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Cat's Claw: Healing Vine of Peru

by Klaus Ferlow(more info)

listed in herbal medicine, originally published in issue 231 - July 2016

A botanical plant, a massive woody vine known in Spanish as una de gato in English as Cat's Claw, its latin name is Uncarica Tomentosa, is being called by many Miracle Herb from the Rain Forest of Peru.

It refers to ‘the opener of the way’ because of its remarkable ability to cleanse the entire intestinal tract and help patients suffering from a variety of different ailments. It can grow over 100 feet in length and attach and wind their way up through trees of the Peruvian rain forests. The name Cat's Claw comes from  their cured hooks which looks like claws that occur in pairs on either side of the stem at the leaf junction. The hooks enable the plant catching branches of other plants and allow them to suspend their weight as they grow up from the darkness of the jungle floor towards the sunlight.

Cat's Claw 231

What are the Benefits of Cat's Claw?

For hundreds if not thousands years the native Indian Ashaninka, other tribes, native healers have used the inner bark and root to prepare medicinal tea in a form of a decoction. According to Indian folklore the tea has been used to cure tumours and other serious diseases since the herb is a powerful cellular reconstitutor.  Clinical evaluation and  the experience of Peruvian physicians confirmed its effectiveness. In the early 1970s studies have been conducted at research facilities in Peru, Austria, Germany, England, Hungary, and Italy suggesting Cat's Claw may be beneficial in the treatment of:

  • Cancer, arthritis, asthma, allergies, candidiasis, diabetes;
  • Bursitis, chronic fatigue syndrome, gout, fungus, gout
  • Contraceptive, Crohn’s disease, fistulas, fibromyalgia, Hemorrhoids
  • Genital herpes and herpes zosters, gonorrhea, infected with HIV virus
  • Depression, environmental poisoning, immunostimulant;
  • Irregularities of the female cycle, pre-menstrual syndrome
  • Neurobronchitis, prostration, rheumatism, ulcers
  • Hypoglycemia, lupus, high blood pressure, leaky gut syndrome

Cat's Claw has been the subject of clinical research in Europe and elsewhere around the globe. Discover why it has become one of the South America's most important medicinal plant and North America's most popular herb. Unicaria tomentosa has so many therapeutic applications that it seems to far surpass such well-known herbs as Pau D'Arco (Taheebo), Echinacea, Goldenseal, Astragalus, Artemisia annua, Siberian and Panax Gingseng, Maitake, Shitake and Reishi mushrooms and other natural products including Grapefruit seed extract, Caprylic and Lauric Acids and Shark cartilage.

Properties attributed to Cat's Claw include:

  • Adaptogenic;
  • Anti-microbial;
  • Antioxidant;
  • Anti-viral;
  • Anti-inflammatory;
  • Anti-tumour;
  • Anti-pyretic;
  • Hypotensive.

This emergence of knowledge about the activity of this remarkable herb could not have come at a better time! Many people have become  fearful that the war on cancer is being lost because new potentially deadly viruses are evolving, and more deadly ‘super-bacteria’ are developing due to over use of prescription antibiotics. Please read my educational articles:   and 

Some of the glycosides present in the herb may also add protection from pain and has been helpful in reducing pain associated with chemotherapy, radiation treatment and AZT use. Researchers believe that the activity of the whole plant extract is greater than the sum of its parts. Cat's Claw seems to enhance overall immunity while increasing stamina and energy in patients who suffer from physical and mental exhaustion due to an overactive or stressful lifestyle.

Unlike Brazil and other South American countries which have allowed the continuous destruction of their rain forest habitats, the government of Peru has passed legislation designed to prevent the extinction of Unicaria tomentosa as well as Unicaria guianensis. The bark contains all of the medicinal properties attributed to the herbs and harvesting the bark is an ecologically sound practice because the bark will grow back and replenish itself.

We are using in our household for many years our Cat's Claw tincture that also prevents cold and flu since it is a strong immune system booster - Mother Nature at work!

