Cats claw is a large woody vine with small thorns at the base of the leaves. These thorns resemble the claws of a cat a fact that has given rise to its name. The thorns help the vine to attach itself to neighboring trees and climb up to heights of 100 feet. Cats claw is grown mainly in the Amazon rain forests, tropical and jungle areas of South and Central America, and in parts of Asia. Countries where the Cats claw vine is found include Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Trinidad, Venezuela, Suriname, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Panama. Peru has recognized cats claw as a valuable medicinal resource and given it protected status.
Cats claw has a long history of use that extends to over 2000 years in central Peru and other South American countries. Recent research has confirmed many traditional beliefs and uses. Traditionally Cats claw herb has been in use to treat a variety of diseases including asthma, arthritis, rheumatism, bone pain, urinary tract inflammation, gastric ulcers, hemorrhages, irregular menstrual cycles, cirrhosis, abscesses, diabetes, tumors and cancer. Cats claw herb has also been used to heal deep wounds, and to help in recovering from childbirth. Some tribes have also been known to use the Cats claw herb as a contraceptive, though this seems to require a very large dosage.
The use of Cats claw since the 1990s as an adjunctive treatment for cancer and AIDS shows its acceptance by modern systems of medicine as a serious contender in strengthening the immune system. In combination with AZT, Cats claw has been used in clinical studies of possible treatments for AIDS. Apart from cancer and AIDS, the herb’s immune stimulating effects have made it useful in preventing strokes and heart attacks, reducing blood clots, and for treating irritable bowel syndrome.
Cats claw contains many groups of plant chemicals that account for its curative properties. These include oxidole alkaloids that are responsible for its antileukemic and immune stimulant properties. Other groups of chemicals and compounds are responsible for its anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. A third group of compounds known as carboxyl alkyl esters contribute to its anti-cancerous and cell-repairing properties.
Medical researchers worldwide are very interested in studying Cats claw. The interest in Cats claw herb, which contains several groups of chemicals and compounds that bestow it with many curative properties, was natural, and has resulted in the preparation and marketing of several Cats claw extracts in many European countries. Patent applications in the US are pending for extraction methods of immunity strengthening drugs from Cats claw. With more researchers joining in from Spain, France, Japan, Germany, and Peru, the curative properties of this herb appear to have gained overwhelming acceptance by modern medical practitioners.
The inner bark and roots of Cats claw are used for the preparation of medicines. Cats claw is available to the consumer in the form of capsules and tincture. Cats claw tincture is made by extracting the vine in 45% alcohol and distilled water, it is taken under the tongue or mixed with juice or water. It is recommended to use 60 ml of tincture twice per day, or as required.