Its scientific name is Uncaria tomentosa, and cat’s claw can be found in the rainforests of Central and South America. It is a woody vine that can grow up to 30 meters tall and lives among the canopy high in the rainforest. Its name comes from the hook-like thorns that look similar to a cat’s claw. It has been used for many years as an herbal medicine and dates back to the indigenous peoples.
Health Benefits of Cat’s Claw
There are many health benefits to using cat’s claw, but as always, make sure you consult with your doctor or holistic practitioner when beginning any new herbal supplement.
1. Gastrointestinal Issues
Many people suffer from gastrointestinal issues. Whether it is “leaky gut syndrome” or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, cat’s claw can help in supporting digestive health so that accidents don’t happen. It can also help relieve pain and inflammation inside the intestines. Cat’s claw can clean the digestive tract by getting rid of harmful bacteria.
2. Cancer Prevention and Treatment
The herbal medicine can actually help prevent and treat cancer. Its compounds have been known to prevent the growth of tumors in breast cancer as well as help to fight leukemia. The alkaloids in the herb are what help fight the growth of tumors.
3. Heals Quickly
If you are suffering from an illness or have recently gotten a wound, cat’s claw can help get rid of diseases quickly and prevent infections in wounds. The antioxidants found in the herb can help ensure that your wound will not become infected. Bacterial infections have also been known to disappear quicker when treated with cat’s claw.
Inflammation can really affect one’s daily life. Many arthritic patients have used cat’s claw to treat joint pain and swelling. The glycosides inside the supplement are what can reduce swelling in joints and also in wounds. Without inflammation, a person’s pain associated with the swelling, can also be reduced.
5. Immune Support
Cat’s claw can help to increase white blood cell count. White blood cells are what help to fight off infections and keep the body healthy. The more white blood cells, the less likely it is to get sick from bacteria. The herb can not only eliminate bacterial infections, but it can also help a person to get better if they do become sick. There is a chemical called isopteropodin, which helps to support the immune system.
6. Lowers High Blood Pressure
Having high blood pressure can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular diseases. Using cat’s claw is a way to naturally reduce high blood pressure to a more normal level. This can also help reduce the risk of blood clots, and it increases circulation throughout the body. The alkaloid, hirsutine helps to lower high blood pressure that can be a dangerous risk to the body.
7. Regulate Menstrual Cycle
If you are female, then you know what a pain it can be to have an irregular menstrual cycle. Cat’s claw can help to regulate your cycle and can also help with some of the symptoms. Bloating, cramps, and mood changes can all be reduced when using cat’s claw as a natural supplement. It is important, however, that it is not used if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Cat’s claw can cause miscarriages and was once used as a form of birth control.
8. Treats Herpes
The herpes virus can live inside the human body without any side effects for many years. With a herpes flair up, a patient might experience blisters and sores that can be easily passed onto someone else that comes into contact with the open wounds. The polyphenols inside cat’s claw help to prevent outbreaks in a person diagnosed with herpes.
How to Use It
The tea can be made by boiling water and adding a few drops of lemon juice. Lemon juice will help cat’s claw tea to naturally release the beneficial tannins of the herb. Add the herb to the water and lemon juice.
Cat’s claw does not have a great taste on its own, so you may need to add honey or another natural sweetener so that the drink is more desirable.
It is important to remember that when you are taking a supplement, you should consult your physician. As with any supplement, there can be side effects and interactions with other drugs. Some of the side effects of cat’s claw can be nausea, diarrhea, and dizziness.
As mentioned before, it can also cause miscarriages, so do not take if you are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant.
Cat’s claw can also interact with some drugs such as ones that suppress the immune system and blood thinners. Consult your doctor for a complete list of side effects and drug interactions.