Cat's Claw

What other names is Cat's Claw known by?

Griffe du Chat, Liane du Pérou, Life-giving Vine of Peru, Samento, Uña de Gato, Uncaria guianensis, Uncaria tomentosa.

What is Cat's Claw?

Cat's claw is a plant. Two species of cat's claw, Uncaria tomentosa and Uncaria guianensis, are of primary interest for use as medicine. Uncaria tomentosa is most commonly used in the U.S., and Uncaria guianensis is typically used in Europe. Medicine is made from the root and bark. Cat's claw was ranked as the seventh most popular herb in U.S. sales in 1997. Be careful not to confuse cat's claw with cat's foot.

Cat's claw is most commonly used for improving symptoms of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

It is also used for various digestive system disorders including swelling and pain (inflammation) of the large intestine (diverticulitis), inflammation of the lower bowel (colitis), inflammation of the lining of the stomach (gastritis), stomach ulcers, hemorrhoids, and leaky bowel syndrome.

Some people use cat's claw for viral infections including shingles (caused by herpes zoster), cold sores (caused by herpes simplex), and AIDS (caused by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)).

Cat's claw is also used for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), wound healing, parasites, Alzheimer's disease, asthma, hay fever, cancer (especially urinary tract cancer), a particular type of brain cancer called glioblastoma, gonorrhea, dysentery, birth control, bone pains, and "cleansing" the kidneys.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Reducing pain from a kind of arthritis called osteoarthritis. Taking a specific freeze-dried cat's claw extract (Uncaria guianensis) by mouth appears to relieve knee pain related to physical activity within one week of treatment, but it does not decrease pain at rest or decrease knee swelling. Taking a specific combination supplement (Reparagen) containing cat's claw (Vincaria) and maca (RNI 249) for 8 weeks seems to reduce pain and stiffness, improve function, and reduce the need to use rescue medication as well as taking glucosamine sulfate.
  • Improving symptoms of a kind of arthritis called rheumatoid arthritis (RA) when used with regular rheumatoid arthritis medications. Taking a specific cat's claw extract (Uncaria tomentosa) that contains chemicals called pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids but is free of other chemicals called tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids appears to improve symptoms of RA somewhat. Taken by mouth in combination with sulfasalazine or hydroxychloroquine for 24 weeks, cat's claw seems to reduce the number of painful and swollen joints.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

More evidence is needed to rate cat's claw 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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