Discover one of the most studied herbal supplements: Cat’s Claw

February 1, 2021 | Jerry Black | | ,

As a woody vine with pairs of elliptical, symmetrical leaves using small, hooklike appendages resembling cats’ claws to hook onto neighboring plants and structures to support its growth, Uncaria tomentosa enjoys shady and protected areas of Amazonian forests.1  Many studies have been conducted because of the long history of use by indigenous people as a wellness herb. Positive studies about the potential of Cat’s Claw to for use in wellness products have made it popular with a reported 700 tons of cats claw barks being extracted from the amazon annually. Years ago we harvested cats claw from the wild. Today, all the Cat’s Claw we harvest is derived from vines that have been sustainably replanted under the forest canopy in a semi-wild growing condition.

Where is Cat’s Claw found?

Cat’s Claw, also known as “Una de gato,” is the common name for Uncaria tomentosa.  Uncaria botanicals are part of the larger family of Rubiaceae plants, which includes coffee, kratom and chacruna, commonly found in tropical regions of Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America.  Uncaria tomentosa specifically is only found in Central and South America.2  Cat’s claw vines can grow up to nearly 100 feet tall.3

How has Cat’s Claw been traditionally used?

Cat’s Claw / Una de GatoLegend has it that it has traditionally been one of the most important botanicals to the Ashaninka people of the Peruvian rainforest.  Ashaninka priests used Cat’s Claw to influence the communication between the physical and spiritual dimensions of human beings.

However, its use extended beyond the spiritual to the medicinal.  For thousands of years, Peruvians have used Cat’s Claw for dozen of complaints.4

What are the constituents of Una de Gato that may serve as a wellness tonic?

Significant phytochemicals in Uncaria tomentosa include:5

  • Oxindole and indole alkaloids
  • Glycosides
  • Organic acids
  • Proanthocyanidins
  • Sterols, and
  • Triterpenes

According to Mount Sinai, “Cat’s claw contains many types of plant chemicals”.6

Can Cat’s Claw help keep our mind feeling fresh?

Maybe.  A group of scientists completed a study in 2019 where they concluded that yes, it might contain constituents that reduce what they term as “brain tangles.”  According to their study, PTI-00703, the technical name of Cat’s Claw or Uncaria tomentosa, “7

Will Una de Gato help?

If you suffer from a health condition, you should always consult with a medical professional to determine the best course of remediation.

If you’re looking for an herbal supplement that may provide you with overall general health support, Cat’s Claw may be for you.

Ready to add Cat’s Claw to Your Daily Regimen?

While Amazonian people have made teas from Cat’s Claw bark and root for thousands of years, Herbs-America makes it even easier for you to add Una de Gato to your daily diet.  Pure Cat’s Claw is available from our online store in three forms:  our regular liquid extract, our organic liquid extract, and as cut and sifted bark ready to make into an infused tea.  Cat’s claw is also available as a blended supplement as Codizone for muscle wellness, Maytenol for healthy inflammatory response, and Tranquil Ability to promote a restful state.

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Adverse Effects, Contraindications, and Drug Interactions
Side effects reported for cat’s claw in clinical trials are mild; slight gastrointestinal upset, dizziness, and headache have been reported, but were not significantly different from placebo groups. If cat’s claw is ingested as a tea or crude extract, its bitterness may cause mild nausea.

Most authorities recommend against using cat’s claw in autoimmune diseases due to its immunomodulating activities. Similarly, cat’s claw should be avoided in patients with pending organ transplantation or skin grafts, or during immunosuppressive therapy. Caution should be exercised in patients taking antihypertensives due to the fact that some of the phytochemicals in cat’s claw have known to lower blood pressure due to hypotensive activity. Cat’s claw should be avoided during pregnancy.
Its use should be avoided during breast feeding and for young children.


  1. Hughes, Kerry and Tony Worth, “Cat’s Claw,” New Crop FactSHEET, Purdue University Center for New Crops and Plants Products, 1999.  https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/CropFactSheets/catsclaw.html#:~:text=Cat’s%20claw%20has%20been%20reported,been%20reported%20to%20grow%20naturally. 

  2. Heitzman, Mary, et. al., “Ethnobotany, phytochemistry, and pharmacology of Uncaria (Rubiaceae).” Phytochemistry 66 (2005) 5-29, ScienceDirect, published online at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031942204005552 

  3. Brown, PhD, RD, Mary Jane. “Cat’s Claw: Benefits, Side Effects, and Dosage,” Healthline, January 31, 2019, published online at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cats-claw#1 

  4. Heitzman, Mary, et. al., “Ethnobotany, phytochemistry, and pharmacology of Uncaria (Rubiaceae).” Phytochemistry 66 (2005) 5-29, ScienceDirect, published online at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031942204005552 

  5. Dr. Duke’s Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases, “Uncaria tomentosa (Pedaliaceae),” published online at https://phytochem.nal.usda.gov/phytochem/plants/show/2064 

  6. Cat’s Claw, IMount Sinai Health Library, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.  Published online at: https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/herb/cats-claw 

  7. Snow AD, Castillo GM, Nguyen BP, et al. The Amazon rain forest plant Uncaria tomentosa (cat’s claw) and its specific proanthocyanidin constituents are potent inhibitors and reducers of both brain plaques and tangles. Sci Rep. 2019;9(1):561. Published 2019 Feb 6. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-38645-0 

  • *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.*

  • CAUTIONS: Information provided should not be used as medical advice. Not intended for long term use. Not intended for pregnant or nursing women. Keep out of reach of children.

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