✵The article gives records of the herb Cat's Claw, its English name, Latin name, common names, property and flavor, its botanical source one plant species, ①.Uncaria tomentosa., with a detailed introduction to the botanical features of this plant species, the growth characteristics, and ecological environment of this plant species, the features of the herb Cat's Claw, its pharmacological actions, medicinal efficacy, and administration guide.
English Name: Cat's Claw.
Latin Name: Uncaria tomentosa (Willd.) Dc and Uncaria guianensis (Aubi.) (Gmel.)
Common Names: Life-giving vine of Peru, Samento, Garbato, Praguaya, Tombor hausca, Toron, Una de Gato.
Property and flavor: taste astringent.
Brief introduction: Cat's claw is a twining, ligneous vine that grows throughout the tropics of the South America continent. The herb derives its name from its claw-shaped thorns. It is used as alternative medicine in the treatment of a variety of ailments.
Botanical source: Common herbal classics defined the herb Cat's claw as the dried root bark of the species (1). Uncaria tomentosa. It is a plant species of the Uncaria genus, the Rubiaceae family (madder family). The dried root bark is used medicinally. This commonly used species is introduced:
Botanical description: Unicaria tomentosa is a large ligneous vine that grows up to about 30 meters long, 8~25 cm in diameter near the base, vigorous and evergreen, spiny climbing shrub scrambling into other plants and attaching itself by means of its stout, recurved spines, the bark is longitudinal fissures that range from yellow to yellow-green. The leaves are simple, opposite, elliptic, or ovate. The size of leaves ranges from 7 to 18 cm in length and from 4 to 13 cm wide. The leaf margins are entire, with a roundish base. The spines are ligneous (woody) and occur in pairs, they are curved like a cat's and thorn-like.
The flowers are hermaphroditic and sessile. The calyx is tubular, 1 to 2 mm in length and 1 mm in diameter. The corolla is 7 to 12 mm long, 4 mm in diameter, and contains 5 roundish lobes. The stamens are in fives and fused. The anthers are 1 mm in length; the stigma elliptical. The ovary is inferior. The fruits are elliptical, 6 to 8 mm in length, and 4 to 6 mm wide.
Ecological environment: Uncaria tomentosa is native to the rainforest areas of Central and South America, typical of primary forests, but also found in disturbed forests and rarely in secondary forests, in Central America, it mainly grows in Panama to Guatemala, in South America mainly in Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyanas, Caribbean-Trinidad, etc.
Growth characteristics: Uncaria tomentosa grows mainly in tropical areas of low elevations, where it can usually be found at elevations up to 300 meters. It grows best in dappled shade and prefers a pH (pH scale:acidity-basicity) in the range of 5.2~7.7. In some parts of the Atlantic coast of Central America, the plant is reported to become a troublesome weed in banana plantations. The stems are only large enough to harvest when they are 8 years or elder. Generally, it is recommended that the vine is cut at 20~100 cm above the ground and left to regenerate.
Characters of herbs: Cat's Claw is a popular medicinal herb, mainly gathered from the wild or semi-cultivated, and traded in many countries.
Pharmacological actions: ①. Stimulate the immune system; ②.antimutagenic and antitumor activity, antineoplastic effect; ③.anti-inflammatory; ④.anti-viral; ⑤.antihypertensive effect and cardiovascular effect;etc.
Scientists found that alkaloids and other substances in Uncaria tomentosa can stimulate the immune system by increasing phagocytosis, white blood cells engulfing abnormal cells, bacteria, etc. The herb has an antimutagenic effect and could help inhibit dangerous and cancer-causing cell mutations, water saps of cat's claw show antitumor activity, cat's claw extract was found induce apoptosis and inhibit proliferation of human tumor cells. But whether its immune-stimulating and antimutagenic effect can be used for AIDS patients (patients of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), remains to be verified. Cat's claw has anti-inflammatory actions in rat-paw inflammation test, its glycosides have anti-viral activity, the glycosides quinovic acid glycosides shows antiviral activity against vesicular stomatitis virus, against RNA virus vesicular stomatitis virus, and against rhinovirus type 1B in vitro. The component hirsutine has an antihypertensive effect.
Medicinal efficacy: Cat's claw tea was used by Peruvian Indian tribes for centuries to treat conditions from arthritis to intestinal ailments, weakened immune systems, ulcers, asthma, allergies, tumors, gonorrhea, yeast infections, etc. It was reported in Europe that taking Cat's claw with AZT (azidothymidine, also called zidovudine) can benefit AIDS patients, so there was an increased demand for the plant in North America, consumers used it also for peptic ulcers, gastritis, hemorrhoids, etc. In folk medicine, Cat's claw has been used for rheumatic problems, diarrhea, gastritis, treatment of wounds, asthma, menstrual irregularity, and as a contraceptive.
Administration of Cat's Claw(Samento):
Administration Guide of Cat's Claw(Samento)
Herbal classic books:
A decoction is prepared with 30 grams of powder to 800 ml water, allow simmering on the stove for 45 minutes or until it concentrates to about 500 ml liquid remaining, allow cooling, then strain and refrigerate. The daily dosage is 250 to 1000 mg daily (0.25 to 1 gram daily). The total alkaloid equivalent should be 10 to 30 mg. Decoction dosage is 60 ml once daily in the morning on an empty stomach. One to two 500 mg bark capsules are taken three times a day. Cat's claw should be stored at room temperature away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
Contraindications, Precautions and Adverse Reactions: There are no reports of major toxic reactions to cat's claw, some communities have used it consistently over decades or longer, but no large trials have been done to fully assess its safety, particularly over the long term. The herb should not be used during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Normally, it is recommended to avoid using if you take ulcer medications.