Have you ever heard of cat’s claw? A lot of people have not heard this name before, and it is an unusual name for an herb. Cat’s claw is one of the amazing herbs, which has high therapeutic benefits for you.
The best effect of cat’s claw is natural immunity booster. Not just this, cat’s claw is a natural cognitive enhancer that improves synaptic connections and works as a nootropic compound.
Additionally, cat’s claw is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-mutagenic which makes it one best herb to try.
Cat’s claw helps with some health conditions such as arthritis, allergies, diabetes, asthma, fatigue, cancer, ulcers, hemorrhoids and more importantly, memory-related diseases.
What is Cat’s Claw and Where it Grows?
Uncariatomesntosa is the scientific name of cat’s claw. It is a woody vine that naturally grows in the tropical forests.
The native areas of its growth are South America and Central America.
The reason why is it called cat’s claw is due to the shape of its thorns, which appear like claws of a cat. In some parts of America, it is also known as “Villacorta.”
The plant of cat’s claw grows to a maximum length of 30m, which makes nearly 100 feats. The leaves of it are elliptic which has a slightly smooth edge. The phyllotaxis arrangement of leaves is opposite.
The American Cancer Society promotes health benefits of cat’s claw, which makes it an alternative therapy for many health conditions. This makes cat’s claw available in all major parts of the world as general health supplements.
Health benefits of Cat’s Claw
- It strengthens the brain and boosts its functions.
- Cat’s claw helps to treat arthritis in patients.
- Cat’s claw prevents the growth of cancer cells.
- It repairs the DNA and improves the body functions.
- It controls and maintains blood pressure.
- Cat’s claw enhances immunity.
- Treating AIDS may be helpful.
- It aids in healing herpes.
- It improves digestion and related diseases.
Origin of Cat’s Claw and Interesting Facts
Cat’s claw belongs to family Rubiaceae. It is a woody vine that clings to the sides of the nearby tree by using its claw-shaped horns.
Its tress is very tall, but at least 20 plants or more making a cluster, all with curved thorns are considered cat’s claw.
The Spanish name of cat’s claw is “Una de Gato.” There are two species of cat’s claw that are common in America and Europe.
These are called Uncariatomentosa and Uncariaguianensis. These two have different properties.
Uncariatomentosa is more famous for its therapeutic benefits. The latest research proves its immune-boosting effects.
The other Uncariaguianensisis mostly used for wound healing. All these cat’s claw products that are helpful for immunity, brain boost and strength are made of Uncariatomentosa.
The medicinal benefit is highest in root and bark of the plant. These two are made into tea, tincture and capsule firms. Cat’s claw plant has over 30 known phytochemicals, which include 17 alkaloids.
It also contains glycosides, tannins, flavonoids, sterol fractions and other constituents. All the benefits of cat’s claw are due to these phytonutrients.
Cat’s Claw as a Cognitive Booster
Cat’s claw is a natural nootropic, which has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and DNA repair properties, which strengthens the immunity, and supports cell division. All these properties help in following;
- Prevent he cerebral inflammation
- Fight against amyloid plaque (that causes Alzheimer’s)
- Promotes cerebral circulation
- Boost acetylcholine levels
How does Cat’s Claw work inside your brain?
Cat’s claw boosts the cognitive abilities through several ways. In particular, there are two things, which it does.
Cat’s Claw as a Neuroprotectant
Cat’s claw is a part of traditional medicines for several health problems.
The latest research focuses that using cat’s claw helps to protect the brain from possible neural damage and improves the cognition.
A research study from “Phytomedicine” explains that cat’s claw extracts enhance the natural DNA repair mechanism in the brain.
A similar study elaborated the potential of cat’s claw to increase the tryptophan levels inside the body. The increase in tryptophan levels improves serotonin release and hence improves the mood.
Whereas other studies verified the potential of cat’s claws as an immune modulator, anticancer, antihypertensive and much more.
The study published in “Journal of Ethnopharmacology” explains the activity of cat’s claw extracts.
The analysis was studied by comparing spray-dried hydroalcoholic extracts against aqueous freeze-dried extract. It was to investigate which one of them is better. The experiment was performed on mice.
The results showed that anti-inflammatory activity of cat’s claw hydro-alcoholic extract was higher as compared to the aqueous extract.
Cat’s Claw to improve learning and memory
Cat’s claw improves the synaptic connections, which initiates a lifelong learning. It builds up the memory and overall boosts all brain related activities at best.
The research suggests that the specific alkaloid content of cat’s claw has brain repairability, which is the DNA repair process.
When the brain cells are damaged as a result of any injury, stroke or dysfunction, these repair programs activate it and works on the restoration plan.
Sometimes dysfunction of acetylcholine receptors also causes brain processes to slow down.
One alkaloid from cat’s claw called Rhynchophylline works as an NMDA antagonist as suggested by a study result published in the “Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology”.
