(NaturalNews) Cat's Claw is an herb that has received very favorable but limited press. Word of mouth has boosted sales. But too few know enough about this miraculous yet inexpensive Peruvian mountain rain forest herb. Consider this article as a primer or introduction to Cat's Claw and its healing capabilities.
The vine was named for the hooked thorns resembling cat claws on its twigs. Cat's Claw, or una de gato, is technically known as uncaria tomentosa. It has been used traditionally for many centuries by Peruvian medicine men for a variety of ailments.
Cat's Claw's bark and roots provide most of its immune boosting qualities via oxindole alkaloids. These alkaloids enhance white blood cells' ability to engulf pathogens and destroy them. However, there are two forms of these alkaloids.
The POA/TOA Controversy
Many consider pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids or POAs to be the more beneficial form. It's claimed that these POAs are hampered by the other type of alkaloids known as tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids or TOAs.
The hybrid TOA free version of Cat's Claw supposedly contains more quinovic acid glycosides. Quinovic acid glycoside compounds are used to manufacture antibiotics. But they are safer and less problematic in their natural forms, yet powerful enough to provide safe and significant direct antimicrobial effects for even Lyme Disease.
However, TOA free Cat's Claw is pricier. And there is a strong argument that basic whole Cat's Claw's natural balance has been healing for ages. The argument goes further by stating there is no proof of TOA free Cat's Claw's superiority. (Controversy pdf, source below)
Practically all of the international research proving Cat's Claw's efficacy was done with the original plant source containing both types of alkaloids. Most herbalists and naturalists agree that Cat's Claw's benefits exceed all other known immune enhancing or modulating herbs, including Reishi, Echinacea, Siberian ginseng, and Astragalus. Nevertheless, many practitioners now tend to use or recommend TOA free Cat's Claw for the extreme issues of Lyme and Crohn's Disease.
Using Cat's Claw
Cat's Claw can be taken in capsule, tea, or tincture forms. It is an adaptogenic immune regulator. So it provides both immune boosting and dampening as necessary. Too much of an immune response does cause problems. For example, vaccinations often cause cytotoxic storms, an overreaction from the immune system that results in seizures or paralysis. Most allergies are essentially milder hyper immune system responses.
The converse is obvious. If the immune system is weak, disease can invade undeterred. So Cat's Claw can adapt to either situation as needed. It is also anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial (viral and bacterial), anti-oxidant, and anti-fungal. Cat's Claw has even shrunk cysts and tumors and it inhibits cancer metastasis.
Originally, Cat's Claw was used to effectively handle digestive problems such as gastric or duodenal ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, and leaky bowel syndrome. Cat's Claw has demonstrated a capacity for flushing out pathogens and irritants from the gastro-intestinal tract.
Its anti-inflammatory properties have been useful for relieving the pains from rheumatism or arthritis. Cat's Claw is also useful for various fungal problems, including Candida. Cat's Claw's anti-viral qualities have been used for treating Herpes as well. Using Cat's Claw can benefit almost any autoimmune or inflammatory issues.
CAVEAT: Make sure your Cat's Claw plant source is uncaria tomentosa and not uncaria guianensis. The latter is easier to find and harvest, but uncaria tomentosa is the better source. Pregnant women are advised against using Cat's Claw. It can cause a miscarriage. There are contraindications with blood thinning drugs or drugs that are meant to suppress the immune system.
Paul Fassa is dedicated to warning others about the current corruption of food and medicine and guiding others toward a direction for better health with no restrictions on health freedom. You can visit his blog at http://healthmaven.blogspot.com