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.
This herb has become increasingly popular for this purpose, which has a positive effect over the bodies natural ability to recognize both infectious agents, as well as abnormal cells (such as cancer), and destroy them.
Here, we’ll go over what cat’s claw is, and how it’s being used as an adjunctive to cancer therapy.
How Does Cat's Claw Work?
Cat's claw contains a slurry of chemicals, that each exerts their own effects over the body.
Some of these chemicals have been shown to stimulate the production of some of the primary 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're classified under what we call the "adaptive immune system," which means they can change and react differently depending on what they are attacking so that they are able to kill it most effectively.
When we have poor health, 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 efficiently.
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 & 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.
Cat's claw is useful for increasing the number of both the cells that discover these abnormal and mutated cells, as well as the ones that are called in to destroy them.
In this way, cancer is detected quickly and eradicated faster 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-term, inflammation, however, which is associated with poor lifestyle choices, and high stress for long periods, 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 markers, cats claw can promote general health and wellbeing, as well as offering a wide range of disease state preventions such as those mentioned earlier.
How Cat’s Claw Supports Cancer Recovery
As mentioned earlier it stimulates the part of our immune system responsible for recognizing 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 enhances neutrophil and other white blood cell numbers so that the chemotherapy treatments can go on for longer, and with more intensity more safely.
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.
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.
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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Recent Blog Posts:
Araújo, S., do Carmo, M., Farias, I. L., Gutierres, J., Dalmora, S. L., Flores, N., ... & Chitolina Schetinger, M. R. (2012). Uncaria tomentosa—adjuvant treatment for breast cancer: clinical trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012.
Riva, L., Coradini, D., Di, G. F., De, V. F., De, N. T., De, F. S., & Pizza, C. (2001). The antiproliferative effects of Uncaria tomentosa extracts and fractions on the growth of breast cancer cell line. Anticancer Research, 21(4A), 2457-2461.
National Cancer Institute (NCI), “Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events v. 3.0 (CTCAE),” http://ctep.cancer .gov/protocolDevelopment/electronic applications/docs/ctca- ev3.pdf.
García Giménez, M. D., García Prado, E., Sáenz Rodríguez, M. T., Fernández Arche, M. D. L. Á., & Puerta Vázquez-Zafra, R. D. L. (2010). Cytotoxic effect of the pentacyclic oxindole alkaloid mitraphylline isolated from Uncaria tomentosa bark on human Ewing's sarcoma and breast cancer cell lines. Planta Medica, 76, 133-136.