Cat’s Claw Benefits For Health & More!

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In different times of my life, I was not a fan of alternative medicines and certainly not herbs with unusual sounding names like cat’s claw. I become a little skeptical when an herb is given an original name that’s just a little too outside the box. 

I am aware that this notion could sound ridiculous, especially after discovering that the intentions behind the name was probably not a marketing ploy. The herb is commonly referred to as cat’s claw/claws because of the thorns that cling to the sides of trees as it grows. Call it what you will, it remains a real asset in the world of alternative medicine.

And there’s a good story behind this plant’s rise to fame, too. In the 1920s, a German scientist named Arturo Brell used cat’s claw to treat his fellow colonist, Luis Schuler, in the small town in the Peruvian rainforest where he lived. Schuler suffered from terminal lung cancer and had undergone several failed treatments. That is until he started to drink cat’s claw root tea three times a day. The cancer was gone after a year. Pretty incredible isn’t it?

What Is Cat’s Claw? Where Does Cat’s Claw Come From?

Cat's claw flowers growing.

Cat’s claw blossoming.

Cat’s claw is also known as vilcacora and the “life-giving vine of Peru”, which I love – doesn’t it inspire? – but the name cat’s claw seems to be the most popular one. There are several species of the vine, with the most commonly-used species being Uncaria tomentosa and Uncaria guianensis, particularly for medicinal properties. It’s cultivated in tropical forests and central areas of South America. Some of the finest stuff on the face of the planet is located in that area of the world, deep in the heart of Amazonian jungle.

Top 4 Cat’s Claw Benefits Explained

Cat’s claw is used to treat several ailments including cancer, high blood pressure, arthritis and stomach inflammation. And there are current studies exploring further benefits of the plant. Because the research is ongoing, it will be impossible to cover all the benefits of the herb, so I will outline several that it is most known for.

1. Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Cat’s claw stimulates white blood cells to fight infection. It can reduce swelling by 50%, and treat gastrointestinal inflammation-inducing disorders. Considering the gut houses a large percentage of the human immune system, it’s a good herb to keep in mind.

2. Helps Treat Cancer

German scientist Arturo Brell was onto something when he used cat’s claw to treat cancer. The National Cancer Institute found that the plant has anti-tumor effects. Its antioxidants help the body eliminate toxins resulting from chemo and radiation therapy. 

3. Supports Your Immune System

Cat’s claw doesn’t only treat illnesses, it also prevents illnesses from developing in the first place. The antioxidants work hard to eliminate free radicals, in addition to killing bacteria, viruses, and disease-causing microorganisms.

4. Treats arthritis

Cat’s claw protects cartilage, the tissue in between your joints that serve as a cushioning for your bones. A study conducted on a group of individuals with osteoarthritis found that the plant may relieve some of the pain caused by osteoarthritis.

It’s important to note that not everyone will be able to re-create the results that Brell had with his patient back in the 1920’s. While some benefits of this plant have been outlined, there is no clear-cut clinical evidence quite yet. That story from 100 years ago, while inspiring, serves as a good reason for the continued research into this plant’s properties. But in no way should this herb be regarded as a definitive cure for cancer, arthritis, or any other ailment. This plant works with you and your natural rhythm, but it isn’t meant to replace treatment or medication, per se.

Cat’s Claw Tea Recipe And Benefits Explained

Tea pot on table in front of window.

Cat’s claw tea steeping.

Cat’s claw tea is simple to make. All you need is:

  • Water
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Cat’s claw bark or ground powder
  • Raw honey or spices

Follow the steps below to prepare your tea:

  1. Boil water with a few drops of lemon juice and pour into a cup. (I like to squeeze fresh lemons for the lemon juice, but you can use an already prepared lemon juice as well).
  2. Add the bark or powder (1-2 teaspoons if you are using powder or one to two average-sized pieces of bark).
  3. Leave the bark or powder in for 10 minutes before straining the tea. Add a teaspoon of honey or spices to taste.

Drinking cat’s claw tea is a natural way to reap its countless benefits. A cuppa cat’s claw tea every so often may relieve your symptoms if you suffer from arthritis, low blood pressure, stomach inflammation or any other illness that this plant is known to benefit. And for those of us who are in good health – this tea could do us a great service, by strengthening our immune system and preventing us from contracting illnesses or infections.

Tea is a real wonder-drink, according to some. From black to green to white kinds of tea – there are endless uses for this drink. Infused with other herbal remedies, it can be a powerful ally. For those who are sick, for those who are well, and for those in between – there is a relative consensus on the matter. Tea comes highly recommended.

What Are The Side Effects Of Cat’s Claw?

Abdominal discomfort is a possible side effect.

Cat’s claw is safe to take, in general. Some who have taken the herb have reported experiences like dizziness, nausea and diarrhea. Cat’s claw may also lower blood pressure and increase the risk of bruising and bleeding because it can slow blood clotting. It’s best to consult with a doctor before taking it, in whatever form or shape. Note that side effects can occur when you first begin taking cat’s claw but often subside with continued use of the herb.

Cat’s claw is a plant that can interact with certain medications. Confirm with your physician that the herb is safe to combine with your medication as it’s better to stay safe in these matters.

The plant may be unsafe for people who have Parkinson’s. There was a reported case of Parkinson’s becoming worse from taking the herb and improving once stopped. It also may be unsafe for people with Leukemia, as well as pregnant and nursing women. Children are also a potential risk group.


Natural remedies are becoming increasingly popular. There are many miracle herbs around, known for their medicinal properties. Well, there are those who would call them miraculous, anyway. But when ten different herbs are touted as being “the best plant for your worst ailment”, it can become confusing. Can all of them really be the best?

Every herb has its own benefits and potential side effects, and it is wisest to consult with a doctor to determine which herb is suitable for your condition. 

Having said that, it does seem that cat’s claw may benefit many of us. Of course, no plant should be used as a replacement of healthy diet and sufficient sleep – but this herb can certainly be beneficial when used alongside a healthy lifestyle.