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Cat's claw, also known as una de gato, samento, and saventaro is an herb part of the rubiaceae family. The inner bark of the vine is the portion used as herbal medicine. Cat's claw is grown in the jungle, mostly the Amazon rainforest. Preparation that use only the bark of this plant and not the root as well should be sought after when procuring this herbal treatment. Use of the root reduces future growth.
Cat's claw supports the immune system, provides anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antidepressant, antioxidant, and antiviral properties and is also a diuretic, among other uses.2
Effect of Cat's Claw on Lyme Disease
Cat's claw is considered to be one of the main herbs that can help lower, or even eliminate, lyme spirochete loads in the body, support the innate immune function to help respond to the borrelia infection, and treat some of the symptoms of Lyme disease including central nervous system confusion, skin problems, and specifically arthritic inflammation among others.1
Cat's claw is specifically good for helping treat late-stage Lyme infection, chronic Lyme, and that which does not respond to antibiotics.1
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Research Evidence on Cat's Claw
In one study, cat's claw was found to help significantly relieve symptoms of Lyme Disease in patients who had been unresponsive to antibiotic treatment. The majority of those same patients who were retested for the disease in a follow up test actually tested negative for the disease.. 3 This study has been sited widely, though there were some flaws to it's initial design, including the fact that the treatment group received more than simply cat's claw; they received a specific blood-type diet, enzyme supplements, vitamin and mineral supplements, laser detoxification, skin brushing, laughter, prayer, and emotional release practices among other treatments.4
According to expert Stephen Harrod Buhner's view, cat's claw is useful for lyme infections in the following specific areas:
- For late-stage or chronic Lyme infections, it raises certain white blood cell counts (CD57)
- Cat's claw has an HLA-DR modulator
- Raises the immune system function where necessary, and lowers an overactive response where necessary (acting to help the feedback-loop response of the body's innate immune function)
- Reduces the arthritic symptoms through its anti-inflammatory properties
- Supports memory function in the central nervous system
- Protects the heart muscles
- Acts as a tonic to the system to support general well-being3
In general, use of cat’s claw has not been associated with adverse effects more serious than occasional digestive upset or allergic reactions. However, full safety studies have not been completed, and there has been one report of kidney failure apparently triggered by cat's claw. 1 Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.
Some evidence suggests that cat's claw might interact with various medications by affecting their metabolism in the liver, but the extent of this effect has not been fully determined. 2
- Hilepo JN, Bellucci AG, Mossey RT. Acute renal failure caused by 'cat's claw' herbal remedy in a patient with systemic lupus erythematosus. Nephron. 77(3):361.
- Budzinski JW, Foster BC, Vandenhoek S, et al. An in vitro evaluation of human cytochrome P450 3A4 inhibition by selected commercial herbal extracts and tinctures. Phytomedicine. 2000;7:273-282.
- Buhner, S.H. Healing Lyme: Natural Healing and Prevention of Lyme /borreliosis and Its Coinfections. Silver City, NM Raven Press. 2005
- Buhner, S.H. Healing Lyme: Natural Healing and Prevention of Lyme /borreliosis and Its Coinfections. Silver City, NM Raven Press. 2005 p 90
- Buhner, S.H. Healing Lyme: Natural Healing and Prevention of Lyme /borreliosis and Its Coinfections. Silver City, NM Raven Press. 2005 p 98
- Cowden, et.al. Pilot study of pentacyclic alkaloid-chemotype of Uncaria tomentosa for the treatment of Lyme disease. December 28-2000-March 22-2003. Presented at the International Symposium for Natural Treatment of Intracellular Micro Organisms, Munich, Germany.
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