Cat's claw

Plant Part Used

Root bark

Active Constituents

Proanthocyanidins, quinovic acids, oxindole alkaloids (pteridine, isopteridine, uncarine, mitraphylline, isomitraphylline), N-oxide, rhynocophylline, carboline alkaloid, hirustine, N-oxide triterpenes, polyphenols, phytosterols (stigmasterol and campesterol).(1) [span class=alert]

This section is a list of chemical entities identified in this dietary supplement to possess pharmacological activity. This list does not imply that other, yet unidentified, constituents do not influence the pharmacological activity of this dietary supplement nor does it imply that any one constituent possesses greater influence on the overall pharmacological effect of this dietary supplement.[/span]

Introduction

Cat’s Claw, also known as Una de gato or “claw of the cat”, is one of the most promising herbs to come out of the rain forest to date. It has been used as a traditional medicine, possibly dating back as far as the Incan civilization. Cat’s Claw reportedly affects the immune system and acts as a antioxidant.(2) It has been researched in Europe over the last several years with many positive reports. It is of potential importance in immunity, cancer treatment and,GI inflammation.(2)

Interactions and Depletions

Interactions

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

Powdered  root bark: 250-1,000mg, 1-3 times daily.

For the 3% alkaloid and 15% total phenol extraction, 250-1000mg, 3 times a day.

For the 1.3% pentacyclic extraction product, 20mg, 2-3 times daily for the first 10 days and then 20mg daily thereafter.

For the 0.5% pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids (TOA free) product, 600-1800mg daily.

Decoction: 60 ml once daily in the morning on an empty stomach prepared from 30 gm herb with 800ml water reduced by heat to 500ml.(3)

Most Common Dosage

Powdered root bark: 500mg, 3 times daily.

For the 3% alkaloid and 15% total phenol extraction, 500mg, 3 times a day.

For the 1.3% pentacyclic extraction product, 20mg, 3 times daily for the first 10 days and then 20mg daily thereafter.

For the 0.5% pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids (TOA free) product, 600-1800mg daily.

Decoction: 60 ml once daily in the morning on an empty stomach prepared from 30 gm herb with 800ml water reduced by heat to 500ml.

Standardization

[span class=doc]Standardization represents the complete body of information and controls that serve to enhance the batch to batch consistency of a botanical product, including but not limited to the presence of a marker compound at a defined level or within a defined range.[/span]

The most current available medical and scientific literature indicates that this dietary supplement should be standardized to 3% alkaloids and 15% total phenols per dose.

An extract of Cat’s Claw from Europe containing only pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids (mainly isomitraphylline isolated from the root) may be more beneficial as an immune enhancing product than the standard mixture of pentacyclic and tetracyclic alkaloids. When the two chemotypes are mixed, immune enhancement may be decreased. This product should be standardized to not less than 1.3% pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids and not more than 0.06% tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids per dose.(4) Another standardization of 0.5% pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids (TOA free) has been reported beneficial in treating Lyme disease.

Uses

Frequently Reported Uses

  • Inflammatory conditions, including gastrointestinal and osteoarthritic
  • Immune support
  • Potential Benefit In Cancer Prevention And Support
  • Cardiovascular Support (Angioplasty, Angina, Bypass)
  • Ulcerative Colitis
Other Reported Uses
  • Antioxidant
  • Antiviral; antibacterial
  • Lyme disease (TOA free product)

Toxicities & Precautions

General

Cat's claw has been reported safe in recommended dosages, although there was one case report of renal failure in a 35 year old Peruvian women with systemic lupus erythematosus reportedly using 'cat's claw.' (5)

Health Conditions

Should not be taken by transplant recipients.(6)

Based on pharmacology, use with caution in individuals with bleeding disorders.(7)

Do not use in neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease. There was a case report of oral Cat’s Claw leading to reversible worsening of motor signs in a patient with Parkinson disease.(24)

Side Effects

Some people may develop diarrhea or notice changes in bowel movements. (8)

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

Based on animal data, do not use in pregnancy and lactation. (6)

Age Limitations

Do not use in children under 2 years of age unless recommended by a physician.

