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Cats Claw in supplementarey cancer therapy and diseases of the immunsystem. 45 capsules, each 300 mg
Cat's claw (U. tomentosa) is a large, woody vine that derives its name from hook-like thorns that grow along the vine and resemble the claws of a cat. Two closely related species of Uncaria are used almost interchangeably in the rainforests: U. tomentosa and U. guianensis. Both species can reach over 30 m high into the canopy.
Cat's claw has been used in Peru and Europe since the early 1990s as an adjunctive treatment for cancer and AIDS as well as for other diseases that target the immune system.
Cat's claw has several groups of plant chemicals that account for much of the plant's actions and uses. First and most studied is a group of oxidole alkaloids that has been documented with immune-stimulant and antileukemic properties. Another group of chemicals called quinovic acid glycosides have documented anti-inflammatory and antiviral actions. Antioxidant chemicals (tannins, catechins and procyanidins) as well as plant sterols (beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, and campesterol) account for the plant's anti-inflammatory properties. A class of compounds known as carboxyl alkyl esters found in cat's claw has been documented with immunostimulant, anti-inflammatory, anticancerous, and cell-repairing properties.
In addition to its immunostimulating activity, in vitro anticancerous properties have been documented for these alkaloids and other constituents in cat's claw. Five of the oxindole alkaloids have been clinically documented with in vitro antileukemic properties, and various root and bark extracts have demonstrated antitumorous and anticancerous properties. Italian researchers reported in a 2001 in vitro study that cat's claw directly inhibited the growth of a human breast cancer cell line by 90%, while another research group reported that it inhibited the binding of estrogens in human breast cancer cells in vitro. Swedish researchers documented it inhibited the growth of lymphoma and leukemia cells in vitro in 1998. Early reports on Keplinger's observatory trials with cancer patients taking cat's claw in conjunction with such traditional cancer therapies as chemotherapy and radiation reported fewer side effects to the traditional therapies (such as hair loss, weight loss, nausea, secondary infections, and skin problems). Subsequent researchers have shown how these effects might be possible: they have reported that cat's claw can aid in DNA cellular repair and prevent cells from mutating; it also can help prevent the loss of white blood cells and immune cell damage caused by many chemotherapy drugs (a common side effect called leukopenia).
Research in Argentina reports that cat's claw is an effective antioxidant; other researchers in 2000 concluded that it is an antioxidant as well as a remarkably potent inhibitor of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha production. TNF represents a model for tumor growth driven by an inflammatory cytokine chemical. Other researchers in the United States reported in 2002 that the anti-inflammatory actions of cat's claw are not attributable to immunostimulating alkaloids but rather to another group of chemicals called carboxyl alkyl esters. This would explain why a product comprised of mostly alkaloids showed only modest benefit to arthritis patients in a study by another group that was incidentally selling a special alkaloid preparation of cat's claw. The same group of anti-inflammatory glycoside chemicals also demonstrated in vitro antiviral properties in another earlier study.
Another research group recently reported that cat's claw's immune-stimulating alkaloids pteropodine and isopteropodine might have other properties and applications. They reported that these two chemicals have shown to have a positive modulating effect on brain neurotransmitters called 5-HT(2) receptors. These receptor sites are targets for drugs used in treating a variety of conditions, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, chronic pain conditions, and obesity.
Traditional Preparation: For general immune and prevention benefits, practitioners usually recommend 1 g daily of vine powder in tablets or capsules. Therapeutic dosages of cat's claw are reported to be as high as 20 g daily and average 2-3 grams two or three times daily. Generally, as a natural aid for arthritis and bowel and digestive problems 3-5 g daily is recommended, if a good product is obtained. Alternatively, a standard vine bark decoction can be used much the same way indigenous people of the Amazon use it. The dosage for a standard decoction for general health and maintenance is 1/2-1 cup of a decoction once daily and up to 1 cup three times daily in times of special needs. Adding lemon juice or vinegar to the decoction when boiling will help extract more alkaloids and fewer tannins from the bark. Use about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar per cup of water. For standardized and/or proprietary extract products, follow the label instructions.
Cat's claw has been clinically documented with immunostimulant effects and is contraindicated before or following any organ or bone marrow transplant or skin graft.
Cat's claw has been documented with antifertility properties and is contraindicated in persons seeking to get pregnant. However, this effect has not been proven to be sufficient for the product to be used as a contraceptive, and it should not be relied on for such.
Cat's claw has chemicals that can reduce platelet aggregation and thin the blood. Check with your doctor first if you are taking coumadin or other blood-thinning drugs and discontinue use one week to ten days prior to any major surgical procedure.
Cat's claw vine bark requires sufficient stomach acid to help break down the tannins and alkaloids during digestion and to aid in absorption. Avoid taking bark capsules or tablets at the same time as antacids. Avoid taking high tannin (dark-colored) liquid extracts and tinctures directly by mouth and dilute first in water or acidic juice (such as orange juice).
Large dosages of cat's claw (3-4 gram dosages at a time) have been reported to cause some abdominal pain or gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea (due to the tannin content of the vine bark) in some people. The diarrhea or loose stools tend to be mild and go away with continued use. Discontinue use or reduce dosage if diarrhea persists longer than three or four days.
Due to its immunostimulant effects, cat's claw should not be used with medications intended to suppress the immune system, such as cyclosporin or other medications prescribed following an organ transplant. (This theory has not been proven scientifically.)
Based upon in vivo rat studies, cat's claw may protect against gastrointestinal damage associated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen.
Cat's claw may potentiate coumadin and blood-thinning drugs.