Information on Cat's Claw

Latin NameUncaria tomentosa
Part UsedInner Bark
Herb FormsTincture, capsule, bulk herb.
AffectsImmune system
CautionsNone known.
Botanical InfoA stout vine with sharp, curved thorns along the stems. The vine clambers up into the canopies of tropical rainforests.
DescriptionCat's claw is a widespread vine growing in the Amazon. There is little traditional use information available--it was apparently not widely used by native peoples, except in a very small area of Peru. Austrian researchers became interested in the herb in the late 1970s when they heard a report that it miraculously cured a case of advanced cancer. A number of constituents have been isolated and identified, but little pharmacological or clinical research has been performed on the herb. Preliminary scientific studies have shown it to have immune-stimulating and anti-inflammatory properties. Cat's claw is being touted by some companies in the U.S. herb industry as a "cure-all," similar to the South American herbs Suma (Pfaffia paniculata) and Pau d'arco (Tabebuia spp.). The herb may be effective for some ailments, but it needs more research before a definitive statement about its exact applications and contraindications can be made.
It is currently being touted as a benefit to HIV patients by some herbal practitioners who have used it. It is also being used as an aid to help relieve the symptoms of dermatological disorders (dermatitis, acne), allergies, arthritis, inflammatory bowel syndromes (irritable bowel syndrome), herpes, and most of all cancer.

Cat's claw has a taste of and a temperature of COOL.


Decoction1 cup 2-3 x daily
Capsules2 capsules, 2-3 x daily

Ailments Treated by Cat's Claw

AilmentTreatment SupportApplication
Cancerimmune stimulanttincture, tea, capsule


McGuffin, M. et al. 1997. Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton: CRC Press.