Pharmacology

Antiinflammatory/Antioxidant activity

Cat’s Claw contains glycosides, which reportedly reduce inflammation and edema.(9) A study found the use of Cat’s Claw superior to placebo in people with osteoarthritis of the knee. Again, TNF-alpha inhibition and PGE2 production were noted as being likely responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties.(11),(25) Other studies have noted protection against oxidative stress and inhibition of NF-kappaB activation.(12),(26) A small human double-blind study involving 40 patients with active rheumatoid arthritis were treated with Cat’s Claw. Patients experienced a reduction in the number of painful and swollen joints.(13) The anti-inflammatory effects of Cat’s Claw are considered to be due to the sum total of the plant’s constituents, but the sterols have demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity in animal studies.

Colon toxicity has been somewhat ignored in Western medicine. It is now becoming apparent that bowel hygiene and proper flora are essential to good health. If the colon flora is out of balance (dysbiosis) or if food is not being properly digested and assimilated, toxic metabolites and mutagens may be produced. Cat’s Claw is reported to have the ability to soothe irritated and inflamed tissues and help eliminate pathogens from the GI tract.(12)

Other potentially important components in Cat’s Claw are proanthocyanidins (PCOs).(7) PCOs are reported to be many times more powerful than vitamin C. They may reduce capillary fragility and inhibit platelet-activating factor (PAF), along with another phytochemical, rynchophylline, which may inhibit platelet aggregation and thrombus formation. Its anti-inflammatory activity, antiallergic (antihistaminic) activity, and edema reducing effects lead to the claim that Cat’s Claw may be beneficial in reducing cardiovascular risk factors.(7)

Immune modulation activity

Cat’s Claw is reported to help improve immune function in laboratory and clinical studies. The glycosides are reported to enhance and stimulate phagocytosis,.(14),(15),(27) Immune function has also been supported by a laboratory study where a Cat’s Claw water soluble extract demonstrated immune enhancement via elevation of the lymphocyte/neutrophil ratio and also, for the 5 months measured, a decrease in the decay rate of antibody titer responses to a pneumococcal vaccine.(16) Other laboratory studies have demonstrated stimulation of IL-1 and IL-6 production by rat macrophage.(17),(28) Isopteridine, an alkaloid which has been isolated, is claimed to have immuno-stimulatory properties. Triterpenoid alkaloids and quinovic acid glycosides have been isolated and studied for antiviral activity, possibly inhibiting replications of some DNA viruses.(18),(19) One of the isolated alkaloids has been used in some AIDS patients.(19)

A laboratory study found Cat’s Claw extract was effective against Enterobacteriaceae, S. mutans and Staphylococcus spp. isolates.(29)

Cancer activity

Laboratory studies have reported that Cat’s Claw extracts may be beneficial in cancer therapy.(2) Cat’s Claw is an antioxidant, which helps reduce carcinogenic toxin buildup and stimulates abnormal cell development. Research indicates that Cat’s Claw may be able to target mutagenic cells and inhibit their development, while not affecting the homeostasis of normal cells.(14) Other laboratory studies have evaluated the antitumor properties of Cat’s Claw in various cancer cells lines, including colorectal, breast, brain, leukemic and lymphoma cell lines.(29),(30),(31),(32) The investigators associated these properties with selective induction of apoptosis and antiproliferative effects.(20),(21)

It is generally agreed that the use of pentacyclic alkaloids (POAs) from Cat’s Claw root bark are the health promoting constituents. Tetracyclic alkaloids (TOAs) do occur in the root bark, but should be kept to a minimum in the final product as to maximize the health benefits of Cat’s Claw as a dietary supplement. Also, the total alkaloids in Cat’s Claw have demonstrated amnestic effects in mice.(22)

