Cat's Claw plant
© 2018 Steven Foster

A cat’s claw monograph for the home

Latin Name: Uncaria tomentosa, Uncaria guianensis

Common Names: cat’s claw, uña de gato

This cat’s claw monograph provides basic information about cat’s claw—common names, usefulness and safety, and resources for more information.


Cat’s Claw Basics

  • Cat’s claw is a woody vine that grows wild in the Amazon rainforest and other tropical areas of Central and South America. Its thorns resemble a cat’s claws.
  • The two most common species are U. tomentosa and U. guianensis. Most commercial preparations of cat’s claw contain U. tomentosa.
  • Using cat’s claw for health dates back to the Inca civilization. Its historical uses have included for contraception, inflammation, cancer, and viral infections, and to stimulate the immune system.
  • Today, cat’s claw is used as a dietary supplement for a variety of health conditions including viral infections (such as herpes and HIV), Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, arthritis, diverticulitis, peptic ulcers, colitis, gastritis, hemorrhoids, parasites, and leaky bowel syndrome.
  • The bark and root of cat’s claw are used to make liquid extracts, capsules, tablets, and tea.

Cat’s Claw in Health Research

  • There have been very few high quality clinical trials (studies done in people) of cat’s claw.

Cat’s Claw Research Summary

  • There’s no conclusive scientific evidence based on studies in people that supports using cat’s claw for any health purpose.

Cat’s Claw Safety

  • Few side effects have been reported for cat’s claw when taken in small amounts.
  • Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should avoid using cat’s claw because of its past use for preventing and aborting pregnancy.

Cat’s Claw References

  • Cat’s claw. Natural Medicines Web site. Accessed at on March 24, 2015. [Database subscription].
  • Erowele GI, Kalejaiye AO. Pharmacology and therapeutic uses of cat’s claw. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. 2009;66(11):992-995.

PubMed Articles About Uncaria tomentosa

Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)[Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US), National Center for Biotechnology Information; [1988] – [cited 2018 Apr 5]. Available from:

Search query:(Uncaria tomentosa AND diabetes AND (( Clinical Trial[ptyp] OR systematic[sb] ) AND Humans[Mesh]))