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Cat's Claw Una de Gato Uncaria Tomentosa
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(by Phillip N Steinberg, Certified Nutritional Consultant)
In the May, 1994 issue of the Townsend Letter, many of you read about the history and remarkable properties of Uncaria tomentosa (Cat's Claw). Since that time, hundreds of doctors and clinics throughout the United States have begun working with the herb and it has become widely available in health food stores. Preliminary reports seem to verify what I had first mentioned in my previous article. That is, that Uncaria tomentosa may be beneficial in the prevention and treatment of many of today's serious health problems. These include: cancer, arthritis, bursitis, rheumatism, all forms of herpes... including Epstein Barr, chemical and environmental allergies and sensitivities, asthma, depression, systemic candidiasis, lupus, diabetes, hypoglycemia, chronic fatigue syndrome, acne, PMS and menstrual irregularities, environmental toxin poisoning, circulatory problems such as hypertension, varicose veins, thrombosis and those infected with the HIV virus. There is also evidence that Uncaria tomentosa may be helpful with numerous stomach and bowel disorders including: gastritis, ulcers, hemorrhoids, Crohn's disease, diverticulosis, leaky and irritable bowel syndrome.
Within the last year, I have received reports from both doctors and individuals describing their successes in using the herb. Here is what some have reported:
Dr. Ambrose, ND, co-founder of the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine recently informed me that she is seeing significant improvement in patients suffering from Crohn's disease, ulcers, asthma, arthritis, iritis, shingles, dysbiosis and chronic fatigue syndrome. One patient, a woman who had been taking sulfasalazine (a sulfa drug with numerous side effects) to treat a bleeding ulcerative condition associated with Crohn's, was able to quit the drug after a few weeks using Cat's Claw, her bleeding condition seems to have cleared up and she is reported to be experiencing much higher levels of energy.
Dr. Ambrose also mentioned that she has been able to eliminate the use of many Chinese herbs because Cat's Claw, in many instances, seems to be more effective; and finally, she has informed me that Cat's Claw seems to enhance overall immunity while increasing stamina and energy in patients who suffered from physical and mental exhaustion due to an overactive or stressful lifestyle.
Dr. Donna Schwontkowski, DC: In Healthy & Natural Journal, issue 1, October 1994, pp. 64-65, has stated that Una de Gato (Cat's Claw) is the most powerful immune enhancing herb of all the herbs native to the Peruvian Amazon. In her article titled, "herbal Treasures from the Amazon" part 1, she mentions that preliminary studies suggest that the herb has an ability to stop viral infections in early sages, help patients who are chemically sensitive, enhance emotional stability - even in the midst of extreme stress, fight infections in AIDS patients and decrease the visible size of some skin tumors and cysts within two weeks.
Dr. Schwontkowski also reports that Una de Gato has been linked with the remission of brain and other tumors, as well as providing relief from the side effects of chemotherapy. Dr. Julie Clemens, ND and Homeopath began giving Cat's Claw to her mother who had severe circulatory problems in her legs and found walking to be difficult and extremely painful. Within a few weeks, her circulation improved and she was able to begin walking with almost no pain. Dr. Clemens has also report seeing a significant reduction in the side-effects of radiation and chemotherapy in her cancer patients who are using Cat's Claw.
Kitty Winslow, owner of a health food store in Missouri has reported that four of her customers have eliminated most of their symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, as a result of taking Cat's Claw in capsule form.
Finally, a patient in Texas who is HIV positive, informed me that after taking Cat's Claw capsules for approximately eight weeks, his T-cell count rose from 560 to 875.
Obviously, these reports are anecdotal in nature. However, I feel the herb certainly shows promise and should be considered for use in more comprehensive natural treatment programs. One thing that could be done is an in-depth scientific evaluation of how the varied plant phytochmecials found in Cat's Claw many function synergistically. These include oxindole alkaloids, quinovic acid glycosides, triterpines, polyphenols, proanthocyanidins and plant steols. The presence of these compounds seem to be what gives the herb its adaptogen, antioxidant, antitumor, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Though more research is needed to determine proper dosage for various ailments, there is a general consensus based on the available information and use by various doctors and individuals throughout the U.S.
Traditionally, the Indigenous Peoples of Peru have used both the root and the inner bark of Cat's Claw to prepare a tea in the form of a decoction. However, because the plant has become a threatened species, the government of Peru has passed legislation designed to protect the herb and insure its availability of those who need it now and in the future. Since the inner bark has been found to contain all of the medicinal properties attributed to the herb, it has recently become illegal to harvest or disturb the root. Harvesting the root causes the needless death and destruction of the vine and ecologically speaking is an unsound practice, Couple this with the ever-increasing worldwide demand and it becomes clear why Cat's Claw has become threatened. In fact, it has been estimated that the species could become extinct within the next 5 years if harvesting the root were allowed to continue. Harvesting the inner bark, however, is ecologically sound as long as the root remains intact. This practice insures that the vine will grow back, replenish itself, reach maturity and again be ready for harvesting in approximately 4 years.
In present day Peru, one can walk into a pharmacy and purchase Cat's Claw in either tea or capsule form. Labels on the packaging state that the curative powers of Cat's Claw are almost unlimited. This is attributed to the herb being a powerful cellular reconstitutor. Instructions are given on how to use the herb to teat cancer, arthritis, gastritis, female hormonal imbalances and other ailments.
Audio Tape by Phillip N Steinberg, Certified Nutritional Consultant on Cat's Claw -- You must Hear This!
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