References

  1. View Abstract: Senatore A, et al. Phytochemical and Biological Study of Uncaria tomentosa. Boll Soc Ital Biol Sper. 1989;65(6):517-20.
  2. View Abstract: Aquino R, et al. Plant Metabolites. Structure and in Vitro Antiviral Activity of Quinovic Acid Glycosides from Uncaria tomentosa and Guettarda platypoda. J Nat Prod. 1989;52(4):679-85.
  3. Schauss AG. Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa). Nat Med J. 1998;1(2):16-19.
  4. Reinhard KH. Uncaria tomentosa (Willd.) D.C.: cat's claw, una de gato, or saventaro. J Altern Complement Med. Apr1999;5(2):143-51.
  5. View Abstract: Hilepo JN, Bellucci AG, Mossey RT. Acute renal failure caused by 'cat's claw' herbal remedy in a patient with systemic lupus erythematosus. Nephron. 1997;77(3):361.
  6. Haginiwa J, et al. Studies of Plants Containing Indole Alkaloids. 2. On the Alkaloids of Uncaria rhynchophylla Miq. Yakugaku Zasshi. 1973;93(4):448-42.
  7. View Abstract: de Matta SM, et al. Alkaloids and Procyanidins of An Uncaria sp. from Peru. Farmaco. (Sci). 1976;31(7):527-35.
  8. Immodal Pharmaka. Krallendorn, Uncaria tomentosa (Wild), Root Extract: Report on Experiences with Probands. Immodal Pharmaka GmbH. 1996;20.
  9. View Abstract: Aquino R, et al. Plant Metabolites. New Compounds and Anti-inflammatory Activity of Uncaria tomentosa. J Nat Prod. 1981;54(2):453-59.
  10. View Abstract: Sandoval M, Charbonnet RM, Okuhama NN, Roberts J, Krenova Z, Trentacosti AM, et al. Cat's claw inhibits TNFalpha production and scavenges free radicals: role in cytoprotection. Free Radic Biol Med. Jul2000;29(1):71-8.
  11. View Abstract: Piscoya J, Rodriguez Z, Bustamante SA, Okuhama NN, Miller MJ, Sandoval M. Efficacy and safety of freeze-dried cat's claw in osteoarthritis of the knee: mechanisms of action of the species Uncaria guianensis. Inflamm Res. Sep2001;50(9):442-8.
  12. View Abstract: Sandoval-Chacon M, Thompson JH, Zhang XJ, Liu X, Mannick EE, Sadowska-Krowicka H, et al. Antiinflammatory actions of cat's claw: the role of NF-kappaB. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. Dec1998;12(12):1279-89.
  13. View Abstract: Mur E, Hartig F, Eibl G, Schirmer M. Randomized double blind trial of an extract from the pentacyclic alkaloid-chemotype of uncaria tomentosa for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. J Rheumatol. Apr2002;29(4):678-81.
  14. Wagner H, et al. The Alkaloids of Uncaria tomentosa and Their Phagocytosis-stimulating Action. Planta Med. 1995;5:419-23.
  15. View Abstract: Sheng Y, Bryngelsson C, Pero RW. Enhanced DNA Repair, Immune Function and Reduced Toxicity of C-MED-100, A Novel Aqueous Extract From Uncaria tomentosa. J Ethnopharmacol. Feb2000;69(2):115-26.
  16. View Abstract: Lamm S, Sheng Y, Pero RW. Persistent response to pneumococcal vaccine in individuals supplemented with a novel water soluble extract of Uncaria tomentosa, C-Med-100. Phytomedicine. Jul2001;8(4):267-74.
  17. View Abstract: Lemaire I, Assinewe V, Cano P, Awang DV, Arnason JT. Stimulation of interleukin-1 and -6 production in alveolar macrophages by the neotropical liana, Uncaria tomentosa (una de gato). J Ethnopharmacol. Feb1999;64(2):109-15.
