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» Cat's claw: Uncaria tomentosa
Cat's claw: Uncaria tomentosa

Cat's claw: Uncaria tomentosa

Cat's claw: Uncaria tomentosa is a spiny climbing plant that grows in humid tropical forests of Latin America. In Peru is particularly abundant in the central jungle area between 150 to 800 meters above sea level. The stem bark of this plant is highly looked for as a source of numerous chemical compounds, it has medicinal properties scientifically proven and widely publicized. These properties were known by some ethnic groups in the Peruvian jungle since ancient times, they were who made known to the Western world. Taxonomic classification: According to bibliography cat's claw is classified taxonomically as follows:

DIVISION: Magnoliophyta
CLASS: Magnolipsida
SUBCLASS: Asteridae
ORDER: Rubiales
FAMILY: Rubiaceae
GENDER: Uncaria
SPECIES: Uncaria tomentosa (Will.) DC. Uncaria guianensis (Aubl.) Gmel. 

Description of the plant: It's a giant climber, its main stem can reach a thickness of 25 cm. and a total length of 40 m. Young branches are quadrangular, with hooked spines that grow to a 2 cm long and 0.5 cm wide, directed downward, not twisted. Leaves petiolate, membranous consistency limbo, oblong or oblong-ovate from about 9 to 17 cm long by 4 to 9 cm wide at the back has long and short fine hairs, which is what gives this species the tomentosa name. Inflorescence in heads with a diameter between 1.5 to 2 cm. The flowers are sessile yellowish. The fruit is elongated bivalve, measures up to 6 mm in length. The seeds are fusiform, very small, longitudinal, winged. (Steyermark, 1974; Obregon, 1994; Dwyer, 1980; Mac Bride, 1936, Croat, 1978). 

It helps to stimulate the immune system and to increase the activity of white blood cells in the presence of alkaloids isomitraphyiline and pteropodine from the root and bark which have been isolated. 

One of the alkaloids isolated is called rincophyline, it is good for the problems of hypertension and also to prevent diseases such as cerebral vascular accident and heart attacks by lowering heart rate and blood pressure, increasing circulation and reducing cholesterol levels.

It is anti-inflammatory, because quinovic glycosides. It is 15% better than indomethacyn. It develops effective action in various arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, rheumatism, lupus, fibromyalgia. It is useful for relieving sore muscles, cuts and contortions. 

It fights the presence of free radicals, controlling the inflammatory processes, cancer, fever and for patients who have been under exposure of ionizing radiation. That is why it is said that it is anti-tumoral. It is antimutagenic and cytostatic, action due to isorincofiline. It inhibits DNA polymerases alpha. The HL cell mitosis are reduced, while those of normal fibroblasts are not altered. It is useful in cancer, preventing methastasys. 
It is antiviral. It has a proper use against the AIDS virus HIV (combined with AZT). The treatments with AZT or chemotherapeutics that cause nausea and hair loss when combined with the "cat's claw (Uncaria tomentosa), see these secundary effects disappear. It is also used against feverish conditions, influenza (especially in children). It has good results in genital herpes and shingles, sinusitis, otitis, vesicular stomatitis virus, conjunctivitis. Many people with HIV are attracted by the properties of cat's claw used to strengthen the immune system. However, studies about it have not come to light, although many laboratories have studied, these are still private documents. 

It is detoxifying and digestive tract solving: It is useful when conventional treatments fail in Crohn's disease, diverticulitis, colitis, hemorrhoids, fistulas, gastritis, ulcers, intestinal parasites, intestinal flora disturbances, anal leakage. 
It's anti-allergy: It is useful against neurobronchitis and lupus. It is detoxificating of environmental toxins. It is effective in chronic fatigue, depression, organic, acne. 
It is anaphrodisiac for men: It is useful in prostatitis, in regulating the menstrual cycle, dysmenorrhea. However, the Uncaria tincture is aphrodisiac, because soaking is not done at high temperature, as is the case in other preparations. The decoctions, then, have the opposite effect, it is anaphrodisiac. 

It is antiplatelet: Due to rincofiline. It prevents heart attacks, hypertension, arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, thrombophlebitis, etc.. Finally it is protective against toxic erythrocytes. 

On the practical side, we need to standardize and eventually improve the collection of the extract. Regarding to their preservation, freeze drying is assumed that the extract is the best option (Cabieses 1994).


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