“Cats Claw” (Una de Gato) is an herb that grows wild in the highland of the Peruvian Amazon. It has been used for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years by the native Ashanica Indians for treatment of a wide range of health problems associate with the immune and digestive systems.
In July of 1989, a U.S. Patent was issued for isolating sixoxindole alkaloids from the root of Uncaria tomentosa. All but two of the alkaloids ” are suitable for the unspecified stimulation of the immunologic system”. The most immunologically active alkaloid is Isopteropodin. Isopteropodinhas been shown in laboratory testing to have a pronounced enhancement effect on phagocytosis (the ability of the white blood cells and macrophages to attack, engulf and digest harmful micro-organisms, foreign matter and debris).
Besides Isopteropodine and the other oxindole alkaloids, researchers have isolated other beneficial constituents inherent in the herb. The presence of additional compounds in Unicaria Tonentosa explain the herb’s antioxident properties, its ability to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, and the anti-viral,anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties are also attributed to this herb.
It is important to note, there is another Uncaria species that grows in Peru known as Uncaria guianensis. This herb is also called Una de Gato and Cats Claw, however it does not contain the most important alkaloid, Isopteropodine. It is therefore important to be aware of products being marketed as “Cats Claw” or “Una de Gato.”
In the highly acclaimed, best selling book Vibrational Healing, by Dr. Richard Gerber, MD, Cat’s Claw is mentioned as “a unique Herbal remedy that has been used for many years by native healers of Peru.” He further states, that European studies have determined that Uncaria tomentosa has very low toxicity even if taken in large amounts.