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Cat's Claw

Catís claw (Uncaria tomentosa or U. guianensis [Latin]), also known as uŮa de gato, is a climbing vine native to the Peru and Brazil. It has been used in traditional South American medicine for many years to treat infections, arthritis, and gastrointestinal disorders.

Catís claw has only recently begun to be the subject of serious scientific study, but initial results of recent studies performed in Asia, Europe and North America are promising, indicating that the herb actually reduces inflammation, stimulates the immune system, kills viruses, and helps protect against heart disease. Catís claw may one day prove to be effective in treating HIV/AIDS and certain cancers.

Catís claw is a proven anti-inflammatory. Numerous studies have shown that catís claw stimulates white blood cells to fight infection, and one Italian study showed that catís claw actually reduced the ability of two viruses to cause infection. Catís claw may get its infection- and inflammation-fighting abilities from its many phytochemicals, which act medicinally in the body. Quinovic acid glycosides cool inflammation, and oxyindole alkaloids and proanthocyanidins strengthen the immune system.

Catís claw also contains sterols, which are chemical compounds that act like steroids in the body, which seems to support the traditional use of catís claw to treat arthritis. Studies of animals given catís claw have found that this herb reduces swelling by approximately 50 percent.

Catís claw may help detoxify the intestinal tract and replenish friendly bacteria in the intestines, which, along with its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effects, can be helpful to those suffering from some gastrointestinal disorders, particularly those caused by inflammation. One study performed at Shanghai College of Traditional Chinese found that catís claw reduced cholesterol and blood pressure, and helped inhibit the formation of arterial plaque deposits and blood clots that trigger heart attacks and most strokes.

Some of the most encouraging research concerns catís clawís possible use as a treatment for cancerous tumors. Initial studies at the National Caner Institute found evidence of catís clawís anti-tumor effects. Catís claw may also help treat cancer patients by improving the outcomes of chemotherapy; itís been theorized that catís clawís immune-boosting and antioxidant properties could help the body eliminate toxins caused by chemotherapy and radiation.

Catís claw is available in capsule or tincture forms. In Australia and Germany, catís claw preparations are sold only by prescription. Although there are no reports of toxic overdose in people taking catís claw, this medication is relatively new to scientific study, and it is not yet known how this herb may interact with other herbs or prescription medications. People who take insulin for diabetes, pregnant women, and nursing mothers should not take this herb. Anyone with a serious medical condition should consult a physician before taking this or any other herbal supplement.

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