Cat's claw is the plant Uncaria tomentosa. Cat's claw is a vine that grows in the tropical areas of Central and South America. The plant winds along with trees, reaching up to 30 meters in length.
Thorns, which resemble the shape of the panther’s claw, grow on it. Hence the name "Cat's claw." There are two varieties of the liana, and both are called Cat's Claw: Uncaria tomentosa (U.t.) and Uncaria guianensis (U.g.).
Both plants have different homeopathic functions as U.t. is the variety of cat's claw that is studied medically in more detail. Both plants contain various phytochemicals that carry biomedical benefits and are produced by extracting extracts from the bark and roots.
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Purpose and Health Benefits of Cat's Claw
The variety of Uncaria tomentosa exhibits immune-stimulating effects, and the variety of Uncaria guianensis is used in the treatment and prevention of osteoarthritis.
The first variety is more useful for athletes, and that is why we will focus on its functions.
Cat's Claw, Variety Uncaria Tomentosa (U.t.)
This variety contains two different groups of phytochemicals from the group of the alkaloids, in particular, the pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids (POAs) or tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids (TOAs).
The groups have different effects on the body. The pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids (POAs) have essential immunity reinforcing functions.
The Benefits of POAs:
- enhance the immune system by destroying many of the parasitic strains of bacteria living in the digestive system
- support the immune T-cells, for which there is data that they are available at low levels in athletes
- increase the effectiveness of the macrophages (a type of immune cells)
- increase the anticancer ability of the immune system
- strengthen the ability of the body to deal with viral infections
The tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids (TOAs) in turn inhibit the functions of POAs and cause some negative health effects:
- reduce or totally eliminate the immune-stimulating effects rendered by POAs, depending on the ratio of the concentrations of both phytochemicals
- slow the speed and the strength of the heart rhythm, which may lead to arrhythmias, nausea, dizziness, headaches and sedative effects
- have a preventative effect in people with high blood pressure, who are at risk of heart attack
Other positive health effects: there are speculations that the cat's claw exhibits antioxidant activity and allegations that it improves the male insemination potential.
Are There Any Side Effects and Contraindications of Cat's Claw
There are two groups of possible side effects, caused by POAs and caused by TOAs. POAs cause excess immune reactions in some people with allergies. TOAs suppress cardiac activity. Most manufacturers do not remove the TOAs from the extracts of cat's claw.
It is best to look for the product label that indicates the % content of POAs and TOAs because this is the only way you will be safe about their health.
Who and In Combination with What Shouldn't Take Cat’s Claw
- Pregnant women or nursing mothers.
- Children under two years of age.
- People with skin and organ transplants. People with autoimmune diseases (allergies), bleeding problems, or tuberculosis.
It is not desirable to take a cat's claw in combination with vaccines, hormones or insulin. Do not take cat's claw nitrogen boosters or if you have low blood pressure.
Necessary Doses and Way of Intake
The concentrations of the alkaloids in the extract determine the doses. At 4% concentration of alkaloids, the doses range from 250 mg to 1000 mg/day.
In Which Sports and Health Supplements Can You Find Cat’s Claw
Most often cat's claw is part of adjuvants and antioxidants. Rarely will you see it in some digestion enhancers?
It is put there to eliminate the pathogenic strains of bacteria in the stomach and intestines.