Cat’s Claw is a medicinal vine with claw-like thorns that give the plant its name. Its use as a medicinal herb extends back to the Mayan and Incas, and it is used in Ayurveda and Chinese herbalism. Cat’s claw contains several oxindole alkaloids, which seem to heavily support the immune system. This may explain some of the traditional uses of Cat’s claw in helping wounds heal and helping intestinal issues such as dysentary.
Today, Cat’s claw has been used by herbalists to lend support to those with certain viral infections such as shingles, herpes and cold sores. Some reports even show that Cat’s claw has been used in association with HIV, Lyme’s Disease as well as colds and the FLU virius. Cat’s claw also seems to help contribute to a balanced digestive system, which is believed to be a vital part of the immune system itself. Perhaps this explains why herbal uses of Cat’s claw extends to everything from colitis to Chrone’s to gastritis to diverticulitis to hemorrhoids to parasites and more. Aside from immune and digestive support, Cat’s claw may offer assistance to these conditions as an anti-inflammatory agent. Conditions ending in “itis” indicate inflammation, so something that could reduce inflammation could conceivably help alleviate symptoms of these conditions.
Chronic inflammation can cause a wide range of problems and chronic illness in the body. As an anti-inflammatory, it is easy to see why Cat’s claw has been used as an herb by those with such a wide range of conditions. Cancer and Alzheimer’s are no exception to this list. Cancer is also related to problems with the immune system, so if Cat’s claw could benefit the immune system, it is logical that it could have a benefit on cancer in that way too.
Studies have also shown a potential for Cat’s claw to be able to repair DNA in skin cells. This implies a potential for cat’s claw to offer assistance following chemotherapy, and it could help skin that has been sun-damaged.
Cat’s claw has also been used to treat the skin of acne.
Cat’s Claw contains some alkaloids that are related to those in kratom (mitragyna speciosa) and mitragyna hirsuta. These herbs have a history of being used for pain. Cat’s claw has been traditionally used as a pain herb for osteoarthritis and rheumatism. It would seem that anti-inflammatory action could be useful to someone afflicted with arthritis. But also, some of the indole alkaloids that are also found in the mitragyna species may have their own action on pain. Topical treatments containing cat’s claw have also been used for muscle pain and spasms. So it would seem that Cat’s claw may be more than a simple anti-inflammatory.
Cat’s claw also has possible benefits to the circulatory system and the heart. Cat’s claw can reportedly inhibit platelets from bonding, which could reduce strokes and heart attacks. Less clotting within the blood vessels can keep the circulatory system clear and functional, but reducing clotting ability may be detrimental to those who already have trouble clotting. Cat’s claw has also been said to support lower blood pressure, which would also benefit the heart. Blood sugar levels in rats also seemed to be reduced by cat’s claw.
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