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Cat's claw (Uncaria tomentosa, Uncaria guianensis)
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • 3,4-dehydro-5-carboxystrictosidine, ammonia treated quinic acid (QAA), ancajsillo, ancayacu, aublet, auri huasca, bejuco de agua, beta-sitosterol, campesterol, cat's claw inner bark extract, cell line green Uth-3, C-Med-100®, deixa paraguayo, gambir, garabato, garabato amarillo, garabato blanco, garbato casha, garbato colorado, garbato gavilán, garra gavilán, geissoschizine methyl ether, Gou-Teng, griffe du chat, hawk's claw, isorhynchophylline, isorotundifolune, jijyuwamyúho, jipotatsa, Krallendorn®, kugkuukjagki, life-giving vine of Peru, misho-mentis, mitraphylline, nature's aspirin, Nauclea aculeate, Nauclea oculeata, Nauclea tomentosa, oleanolic acid, Ourouparia guianensis, Ourouparia tomentosa, paotati-mosha, paraguaya, pentacyclic oxindoles, Peruvian cat's claw, pole catechu, popokainangra, quinic acid (QA), quinovic acid glycosides, radix Uncariae tomentosae (Willd.), rangayo, rhynchophylline, rotundifoline, Rubiaceae (family), samento, saventaro, stigmasterol, tambor hausca, tannins, tetracyclic oxindoles, tomcat's claw, torõn, tsachik, tua juncara, uña de gato, uña de gato de altura, uña de gato del bajo, uña de gavilán, uña huasca, Uncaria guianensis, Uncaria tomentosa, uncarinic acid C, uncarinic acid D, uncarine C, uncarine E, ursolic acid, unganangi, unganangui, UT extract, UTE, vegicaps.
  • Note: There are 34 Uncaria species other than Uncaria tomentosa. Other species are also referred to as uña de gato: Anadenanthera flava, Bauhinia aculeata, Berberis goudotii, Byttneri hirsuta, Caesalpinia sepiara, Celtis uguanae, Clerodendrum aculeatum, Doxantha ungis catti, Macfadyena undis catti, Mimosa albida, Mimosa acantholoba, Mimosa montana, Mimosa pigra, Piptadenia colubrina, Piptadenia flava, Pisonia aculeate, Pithecellobium unguis catti, Rubus urticaefolius, Smilax species, Zanthoxylum panamensis, and Zanthoxylum rigidum.
  • Combination product examples: CognoBlend™ (Bacopa monniera, Ginkgo biloba, cat's claw, gotu kola, rosemary), Krallendom® (cat's claw mixed with zidovudine [AZT]).


  • Cat's claw is a woody vine native to the Amazon rainforest and other tropical areas of South and Central America. It has been used as birth control, an anti-inflammatory, an immune enhancer, a cancer remedy, and an antiviral.
  • Many plant species are marketed under the name cat's claw, the most common being Uncaria tomentosa and Uncaria guianensis. Both are used to treat the same conditions, although Uncaria tomentosa is thought to be more effective.
  • There are reports that a possibly toxic plant, Acacia greggii, has replaced cat's claw in some commercial formulas. Cat's claw may be contaminated with other Uncaria species, some that may lower blood pressure, slow heart rate, or affect the nervous system.
  • Cat's claw has been studied as medicine for many conditions, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. While results have been promising, evidence is still lacking.


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The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

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Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Author Information

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Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.