Library of Nature: Cat’s Claw - Organic Cat’s Claw and its Benefits
Do you know that there's a plant bearing the sweet name "cat's claw", with astonishing therapeutic and medicinal properties? If not, then you've come to the right place. This one-of-a-kind plant has been used since antiquity in traditional medicine for various health conditions. Today, it is worldwide and has been the subject of many scientific studies that uncovered its numerous benefits for the body.
Here's what you need to know about the benefits of Cat's Claw.
What is Cat’s Claw?
Cat's Claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is the name of a species of vine native to Peru and, more generally, to Latin America. It is a vine belonging to the Rubiaceae family. Commonly known as the “Peruvian creeper,” the cat's claw received its name from the curved small stipules at the base of its leaves that look like claws.
Cat's Claw is used in herbal medicines to alleviate the symptoms of different conditions such as relieving joint pain and strengthening the immune system.
The Composition of the Cat's Claw
Cat's claw is a plant whose leaves, roots, and bark are generally used in herbal medicine, Cat’s Claw tincture or capsules. The composition of nutritional elements and active ingredients of Cat's Claw is still the subject of research. However, scientists have already demonstrated the presence of the main specific compounds in this plant: alkaloids, polyphenols, phytosterols, and triterpenes.
They agree on the presence of about 50 alkaloids divided mainly into two groups POA (pentacyclic) which would be mainly responsible for the therapeutic activity of the plant and TOA (tetracyclic).
In the bark, the content of total alkaloids ranges between 0.3 and 2.6% m/m with a clear predominance of POAs (between 0.06 and 2.58% m/m against 0.001 to 1% m /m for TOAs).
The latest research demonstrates the presence of 32 different polyphenols (flavonoids and non-flavonoids) in Cat's Claw. These polyphenols have a convincing and proven antioxidant activity, which is particularly the case for procyanidin and proanthocyanidins. Polyphenols also have protective properties for the cardiovascular system (reduced vessel permeability, vasodilators).
Virtues and Benefits of Cat's Claw
Cat's Claw has 3 major beneficial properties:
- anti-inflammatory effects
It boosts certain components of the immune system, justifying its traditional use in bacterial or viral infections. Some of its alkaloids stimulate phagocytosis (neutralization of foreign particles) which is the major mechanism of the innate immune response.
Evidence highlights the modulating role of cytokines, molecules used to direct and accentuate the adaptive immune response. This role of moderation is important because it makes it possible to avoid "cytokine storms" responsible for oversized inflammatory reactions.
Cat's Claw has very interesting anti-inflammatory effects. Research shows a significant reduction in joint pain. Similarly, there are interesting results on the inflammation of the bronchi.
Researchers believe that certain components of Cat's Claw (alkaloids) inhibit inflammatory signaling pathways (inflammation does not exist because it is not indicated) and modulate the inflammatory response.
Cat's Claw is also concentrated in antioxidant polyphenols (4) (proanthocyanidins) which fight against premature cellular aging by inhibiting free radicals. It seems that Cat's claw tincture can increase the antioxidant activity of certain enzymes (SOD and catalase) and, at the same time, can reduce the production of free radicals.
In Which Case to Use it?
The anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antioxidant properties of Cat's Claw are indicated in case of:
- Joint pains;
- Change of season, to deal with winter conditions such as colds or flu or, in the spring, to fight against allergies.
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