It selectively restricts the NMDA receptors, which further helps to tone down the hyperactivity and overstimulation of the brain. The result is a calm and peaceful mind with clarity and better learning abilities.
How damage affects the brain?
There are specific causative agents, which affect the working of the brain. They include stress, fatigue and free radicals at most.
The damages caused by these can result in some problems such as memory loss, anxiety, depression and in extreme cases it can cause neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
All these factors affect the brain in a very negative way. Following is a list of a few damages to the brain.
The chronic stress reduces the memory and causes memory loss.
- Free radicals damage the brain cells.
- Neuroplasticity of the brain decreases.
- The brain-derived neurotrophic factor drops down.
- The NMDA receptors hyper-activate themselves.
We may not realize it, but the stress of daily life can cause all these damages to the brain. As a result of these, the brain loses its natural capacity to hold and transmit the brain and body coordination.
Learning, cognition, focus, concentration, decision making, memory all of these suffer from this damage
The advantages of using Cat’s Claw
Using cat’s claws help in many ways. For example;
Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF)
Research tells that cat’s claw can boost BDNF and tame NMDA activity. It also repairs the damaged parts of the DNA.
All of this builds up an environment, which makes the learning, memory, mood and other brain processes better.
If BDNF is low, you are almost certain to suffer from major depression, OCD, schizophrenia, dementia, and related diseases.
The power antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of cat’s claws protect the brain from inflammation and the oxidation damage.
The swelling is one of the causes of depression, dementia, and complete memory loss. Cat’s claw also limits the formation of plaque, which is linked with Alzheimer’s disease.
By increasing the tryptophan levels, cat’s claw increases the serotonin and provides a relaxing effect on the user. It also alleviates pain, which is just an additional benefit of using cat’s claw.
How to use Cat’s Claw?
You can easily find cat’s claw in any health store. It is available in a supplement, liquid tincture and tea form. You can use any of these as per your choice. Most of the users love it in tea form.
The traditional way to use cat’s claw is to make a tea of it. The inner bark of the vine is used to make cat’s claw tea. You can use a bark directly or purchase a powdered tea from the nearest health store.
The products of cat’s claw have a different concentration of alkaloids and dosage recommendation.
A standard dose of cat’s claw bark is 300 mg per day. The dosage guide for other forms may vary from this. Read the label and instructions to use it correctly.
You may sometimes see cat’s claw cream for topical use. It is helpful to aid in rheumatism, arthritis, muscular pain and joint problems.
Are there any possible side effects and cautions with Cat’s claw use?
Cat’s claw is a mild and well-tolerated product for almost all users. It is toxic free. There are no as such side effects, but some people may experience dizziness, nausea, and diarrhea at first use. These discomforting effects are mild and vanish in few hours on their own.
For those, which are already on medication, talking to the doctor before using cat’s claw is better.
Anything that is powerful enough to produce healing effect is also capable of interacting with medicines. That is a highly likely situation with blood pressure medicines and immune modulating supplements.
Secondly, cat’s claw is not a medicine. It is not advised to use if a person has been diagnosed with a health condition particularly autoimmune diseases, i.e., multiple sclerosis and lupus.
Any patient of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson or dementia should not use cat’s claw on his own. In 2008, there was a case study of a Parkinson’s disease patient who started using cat’s claw.
The situation got worse and eventually led him to more health problems. It only got better once he left using cat’s claw. This study was published in “Clinical Neuropharmacology” journal.
You are also not advised to take cat’s claw when you are pregnant or breastfeeding women. It is strictly not suitable for children. If you have a surgery schedules, stop using cat’s claw at least two weeks before surgery.
There is no evidence of allergy in cat’s claw users. But for the safe side, if you are allergic to any plant from Rubiaceae family, you may be sensitive from cat’s claw too. In any such situation, stop using cat’s claw and seek emergency medical care, if required.
You need to understand that not all products that are named cat’s claw are the same. Another plant, which is common, called catclaw acacia, catclaw mesquite or Gregg’s catclaw is a native of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.
The scientific name of this plant is Senegaliagreggii, and it has no relevance with Uncariatomesntosa. There are no therapeutic effects of it, and it contains some potentially toxic elements too.
Final thoughts and cognitive benefits of Cat’s Claw
Cat’s claw is a fantastic remedy for many health problems. All these mechanisms that it initiates inside the user’s body lead to increased cognitive abilities and immunity.
The most popular reason to use cat’s claw products is to aid in muscle or joint problem and nootropic assistance.
Increasing immunity means that cat’s claw also helps the body to fight against certain diseases, i.e., cancer.
For centuries, cat’s claw has helped in all these medical situations. Except for the minor possible side effects, it is perfectly safe for everyone. Try it if you want to avail the miraculous benefits of cat’s claw.