advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Consider Cat's Claw?

What are the health benefits of cat's claw (Uncaria tomentosa or Uña de gato)? Do you think it can be safely consumed?

A
Answer (Published 8/22/2006)

Cat's claw comes from a woody vine with claw-shaped thorns that grows wild in the Amazon highlands of Peru and other areas of South and Central America. Native peoples have used the bark and root for centuries, primarily for treatment of arthritis, ulcers, sexually transmitted diseases, and cancer.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Supplements & Herbs - If you are interested in supplementing your diet, and want to take the mystery out of choosing vitamins, try Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor. Visit today for your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor Recommendation.

My colleague Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., director of education and botanical studies at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine here at the University of Arizona, tells me that one good, but small, study in Austria showed that rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with 60 mg a day of a standardized extract of cat's claw for one year experienced a reduction in the number of painful and swollen joints. The study was published in the April, 2002, Journal of Rheumatology. Dr. Low Dog also said that a review of the safety data on cat's claw found low potential for toxicity. Safety in pregnancy isn't known.

According to Dr. Low Dog, cat's claw appears to have some immune-modulating effects, but more research is needed. No definitive conclusions have emerged from other studies evaluating cat's claw for reduction of inflammation and as a treatment for arthritic pain in the knee. Some studies have suggested that cat's claw may slow the growth of malignant tumors, but here, too, we need much more evidence before drawing any conclusions about its efficacy.

Despite the limited scientific evidence, promoters make extravagant claims that cat's claw is effective for everything from acne to urinary tract infections, including such serious conditions as diabetes, heart and kidney disease, and cancer. And cat's claw is popular with consumers. In 1997, it ranked seventh in herbal sales in the United States.

Cat's claw is rich in tannins, which could cause such gastrointestinal side effects as abdominal pain and diarrhea. I do not routinely recommend cat's claw and would need to see more and better evidence in order to do so.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here