Cat's claw (Uncaria tomentosa), is a species of vine found growing throughout the Amazon rainforest, with an incredible ability to improve the body's natural defence system and immunity. Cat's claw has become increasingly popular for this purpose, which has a positive effect over the bodies natural ability to recognise both infectious agents, as well as abnormal cells (such as cancer), and destroy them.
How does cat's claw work?
Cat's claw contains a slurry of chemicals, that each exert their own effects over the body. Some of these chemicals have been shown to stimulate the production of some of the main immune cells of the body including what are called “T-cells”, and “B-cells”. These important immune cells are responsible for recognizing, and attacking invading pathogens as well as cancer. They are classified under what we call the "adaptive immune system", which means they have the ability to change and react differently depending on what they are attacking so that they are able to kill it most effectively.
When our health is poor, these cells could be either underproduced, or too busy fighting other pathogens and infectious organisms throughout the body to notice some of the more stealthy diseases such as cancer of some viruses, and as a result these diseases may have an opportunity to spread throughout the body more easily. By using powerful immune herbs such as cat's claw to increase the amount of these defensive immune cells, the body's ability to defend itself and maintain overall health in times of stress or other poor health states.
Cats claw and cancer
Cancer develops from a mutation in the DNA of a cell during replication. This mutation results in a cell that cannot function normally which then continues to grow and divide, resulting in a clump of dysfunctional cells referred to as a tumor. over time these cells can spread and inhibit the normal functioning of the body, and eventually result in death if not stopped. The body has specific cells in place that wander around and look for these abnormal cells. Once discovered, they either deal with it themselves, or call in the bigger guns. Cats claw is useful in increasing the number of both the cells that discover these abnormal and mutaged cells, as well as the ones that are called in to destroy them. In this way, cancer is discovered quickly and eradicated quickly before it has a chance to spread throughout the body or cause any real harm.
Cats claw also decreases or inhibits the expression of some of the inflammatory triggering compounds found within the body. Some of which (NF-kB for example) are well known to be a contributing factor in the development of cancer. It should be noted that inflammation is a good thing in the short term, as it is the first step in healing damage within the body. Long ter, inflammation however, which is associated with poor lifestyle choices, and high stress for long periods of time, are no longer considered to have a healing effect within the body, but instead lead to such diseases as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. By controlling these chronic inflammatory marjkers, cats claw has the ability to promote general health and wellbeing, as well as offering a wide range of disease state preventions such as those mentioned earlier.
Cat's claw is one of the best herbs for cancer in a few different ways:
- As mentioned earlier it stimulates the part of our immune system responsible for recognising and destroying cancerous cells throughout our body.
- It is effectively combined with mainstream cancer therapies such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy to improve their effectiveness, and reduce chemotherapies side effects. It also improves neutrophil and other white blood cell numbers so that the chemotherapy treatments can go on for longer, and with more intensity in a safer manner.
- It provides anti inflammatory benefits that inhibit some of the inflammatory chemicals that are well known to play a factor in the development of cancer.
How to take cat's claw:
Most of the chemicals desired for their immune enhancing and cancer protective effects are water soluble. This means that when making an extract of this herb, a water based extraction is best.
Cat's claw can be taken as a strong tea, as is the most traditional method. To brew this tea, the bark must be very lightly simmered for 10-15 minutes in order to extract all of the beneficial ingredients locked away in the wood. Use about 8-10 grams and 2 cups of water. Simmer for about 15 minutes and consume. The tea can be re-brewed 2 or 3 times as well. You can find the raw herb in some health food stores, or contact TSE here.
2. Tincture or Fluid Extract
It can be taken as a tincture as well and added to any beverage you like or taken straight. Any good quality herbal extract company will be aware of the fact that most of the desired chemicals are soluble in water rather than alcohol and will design the extract as such. TSE makes an extract with this in mind which can be found here. With a standard 1:5 extract, a general tonic dose to maintain general health and vitality is between 1-2 ml, twice a day. If taking cat's claw along with chemotherapy, or to treat immunodeficiency, see your natural practitioner or contact Justin here.
3. Powdered herb or Capsule
Cat's claw can also be found as a powdered and encapsulated product as well, which is also an effective and convenient way to take this herb. The dose for encapsulated herbs range greatly depending on the concentration, so be sure to follow the directions on the label. Generally the dosage will be between 1- 2 g per day. Find Cats claw capsules from a reputable brand here.
For a much more in depth review of cats claw and its many medicinal uses, as well as the references used for this post, Go Here!
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