Its name was derived from its hook-like thorns that grow along the vine and resemble the claws of a cat. These features enable the vine to attach itself around trees climbing to a height up to 100 feet. The leaves are elliptic with a smooth edge, and grow in opposite whorls of two. The root which can develop to the size of a watermelon, and the inside of the bark have traditionally been used in herbal remedies.
Cat’s claw has several groups of active components that account for much of the plant’s actions and uses. These include oxindole alkaloids (rhynchophylline, alloptropodine, alloisopteropodine, isopteropodine, and uncarine), quinovic acid, triterpenes, polyphenols, proanthocyanidins, phytosterols (beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, and campesterol), and catechin tannins.
The major alkaloid rhynchophylline has demonstrated to prevent blood clots in blood vessels, dilate peripheral blood vessels, lower the heart rate, and lower blood levels of cholesterol. These compounds possess immune augmenting, anti-microbial, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-ulcer, and anti-oxidant and adaptogen properties.
The oxindole alkaloids from the root bark of cat’s claw are considered to invoke its most widely sought-after medicinal effects as a treatment of inflammatory disorders. The anti-inflammatory activity was assessed through in vitro process and animal studies.
These Amazon rainforest herbs are considered valuable medicinal resources and are protected in Peru. Cat’s Claw extract is usually made from the plant’s inner bark and root.
Cat’s Claw is considered to be an excellent immune system booster, a dynamic antioxidant but the mechanism of action of these rainforest herbs has not been well established. There are claims made by some analysts appears to be that these unique alkaloids are responsible for the ability of the plant to treat cancer and to inhibit viral infections.
The immune-stimulating properties of cat’s claw allow to fight infections and increase speed rate at which the immune system get rid of cold viruses, and act against bacteria related with both gastritis and peptic ulcers. These plant chemicals are said to have an ability to stimulate the activity of T cells, a type of white blood cells which can hunt down and act against virus-infected cells and tumor cells.
Cat’s Claw herb is available commercially and can be purchased as a supplement in many different dosage forms. These include: capsules, tinctures, tablets, and extracts usually standardized to 4 percent alkaloid content for effective results. Although it appears to be a powerful herb, it is still really important to consider its side effects and the possible adverse and allergic reactions.