria Gambier, Gambier, Gambir, Gambir Catechu, Nauclea gambir, Ourouparia gambir, Terra Japonica, Uncaria gambier, Uncaria Gambier Leaf/Twig Extract.

What is Catechu?

Catechu is an herb. The leaves, shoots, and wood are used to make medicine. The two types of catechu, black catechu and pale catechu, contain slightly different chemicals, but they are used for the same purposes and at the same dose.

Catechu is used for diarrhea, swelling of the nose and throat, dysentery, swelling of the colon (colitis), bleeding, indigestion, osteoarthritis, and cancer.

People apply catechu directly to the skin for skin diseases, hemorrhoids, and traumatic injuries; to stop bleeding; and for dressing wounds.

Catechu is included in mouthwashes and gargles used for gum disease (gingivitis), pain and swelling inside the mouth (stomatitis), sore throat, and mouth ulcers.

In foods and beverages, catechu is used as a flavoring agent.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Osteoarthritis. Developing research suggests that taking 500 mg of a specific catechu extract in combination with a specific Baikal skullcap flavonoid extract known as flavocoxid (Limbrel, Primus Pharmaceuticals) twice daily significantly reduces symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee.
  • Injuries.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Swelling of the nose and throat.
  • Swelling in the colon.
  • Bleeding.
  • Cancer.
  • Skin diseases.
  • Hemorrhoids.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of catechu for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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How does Catechu work?

It is thought that catechu may contain chemicals that can decrease inflammation and kill bacteria.

Are there safety concerns?

Catechu is safe in amounts found in food. But there's not enough information to know if it's safe in the larger amounts that are used as medicine. A specific combination product called flavocoxid (Limbrel, Primus Pharmaceuticals) that contains catechu was safely used in research studies lasting up to 12 weeks. However, there are concerns that this combination product might cause liver problems in some people. This side effect does not appear to be common and might only occur in people who have a type of allergic reaction to it.

It's also not known whether it's safe to apply catechu directly to the skin.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Catechu is safe for pregnant and breast-feeding women in food amounts. But larger medicinal amounts should be avoided until more is known.

Low blood pressure (hypotension): Catechu might lower blood pressure. There is a concern that it might lower blood pressure too much, causing fainting and other symptoms, in people who already have low blood pressure.

Surgery: Because catechu might lower blood pressure, there is a concern that it might interfere with blood pressure control during and after surgery. Stop using catechu at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Are there any interactions with medications?



Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Catechu might decrease blood pressure. Taking catechu along with medications used for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.

Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), Amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.

Dosing considerations for Catechu.

The appropriate dose of catechu depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for catechu. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Reviewed on 3/29/2011 12:35:40 PM

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