Cat's claw (Uncaria tomentosa, Uncaria guianensis)


Cat's claw is a woody vine native to the Amazon rainforest and other tropical areas of South and Central America. It has been used as birth control, an anti-inflammatory, an immune enhancer, a cancer remedy, and an antiviral.
Many plant species are marketed under the name cat's claw, the most common being Uncaria tomentosa and Uncaria guianensis. Both are used to treat the same conditions, although Uncaria tomentosa is thought to be more effective.
There are reports that a possibly toxic plant, Acacia greggii, has replaced cat's claw in some commercial formulas. Cat's claw may be contaminated with other Uncaria species, some that may lower blood pressure, slow heart rate, or affect the nervous system.
Cat's claw has been studied as medicine for many conditions, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. While results have been promising, evidence is still lacking.

Related Terms

3,4-dehydro-5-carboxystrictosidine, ammonia treated quinic acid (QAA), ancajsillo, ancayacu, aublet, auri huasca, bejuco de agua, beta-sitosterol, campesterol, cat's claw inner bark extract, cell line green Uth-3, C-Med-100®, deixa paraguayo, gambir, garabato, garabato amarillo, garabato blanco, garbato casha, garbato colorado, garbato gavilán, garra gavilán, geissoschizine methyl ether, Gou-Teng, griffe du chat, hawk's claw, isorhynchophylline, isorotundifolune, jijyuwamyúho, jipotatsa, Krallendorn®, kugkuukjagki, life-giving vine of Peru, misho-mentis, mitraphylline, nature's aspirin, Nauclea aculeate, Nauclea oculeata, Nauclea tomentosa, oleanolic acid, Ourouparia guianensis, Ourouparia tomentosa, paotati-mosha, paraguaya, pentacyclic oxindoles, Peruvian cat's claw, pole catechu, popokainangra, quinic acid (QA), quinovic acid glycosides, radix Uncariae tomentosae (Willd.), rangayo, rhynchophylline, rotundifoline, Rubiaceae (family), samento, saventaro, stigmasterol, tambor hausca, tannins, tetracyclic oxindoles, tomcat's claw, torõn, tsachik, tua juncara, uña de gato, uña de gato de altura, uña de gato del bajo, uña de gavilán, uña huasca, Uncaria guianensis, Uncaria tomentosa, uncarinic acid C, uncarinic acid D, uncarine C, uncarine E, ursolic acid, unganangi, unganangui, UT extract, UTE, vegicaps.
Note: There are 34 Uncaria species other than Uncaria tomentosa. Other species are also referred to as uña de gato: Anadenanthera flava, Bauhinia aculeata, Berberis goudotii, Byttneri hirsuta, Caesalpinia sepiara, Celtis uguanae, Clerodendrum aculeatum, Doxantha ungis catti, Macfadyena undis catti, Mimosa albida, Mimosa acantholoba, Mimosa montana, Mimosa pigra, Piptadenia colubrina, Piptadenia flava, Pisonia aculeate, Pithecellobium unguis catti, Rubus urticaefolius, Smilax species, Zanthoxylum panamensis, and Zanthoxylum rigidum.
Combination product examples: CognoBlend™ (Bacopa monniera, Ginkgo biloba, cat's claw, gotu kola, rosemary), Krallendom® (cat's claw mixed with zidovudine [AZT]).

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Allergies (Grade: C)
At this time, evidence is lacking in support of the use of cat's claw for any allergic condition. More research is needed in this area.
Arthritis (Grade: C)
Early study suggests that cat's claw may reduce inflammation. Cat's claw has been found to improve arthritis pain; however, effects on overall stiffness and swelling were lacking. One study reported an extract of cat's claw to be safe and effective for people with rheumatoid arthritis who were taking prescription drugs. Cat's claw may also reduce pain from knee osteoarthritis. More research is needed before further conclusions can be made.
Blood circulation (Grade: C)
A trial reports that a combination Chinese product containing cat's claw may help improve circulation and reduce swelling. However, more research is needed to understand the potential effects of cat's claw alone.
Cancer (Grade: C)
Early study has found promising evidence that cat's claw may have anticancer benefits, especially in smokers. However, high-quality trials are needed before a firm conclusion may be made.
High blood pressure (Grade: C)
Early studies suggest that cat's claw may help lower blood pressure. However, results are conflicting. More evidence is needed before cat's claw may be considered effective for this purpose.
Immune function (Grade: C)
Cat's claw may boost immune function in people who have HIV. However, there have been mixed results. More evidence is needed before the use of cat's claw may be supported for immune effects.
Inflammation (Grade: C)
Studies suggest that cat's claw may reduce inflammation. Research has been conducted on the possible benefit of cat's claw for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Further study is needed.
Tooth disease (Grade: C)
Cat's claw may have benefits in treating tooth disease. More high-quality research is needed before firm conclusions can be made.