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Cat's Claw
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Cat's Claw Overview

Written by FoundHealth.

Cat's claw is an herb popular among the indigenous people of Peru, where it is used to treat cancer, diabetes, ulcers, arthritis, and infections, as well as to assist in recovery from childbirth. It is also used as a contraceptive. There are two primary species of cat’s claw used medicinally: Uncaria tomentosaand Uncaria guianensis.

What Is the Scientific Evidence for Cat's Claw?


A 4-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial evaluated the potential benefits of cat’s claw ( Uncaria guianensisspecies) for the treatment of osteoarthritis . ()A total of 45 individuals with osteoarthritis were enrolled. Of these, 30 were treated with cat’s claw extract, and 15 were given placebo. Individuals in the treatment group showed reduced pain with activity as compared to those in the placebo group. However, no comparative improvements were seen in knee pain at rest or at night, nor in knee circumference.

This pilot trial suggests that the Uncaria guianensisspecies of cat’s claw may be a useful treatment for osteoarthritis. Another study compared the effectiveness of a proprietary combination of cat’s claw with glucosamine sulfate, a widely used dietary supplement for osteoarthritis. Researchers reported the results as positive, but because there was no placebo group the overall effectiveness of this cat’s claw combination product cannot be determined. 1 More research will be necessary to verify this potential use of the herb.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 40 individuals undergoing conventional treatment for rheumatoid arthritis , use of an extract made from Uncaria tomentosamodestly improved symptoms in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, as compared to placebo. 2 The researchers conducting this trial made use of recent information indicating that there are two different subtypes of Uncaria tomentosa, identifiable based on the chemicals found in them. For this trial, they used the form containing pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids, as opposed to tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids.


Numerous widely varying forms of cat’s claw are available commercially. The optimum dosage of each type is not known. In addition, the precise differences in action between the two species of cat’s claw, Uncaria tomentosaand Uncaria guianensis, as well as the pentacyclic and tetracyclic forms of Uncaria tomentosa(see above) are not known.


  1. Mehta K, Gala J, Bhasale S, et al. Comparison of glucosamine sulfate and a polyherbal supplement for the relief of osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized controlled trial [ISRCTN25438351]. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2007 Oct 31. [Epub ahead of print]
  2. Mur E, Hartig F, Eibl G, Schirmer M. Randomized double blind trial of an extract from the pentacyclic alkaloid-chemotype of uncaria tomentosa for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. J Rheumatol. 29(4):678-81.

1 Comment

Posted 6 years ago

I have years of using herbs, food, etc. for health for myself and my Tibetan dogs....I previously used cats claw after a terrible car accident...extensive leg, head, internal damage....always it was included in natural pain medications. I have had lyme for about one year and natural things are working...I hadn't thought about cats claw until recently and found some of a reliable brand. In two days I felt more herxing, skin clearing even on my arms that had only scars remaining. I am just starting with it but the intense large joint pain lessoned very noticeably. will continue to post comments as I continue to take it.

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