Una de Gato – Claw of the Cat!
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on December 2, 2011 by Paulina Nelega, RH
So named for its hooked thorns that remarkably resemble a cat’s claw, this South American vine has traditionally been used for its exceptional anti-inflammatory and rejuvenative properties.
Cat’s Claw is one of our best-loved herbs for joint inflammation, especially that associated with rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, conditions which have an autoimmune component to them. This is where our immune system fails to recognize our own self as ‘self’ and, instead, starts to treat it as ‘non-self,’ and mounts an immune defense against what it perceives to be ‘foreign.’ This results in inflammation and, eventually, can lead to destruction of our own tissues.
Cat’s Claw has been shown to decrease Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF), an inflammatory compound produced by our white blood cells during their (auto)immune response. Reducing TNF can help to effectively limit the inflammation, pain, and tissue damage that might otherwise occur.
Cat’s Claw is also a superb adaptogen, an herb which helps our body to better withstand stress – any kind of stress, be it physical, emotional, mental, or environmental. Other examples of adaptogens include the Ginsengs (Asian, American), Eleuthero, Maca, Reishi (mushroom), and Rhodiola, to name a few.
For energizing rejuvenation, protection against the effects of stress, and immune support including protection from immune-mediated joint inflammation, consider Una de Gato (Cat’s Claw, Uncaria tomentosa), from the jungles of South America.
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Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan