cat’s claw

The history of cat’s claw in traditional herbalism goes back thousands of years.

Cat’s claw is a tropical woody vine from the Rubiaceae family that is found across the globe. It can grow over 100 feet in length and take 20 years to reach full maturity. Its name comes from its hooked thorns, that look just like the claws of a cat.

 For 2,000 years, people of ancient cultures have used cat’s claw extracts in herbal practices.

There are 40 to 60 different species of cat’s claw worldwide. Cats’s claw extract is sold as a dietary supplement.

An Ancient Remedy of Giant Proportions

Since ancient times, cat’s claw has been utilized as an invigorating herb across the globe. Most notably, cat’s claw dates back to the Inca civilization.

Cat’s claw (U. tomentosa) has been found in many Central American and South American countries, including Peru, Brazil, and others.

Though many native people used cat’s claw as a botanical remedy, others simply drank the water from the stem of cat’s claw as a revitalizing drink.

For thousands of years, local tribes have used cat’s claw to promote health. Cat’s claw was also utilized for spiritual wellness.

Some sources credit German scientist Arturo Brell with popularizing cat’s claw in Europe and North America.

Benefits of Cat’s Claw

Cat’s claw is a rare plant and is most often consumed as a dietary supplement. Benefits of cat’s claw are many, including:

  • Antioxidant support
  • Blood sugar support
  • Cardiovascular support
  • Immune system support
  • Inflammatory response support
  • Microbial support
  • Neurological support

From Peru to America

Cat’s claw is the best-selling product of NutraMedix, a company founded by Christian missionaries Tim and Bertha Eaton.

Tim’s first exposure to cat’s claw occurred during his aviation training in the mid-1980s. In the midst of a three-day simulated crash survival test in the Amazon jungle, he was told by tribesmen in the local village to drink the water from a vine they called “samento.”

They assured him the water was good to drink and wouldn’t make him sick — and how right they were!

These days of missionary work were formative to the rest of Tim’s life. He became friends with the indigenous tribes of the regions of Peru and other South American countries where he served.

He learned to hunt, learned of their beliefs and customs, and became acquainted with the Amazonian pharmacopeia that placed this divine water at the center of their herbalist practices.

However, Tim also witnessed extreme poverty, malnutrition, and a lack of education in the local population.

After meeting his wife, Bertha, in the early 1990s, they chose to realize the vision of NutraMedix. Their dream was to operate a company that would not only provide health-promoting products to customers, but also that could support the communities in Peru they had come to cherish.

25 years later, NutraMedix now sells 40 products, but their main fare is still a special form of cat’s claw sourced responsibly from Peru.

Cat’s Claw Alkaloids

There are 2 notable alkaloids in traditional cat’s claw. The absence of either one greatly changes the effectiveness of cat’s claw for health and disease.

Alkaloids are natural nitrogen compounds with notable physiological effects in humans (positive or negative). 

Traditional cat’s claw contains 2 notable types of alkaloids:

  1. Tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids (TOAs)
  2. Pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids (POAs)

POAs are the source of the best health benefits of cat’s claw. TOAs often block the pronounced effects of POAs. 

Some varieties of traditional cat’s claw may contain up to 80% TOAs. Even 1% TOAs have been shown to reduce POAs’ immune supporting abilities.

The topic of oxindole alkaloids in cat’s claw is a highly complex and scientific one. 

Here are the basics:

  • TOAs stimulate your immune system.
  • POAs support your immune system, making sure your immune system is doing the thing it is supposed to do.
  • In the presence of TOAs, POAs immune support may be reduced or nearly eliminated.

TOA-Free Cat’s Claw: Samento

TOA-free cat’s claw, which goes by the name Samento, is a potent cat’s claw extract that contains no TOAs.

While varieties of cat’s claw are present throughout the world, only one is known to be naturally free of TOAs: Samento, found in the Amazon rainforest.

An Austrian company discovered Samento years before Tim Eaton would try it for the first time. What they discovered was the rarity of this form of cat’s claw. They were not able to find or harvest enough. So, instead of focusing their energy on finding enough of this rare, naturally occurring TOA-free cat’s claw, they instead embarked on a process to instead remove TOAs from other varieties that were easier to harvest.

Side Effects and Safety

Cat’s claw is very well tolerated in humans. Rare side effects of cat’s claw include headaches, digestive upset, low blood pressure, and dizziness.

There are a number of medications that should not be taken with cat’s claw.

Always consult your healthcare provider before taking any new dietary supplement, especially if you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or are suffering from any known medical condition.

Dosage for Cat’s Claw

There are no official dosage guidelines for cat’s claw. If you purchase a cat’s claw extract dietary supplement, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s dosage instructions.

For liquid tincture of TOA-free cat’s claw, the “standard” dosage is 30 drops (1.5 mL) twice daily at least 30 minutes before meals. However, your healthcare provider may suggest you start with 1 drop and work your way up to a larger dose.

You should always follow the dosage listed on a supplement packaging. Do not take more than directed on the label.

Is Cat’s Claw Right for You?

Cat’s claw is a medicinal plant that may offer many benefits to the human body.

However, its natural alkaloid types work against one another. TOA-free cat’s claw may be a better option to support your health.