Cat's Claw

Botanicals

18/Description

About

Cat's claw is a plant. Two species of cat's claw, Uncaria tomentosa and Uncaria guianensis, are of primary interest for use as medicine. Uncaria tomentosa is most commonly used in the U.S., and Uncaria guianensis is typically used in Europe. Medicine is made from the root and bark. Be careful not to confuse cat's claw with cat's foot.

Cat's claw is most commonly used for improving symptoms of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

It is also used for various digestive system disorders including swelling and pain (inflammation) of the large intestine (diverticulitis), inflammation of the lower bowel (colitis), inflammation of the lining of the stomach (gastritis), stomach ulcers, hemorrhoids, and leaky bowel syndrome.

Some people use cat's claw for viral infections including shingles (caused by herpes zoster), cold sores (caused by herpes simplex), and AIDS (caused by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)).

Cat's claw is also used for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), wound healing, parasites, Alzheimer's disease, asthma, hay fever, cancer (especially urinary tract cancer), a particular type of brain cancer called glioblastoma, gonorrhea, dysentery, birth control, bone pains, and "cleansing" the kidneys.

How it works

Cat's claw contains chemicals that might stimulate the immune system, kill cancer cells, and fight viruses.

Effectiveness

Possibly Effective
Reducing pain from a kind of arthritis called osteoarthritis

Taking a specific freeze-dried cat's claw extract (Uncaria guianensis) by mouth appears to relieve knee pain related to physical activity within one week of treatment, but it does not decrease pain at rest or decrease knee swelling. Taking a specific combination supplement (Reparagen) containing cat's claw (Vincaria) and maca (RNI 249) for 8 weeks seems to reduce pain and stiffness, improve function, and reduce the need to use rescue medication as well as taking glucosamine sulfate.

Improving symptoms of a kind of arthritis called rheumatoid arthritis (RA) when used with regular rheumatoid arthritis medications

Taking a specific cat's claw extract (Uncaria tomentosa) that contains chemicals called pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids but is free of other chemicals called tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids appears to improve symptoms of RA somewhat. Taken by mouth in combination with sulfasalazine or hydroxychloroquine for 24 weeks, cat's claw seems to reduce the number of painful and swollen joints.

Concerns

Possibly safe

Cat's claw is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people, when taken by mouth short-term. However, it can cause headache, dizziness, and vomiting in some people.

18/Warnings

Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is some concern that cat's claw isPOSSIBLY UNSAFEduringpregnancywhen taken by mouth. Not enough is known about the safety of cat's claw duringbreast-feeding. Avoid using cat's claw if you arepregnantor breast-feeding.Are there any interactions with medications?

"Auto-immune diseases" such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), or other similar conditions: Cat's claw might cause the immune system to become more active. This could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it's best to avoid using cat's claw without consulting with your healthcare provider.

Bleeding disorders: Cat's claw might slow blood clotting. There is concern that cat's claw might increase the risk of bruising or bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.

Low blood pressure: Low blood pressure: There is some evidence that cat's claw might lower blood pressure. If your blood pressure is already too low, this might be a problem.

Leukemia: Cat's claw might worsen this condition. Don't use it if you have leukemia.

Surgery: There is a concern that cat's claw might make blood pressure control difficult during surgery. Stop taking cat's claw at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Interactions

Always consult with your doctor.
Moderate
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)

Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Cat's claw might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking cat's claw along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking cat's claw, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.Some medications changed by the liver include lovastatin (Mevacor), ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Sporanox), fexofenadine (Allegra), triazolam (Halcion), and many others.Cat's claw seems to decrease blood pressure. Taking cat's claw along with medications for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), Amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDiuril), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.Cat's claw might decrease blood pressure. Taking cat's claw with medication for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low. Don't use cat's claw if you are taking high blood pressure medications.Some medications for high blood pressure include nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, Verelan), diltiazem (Cardizem), isradipine (DynaCirc), felodipine (Plendil), amlodipine (Norvasc), and othersThe body breaks down medications used for HIV/AIDS to get rid of them. Taking cat's claw might decrease how quickly the body breaks down these medications. This could increase the effects and side effects of some medications used for HIV/AIDS.Some of these medications used for HIV/AIDS include amprenavir (Agenerase), nelfinavir (Viracept), ritonavir (Norvir), and saquinavir (Fortovase, Invirase).Cat's claw might increase the immune system. By increasing the immune system, cat's claw might decrease the effectiveness of medications that decrease the immune system.Some medications that decrease the immune system include azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), corticosteroids (glucocorticoids), and others.Cat's claw might slow blood clotting. Taking cat's claw along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding in some people.Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

The information provided on this page is for reference purposes and is not meant to be used as a medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with a medical professional.