Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa)
This Central and South American vine got its name from its curved thorns. Medicines from this plant are made from the root and bark. Cat’s claw works on the immune system by stimulating the production of white blood cells to fight infection.
It’s also an anti-inflammatory and is used to relieve pain and swelling of arthritis. (23) A 1998 meta-analysis of the wide variety of uses of this plant concluded, “Indeed, Uncaria tomentosa’s broad therapeutic application suggests it is a worthy addition to the list of drugs used to treat the immune system”. (24) Science has yet to figure out all the ways it works.
Antitumor activity from cat’s claw has been attributed to its antioxidants. (25) Other chemical constituents, such as alkyloids, have been associated with cat’s claw’s immunomodulating properties. Therapeutic uses include:
- chronic viral infections such as herpes simplex and herpes zoster (shingles) (26, 27, 28)
- inflammatory disorders such as colitis, gastritis, hemorrhoids, leaky bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, Alzheimer’s disease, and peptic ulcers (29)
- protection from radiation and chemotherapy damage (30)
- rheumatoid arthritis (31)