My family and I have been sick (fungal infection) for the toxic effects of mold for the last five years due to living in a home we rented for five years that was seriously infected by toxic mold. In researching natural treatment methods to help treat and cure our illnesses, I have found that there are various natural anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant herbal supplements, vitamins and minerals for nutrition that we can take daily to help us as part of our health protocol.
One of these herbal supplements that I would like to share with you is called “Cat’s Claw.” Also known by its Latin names Uncaria tomentosa and Uncaria guianensis and commonly known as Uila de Gato in Spanish and “Cats Claw” in English.
Studies prove that the anti-inflammatory, antifungal, toxin-fighting, immune building and DNA repairing properties of this herb are phenomenal. It has been successfully used to treat many medical conditions such as fungal infections, cancer, herpes, arthritis, ulcers, and digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, and leaky gut syndrome with virtually no side effects. There are many scientific studies that substantiate these claims which I will list in this article.
Dr. Donna Schwontkowski had written in her book, Herbs of the Amazon – Traditional and Common Uses, “Una de Gato is considered one of the most important botanicals in the rain forest. In Peru, Una de Gato tea is used as a medicinal herb with almost unlimited curative properties. This herb is a powerful cellular rejuvenator.
It has been used for the treatment of gastritis (inflammation of the stomach), ulcers, cancer, arthritis, rheumatism, irregularities of the female cycle, and acne. It is also used to treat organic depression. External applications of Una de Gato include the treatment of wounds, fungus, fistulas and hemorrhoids. European research shows that Una de Gato activates the immune system by increasing lymphocytic (white blood cell) activity.”
What is Cat’s Claw?
Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is a medicinal plant that is native to the Amazon River basin, with a history of medicinal use for inflammatory conditions. The Asháninkas, indigenous people of Peru, have used it for thousands of years to restore health. It is made from the root and bark of the cat’s claw vine that can reach as high as 100 feet. It grows mostly in the Amazon rainforest, and also in tropical areas in South and Central America. In the U.S., we get most of ours from Peru.
Cat’s claw contains many types of plant chemicals that help reduce inflammation, such as tannins and sterols, and fight various pathogens and viruses, such as quinovic acid glycosides. Two active compound groups, alkaloids and flavanols, are the magic healing properties of this plant.
The most attention was given to the oxindole alkaloids found in the bark and roots of Cats Claw, which have been documented to stimulate the immune system. It is these seven different alkaloids that are credited with having a variety of different medicinal and healing properties.
As with any medicinal plant, the healing properties of the root and bark may depend on what time of year the plant was harvested
One of the main symptoms that people suffer from who have been exposed to toxic mold is chronic inflammation. It has been well documented by various studies and mold experts that mycotoxins and the acidic and carbon excretions from mold cause lung inflammation, gastrointestinal tract inflammation, brain inflammation, and chronic sinusitis, which is an inflammation of the membranes of the nose and sinus cavity to name a few.
According to one of the world’s premiere medical mold experts, Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), is the result of chronic inflammation produced by exposure to biotoxins (toxins produced from living organisms) that come from mold (mycotoxins). These biotoxins travel through the body distressing immunity, joints, the nervous system, and more.
This is where Cat’s Claw comes to the rescue!
Researchers documented the antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties of cat’s claw, Uncaria tomentosa (UT) and Uncaria guianensis (UG) in a 2002 study. The results indicated that while both species of cat’s claw provide effective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, U. guianensis is more potent.(1)
A 2006 study titled, A water soluble extract from Uncaria tomentosa (Cat’s Claw) is a potent enhancer of DNA repair in primary organ cultures of human skin, had shown that it possess a broad spectrum of biological activity including DNA repair enhancement and anti-inflammatory properties.
In test subjects with osteoarthritis of the knee, a comprehensive study was undertaken to determine the adverse-effect, pain, medical, and subject-assessment scores of patients who took a purified extract of the herb. The researchers noted that subjective assessment scores were “significantly” reduced within 1 week of therapy.(2)
In another study, an extract of Uncaria tomentosa was given to patients with active rheumatoid arthritis and who were undergoing sulfasalazine or hydroxychloroquine treatment in a 52-week, two-phase study. Twenty-four (24) weeks of treatment with the cat’s claw extract resulted in a decreased amount of painful joints in treated subjects compared to those who were on a placebo. The researchers concluded that cat’s claw is emerging as an effective botanical medicine that can be used for treating various inflammatory states and conditions, producing positive effects and few side-effects. (3)
Helps With Stomach and Gastrointestinal Problems
Dr. Brent Davis researched the medicinal properties of Cat’s Claw since 1988. After four years in working with 150 patients, Dr. Davis described the plant as “the opener of the way” because “Uncaria tomentosa has the ability to break through severe intestinal derangements that no other available products can touch.”
He found that it had the ability to cleanse the entire intestinal tract and help patients suffering from many different stomach and bowel disorders including leaky bowel syndrome. irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids. fistulas. gastritis, ulcers, parasites and intestinal flora imbalance.
Davis calls cat’s claw “a world class herb which has the power to arrest and reverse deep-seated pathology allowing a more rapid return to health.”
He concluded, “I took six weeks to attend the International Congress on Traditional Medicines in Peru, and to do long awaited herbal research in Brazil. Many of the presenters at the congress on traditional medicines were holistic medical physicians who had used herbs in clinical practice for years. UDG was discussed as one of about a dozen herbs which are used consistently to cure cancer and other serious disorders.