  18. Jones K. Cat’s Claw: Healing Vine of Peru. Seattle: Sylvan Press; 1995:48-49.
  19. View Abstract: Aquino R, et al. New Polyhydroxylated Triterpenes from Uncaria tomentosa. J Nat Prod. 1990;53(3): 559-64.
  20. View Abstract: Riva L, Coradini D, Di Fronzo G, De Feo V, De Tommasi N, De Simone F, Pizza C. The antiproliferative effects of Uncaria tomentosa extracts and fractions on the growth of breast cancer cell line. Anticancer Res. Jul2001;21(4A):2457-61.
  21. View Abstract: Sheng Y, Pero RW, Amiri A, Bryngelsson C. Induction of apoptosis and inhibition of proliferation in human tumor cells treated with extracts of Uncaria tomentosa. Anticancer Res. Sep1998;18(5A):3363-8.
  22. View Abstract: Mohamed AF, Matsumoto K, Tabata K, Takayama H, Kitajima M, Watanabe H. Effects of Uncaria tomentosa total alkaloid and its components on experimental amnesia in mice: elucidation using the passive avoidance test. J Pharm Pharmacol. Dec2000;52(12):1553-61.
  23. López Galera RM, Ribera Pascuet E, Esteban Mur JI, Montoro Ronsano JB, Juárez Giménez JC. Interaction between Cat’s Claw and protease inhibitors atazanavir, ritonavir and saquinavir. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. Dec 2008;64(12):1235-1236. Epub 2008 Aug 20. No abstract available.
  24. Cosentino C, Torres L. Reversible worsening of Parkinson disease motor symptoms after oral intake of Uncaria tomentosa (Cat’s Claw). Clin Neuropharmacol. Sep-Oct 2008;31(5):293-294.
  25. Hardin SR. Cat’s Claw: an Amazonian vine decreases inflammation in osteoarthritis. Complement Ther Clin Pract. Feb 2007;13(1):25-28. Epub 2006 Dec 13. Review.
  26. Allen-Hall L, Cano P, Arnason JT, Rojas R, Lock O, Lafrenie RM. Treatment of THP-1 cells with Uncaria tomentosa extracts differentially regulates the expression if IL-1beta and TNF-alpha. J Ethnopharmacol. 19 Jan 2007 ;109(2):312-317. Epub 2006 Aug 3.
  27. Groom SN, Johns T, Oldfield PR. The potency of immunomodulatory herbs may be primarily dependent upon macrophage activation. J Med Food. Mar 2007;10(1):73-79.
  28. Reiss ST, Vaente LM, Sampaio AL, et al. Immunomodulating and antiviral activities of Uncaria tomentosa on human monocytes infected with Dengue Virus-2. Int Immunopharmacol. Mar 2008;8(3):468-476. Epub 2007 Dec 26.
  29. Ccahuana-Vasquez RA, Santos SS, Koga-Ito CY, Jorge AO. Antimicrobial activity of Uncaria tomentosa against oral human pathogens. Braz Oral Res. Jan-Mar 2007;21(1):46-50.
  30. Pilarski R, Poczekaj-Kostrzewska M, Ciesiolka D, Szyfter K, Gulewicz K. Antiproliferative activity of various Uncaria tomentosa preparations on HL-60 promyelocytic leukemia cells. Pharmacol Rep. Sep-Oct 2007;59(5):565-572.
  31. Jo KJ, Cha MR, Lee MR, et al. Methanolic extracts of Uncaria rhynchophylla induce cytotoxicity and apoptosis in HT-29 human colon carcinoma cells. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. Jun 2008;63(2):77-82. Epub 2008 Apr 6.
  32. Garcia PE, Garcia GMD, De la Perta VR, et al. Antiproliferative effects of mitraphylline, a pentacyclic oxindole alkaloid of Uncaria tomentosa on human glioma and neuroblastoma cell lines. Phytomedicine. Apr 2007;14(4):280-284. Epub 2007 Feb 12.