The EthnoMedicine Preservation Projects

This projects by Master Herbalist Debra St Claire are unique since she works tireless for the preservation of the medicinal plant knowledge of indigenous cultures in Peru, Belize, India and Australia, see also 

History of Cat's Claw

Peru is a fascinating country with a well recorded history and culture. It is 60% jungle and has a coastline extending over 2000 km of land which is generally arid and often desert. There are new species of animals and plants, totally unknown to humankind. Over 3000 insects and other animals, thousands of plants and over 350 different varieties of trees! Between the desert and the jungle, the majestic Andes rise with altitudes surpassing 15,000 feet; one of the most famous is Machu Picchu built at the height of the Inca Empire which dominated Western South America in the 15th and 16th centuries, see also:

Peru has a climatic bio-diversity that is unique and embraces 28 different climates of the 32 existent in the world! Parts of Peru are situated in an area that has been remained virtually untouched throughout millions of years, despite the glacial periods and various changes which have challenged most of the other countries.

There are approximately 60 different species of Uncaria, but the native Ashaninka, Cuuranderos and other tribes used mainly the Uncaria Tomentosa. A young German Bavarian schoolteacher named Arturo Brell fulfilled his dream immigrating to Peru in the early 1930s, working in the land of the Incas and to live among Indians. He first experienced boiling the inner bark of the una de gato using as a tea, and noticed improvement of his skin, growing hair faster as well as eliminating painful rheumatism which he had suffered for years. Later he developed numerous botanical formulas with Cat's Claw. He died in Lima in 1978 at the age of 74.

Another European researcher and scientist Dr Klaus Keplinger from Austria did one of the most exciting research and information projects about Cat's Claw by obtaining two United States patents issued in 1989 and 1990 for isolating some of the Cat's Claw's major components. He extracted six oxindole alkaloids from the root of Uncaria tomentosa. It is explained how four of these alkaloids have been shown in laboratory testing to have a pronounced enhancement effect on phagocytory (ability of white blood cells and macrophages to attack, engulf, and digest harmful microorganism, foreign matter and debris).

These four alkaloids are known as isopteropodine, pteropodine, isomitraphylline and isorynchophylline. Rynchophylline, a fifth alkaloid has been studied at the Shanghai College of Traditional Medicine. It has shown in laboratory testing to display to inhibit platelet aggregation and thrombosis. This suggests that his alkaloid may be useful in the prevention of stroke and reducing the risk of heart attack by lowering blood pressure, increasing circulation and inhibiting the formation of plaque on the arterial walls, and the formation of blood clots in the vessels of the brain, heart and arteries. Peruvian and Italian researchers have discovered a wealth of other beneficial phytochemicals inherent in the herb including proanthocyanidins, polyphenols, triterpenes, and the plant sterols beta-sitosterol, sigmasterol and campesterol.

Is it any wonder that una de gato has attracted worldwide attention due to its special powers as an immunostimulant and the impressive variety of a long list of other healing attributes and it may be very well one of the most, if not the most impressive immunostimulant herb known to humankind!

World of Wisdom

The forest is not a resource for us, it is life itself. It is the only place for us to live.

Evaristo Nugkuag Ikanan

Peruvian activist for environmental and indigenous people cultures, see 


Maxwell Nicole. Witch Doctors Apprentice, Citadel Press, 1990.

Cabieses Fernando. The Saga of Cat's Claw. Vialactea Editores, 1994.

Jones Kenneth. Cat's Claw - Healing vine of Peru. Sylvan Press, 1995.

Elkins Rita. Cat's Claw (una de gato) Miracle herb from the forest of Peru. Woodland Publishing. 1996.

Steinberg, Phillip N. Cat's Claw – The Wonderous herb from the Peruvian rain forest. Healing Wisdom Publications. 1996.

Author Note

The information is summarized for it educational value and should not be used for the diagnoses, treatment, or prevention of disease. Please contact your health care practitioner.


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About Klaus Ferlow

Klaus Ferlow HMH HA Author, Formulator, Lecturer, Researcher, Writer, Core-founding member of the WNO – World Neem Organisation, member of the International Herb Association, Plant Savers, founder of Ferlow Botanicals & NEEM RESEARCH, co-author of the book "7stepstodentalhealth" and author of the  Award winning book "Neem: Nature's Healing Gift to humanity", the third edition and his new book Neem: The Tree that Heals Nations will be released in May 2024. He can be reached at:, ,,


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