Since 1988 I have been clinically evaluating many of the great South American herbs mentioned at the congress (and from other avenues as well) in terms of their applications in general practice – not for their oncolytic properties. In some profoundly important areas, Uncaria tomentosa stands out above many others.”(4)
Strengthen Your Immune System
When you are exposed to toxic mold, your immune system can become taxed and for many people who have prolonged exposure, their immune systems will not function properly and for some people, not at all. This is where Cat’s Claw can help.
In a 1989 study by Austrian scientist Klaus Keplinger, found that several alkaloid oxidants found in the plant’s roots showed an ability to stimulate the immune system. According to Dr. Donna Schwontkowski, D.C., cat’s claw the most powerful immune-enhancer of all the herbs native to the Peruvian Amazon. Dr. Satya Ambrose, N. D., found that it seems to enhance overall immunity while increasing stamina and energy in patients who suffer from physical and mental exhaustion due to an overactive or stressful lifestyle.
The oxindole alkaloids found in the bark and roots of Cats Claw stimulate the immune system. The most immunologically active alkaloid is believed to be Isopteropodin (Isomer A), which increases the immune response in the body and act as antioxidants to clean out your body of free radicals.
A 2005 study titled, Antioxidant properties of proanthocyanidins of Uncaria tomentosa bark decoction: a mechanism for anti-inflammatory activity, had shown the paln’ts potent radical scavenger activity. The researchers found that it has a high capacity to reduce the free radical diphenylpicrylhydrazyl, and by its reaction with superoxide anion, peroxyl and hydroxyl radicals as well as with the oxidant species, hydrogen peroxide and hypochlorous acid.
It also protected membrane lipids against peroxidation induced by the iron/ascorbate system, as evaluated by the formation of thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances (TBARs). The decoction phenolic profile was established by chromatographic analysis (HPLC/DAD and TLC) revealing essentially the presence of proanthocyanidins (oligomeric procyanidins) and phenolic acids, mainly caffeic acid. Thus, our results provide evidence for an antioxidant mechanism underlying the anti-inflammatory activity of cat’s claw and support some of the biological effects of proanthocyanidins, more exactly its antioxidant and radical scavenging activities.(5)
Repairs Your DNA and Reduces Cell Death
In a 2006 study, researchers found Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa) water extracts, essentially free of oxindole alkaloids, have been shown to possess a broad spectrum of biological activity including DNA repair enhancement and anti-inflammatory properties. These two biological mechanisms are key molecular targets to develop treatments that protect skin exposed to ultraviolet light from the sun.
Because C-Med-100, a Cat’s Claw water extract, is the only documented natural source of components that can up-regulate simultaneously both DNA repair and antiinflammation, its ability to modulate DNA repair in human skin organ cultures was undertaken. The data clearly demonstrated that co-incubation with C-Med-100 reduced skin cell death from UV exposure, and this protection was accounted for by a concomitant increase in DNA repair. (6)
Researchers found in a 2011 study that Uncaria tomentosa has antioxidant activity and works as an agent to repair DNA damage. It causes different effects on cell proliferation depending on the cell type involved; specifically, it can stimulate the proliferation of myeloid progenitors and cause apoptosis of neoplastic cells.
The researchers concluded, that Uncaria tomentosa had a positive effect on myeloid progenitor number and is promising for use with chemotherapy to minimize the adverse effects of this treatment. These results support the belief of the Asháninkas, who have classified Uncaria tomentosa as a ‘powerful plant’.(7)
Reduces Tumors and Fights Cancer
Last but not least, Cat’s Claw gives great hope to cancer patients. A 1998 study had proven the growth inhibitory activities of novel water extracts of Uncaria tomentosa (C-Med-100) were examined in vitro using two human leukemic cell lines (K562 and HL60) and one human EBV-transformed B lymphoma cell line (Raji).
The suppressive effect of Uncaria tomentosa extracts on tumor cell growth appears to be mediated through induction of apoptosis which was demonstrated by characteristic morphological changes, internucleosomal DNA fragmentation after agarose gel electrophoresis and DNA fragmentation quantification. The researcher concluded that these results provide the first direct evidence for the antitumor properties of Uncaria tomentosa extracts to be via a mechanism of selective induction of apoptosis.(8)
The recommended dosage of the standardized extract: 500-1,000 mg, 3 times a day, for inflammation and antibacterial or antifungal activity.
Dr. Brent Davis recommends the following, “UDG wood is administered as a tea, or in tablets, in the amount of 3 to 25 grams per day, or that equivalent if a concentrate is used. Sensitive individuals may require less than 3 g.”
“I generally do not use over 5 grams per day – more commonly 3 grams/day. One phase of treatment normally lasts 10-14 days. Then other formulations can be used, cycling back to UDG in tough cases in perhaps 7-10 days. Individuals who treat advanced stages of pathology might routinely use between 10-20 grams per day for several weeks at a time.”
- PubMed: Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities of cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa and Uncaria guianensis) are independent of their alkaloid content.
- PubMed: A water soluble extract from Uncaria tomentosa (Cat’s Claw) is a potent enhancer of DNA repair in primary organ cultures of human skin.
- PubMed: Randomized double blind trial of an extract from the pentacyclic alkaloid-chemotype of uncaria tomentosa for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
- A “New” World Class Herb for A.K. Practice: Uncaria tomentosa – a.k.a. Una de Gato (UDG)
- Antioxidant properties of proanthocyanidins of Uncaria tomentosa bark decoction: a mechanism for anti-inflammatory activity.
- A water soluble extract from Uncaria tomentosa (Cat’s Claw) is a potent enhancer of DNA repair in primary organ cultures of human skin.
- PubMed: Uncaria tomentosa stimulates the proliferation of myeloid progenitor cells.
- Induction of apoptosis and inhibition of proliferation in human tumor cells treated with extracts of Uncaria tomentosa.