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 naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/ 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.