Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cat's Claw: Nature's Powerhouse Plant

After a friend brought me back a salve made from Cat's Claw that she had purchased in Bolivia, I became fascinated by the plant. Putting it on my aching neck, I felt an almost instant relief from pain, which was quite different from the slower results I'd gotten from other ointments. Used mostly in tea and tincture form, I have been fascinated by the research I've done on what is called the "sacred herb of the rain forest."

Cat's Claw, otherwise known as Uncaria Tomentosa or the commonly used Spanish name, Una de Gato, was used by the ancient Incas and continues to be an important remedy throughout South America. The Askanika Indians of Peru use the plant as a sacred beverage, as well as a cleansing tonic for problems having to do with the immune system and intestinal tract. Known as a warming plant, it is excellent for healing inflammations such as gastritis, arthritis, bursitis, rheumatism, asthma, gout, and urinary tract complications. It is additionally used to help heal gastric ulcers, colitis, diverticulitis, herpes, menstrual irregularities, viral infections, allergies, Chron's disease, and leaky bowel syndrome. Some South American tribes also use Cat's Claw for treating dysentery and gonorrhea.

Cat's Claw is a tropical vine that grows in the jungle and rain forests that range throughout South America and Asia. It has a yellow or pink flower and sports thorns around the stem, allowing the plant to cling to trees where it can grow up to 100 feet tall. It is protected in Peru and Bolivia where it has been used for centuries due to its potent alkaloid and phytochemical content.

For Viral Conditions
Cat's Claw is an adaptogenic and anti-microbial plant that contains tannins and other phytochemicals that give it its essential antioxidant properties. The strong presence of alkaloids as a part of the plant's chemical makeup helps with the increased production of leukocytes or white blood cells, especially T4 leukocytes so important to blocking and stopping many viral diseases in their early stages, such as HIV. These components also help to decrease tumors and cysts, as well as increase energy and stamina in those suffering from exhaustion due to overactive physical or mental activity.

For the Immune System
Because it protects cells from free radical damage, Cat's Claw shows promise in strengthening the immune system and promoting longevity as well as fighting diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, and prostate conditions. Because it contains rhynchophylline, one of the major alkaloids that works against hypertension, it also has considerable effect on lowering blood pressure, increasing circulation, and controlling cholesterol levels, making it a strong choice for reducing the possibility of stroke and heart attacks. Due to its ability to protect the body from pain, Cat's Claw is also used in conjunction with chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and AZT protocols. 

For the Intestinal Tract
The leading herbalist and Chiropractic physician, Dr. Brent Davis calls Cat's Claw the "opener of the way" due to its ability to detoxify the intestinal tract. He tested the plant on a number of patients suffering from hemorrhoids, gastritis, ulcers, parasites, fistulas, and leaky bowel syndrome and found that it was powerfully effective in ridding the body of infections that lead to these problems. His studies conclude that Cat's Claw is effective in helping to heal problems associated with the liver, spleen, kidneys, thymus, and thyroid due to its inherent healing properties.

Further Studies on Cat's Claw
Ever since the 1970's, Cat's Claw has been clinically studied in Peru, England, Italy, Germany, Austria, and Hungary for its powerful properties. Claims that the plant is even more potent than Golden Seal, Echinacea, Siberian Ginseng, Astralagus, and Reishi mushrooms have been made by many researchers, and a recent article in Newsweek Magazine praises Cat's Claw as one of "nature's biggest sellers." 

In a book entitled "The Saga of the Cat's Claw," by neurologist and neurosurgeon Dr. Fernando Cabieses, he analyzes and explains his extensive experiments with the plant, revealing its powerful medicinal properties. 

An excerpt from the book, "Powerful and Unusual Herbs from the Amazon and China," published by the World Preservation Society states: "Una de Gato from the Peruvian rain forest is a favorite for stimulating the immune system. World wide research done on this powerful herb has led scientists to patent many of the single chemicals found in it for use in healing cancer, arthritis, AIDS, and other diseases. However, traditional wisdom shows that using the whole plant can be far more powerful than any one isolated ingredient."

Because Cat's Claw exhibits so much potential for healing the body, it is the subject of many trials and studies regarding its relationship to positively affecting AIDs, HIV, and Alzheimer's, among many other life-threatening diseases.  As an overall tonic, the plant proves to be excellent in fortifying the internal system with no or very few side effects. This being said, it is important that you discuss taking Cat's Claw with your healthcare provider, as there may be counter-indications if you are pregnant, take specific medications or suffer from particular ailments that may not respond well to the plant.

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