Looking for Cat’s Claw?
By Kosa Ely
Una de gato (uncaria tomentosa) is recognized as one of the most important medicinal plants of the whole world pharmacopoeia. Known in Spanish as Una de gato, in English as Cat’s Claw, this vine grows in rainforest and jungle areas in South America and Asia. The vine acquired its name from the small thorns at the base of its leaves, which look like a cat’s claw. With the help of these claws, the vine attaches itself around the trees it climbs, often reaching a height of over 100 feet.
In the Amazonian rainforest the native people have used Una de gato for centuries. For more than 2,000 years the Aguaruna, Ashanika, Cashibo, Conibo and Shipibo cultures have used this plant for their families and tribes. Considered a valuable medicinal resource, they have always protected it. When harvesting the plant, the vine is cut about three feet above the ground. The root remains undisturbed and the vine quickly grows back to its full size within three to four years.
The Ashanika are considered the most knowledgeable about the use of this plant and refer to it as the ‘Sacred Herb of the Rain Forest’. They have the longest recorded history of use with the plant, using it to treat asthma, various forms of inflammation and joint pain, to recover from childbirth, cleanse the kidneys, control gastric ulcers, and maintain a strong digestive system.
Since the 1970’s the scientific community, first in Europe and then the United States, have been interested in this botanical. The scientific studies are substantiating many of the traditional uses for this sacred vine. Scientists have found Una de gato stimulates immune functions and possesses phytochemicals in the bark and roots that carry strong anti-inflammatory properties.
The first time I heard about Cat’s Claw was seven years ago. My husband had a severe case of the flu and a friend recommended that I try the “new miracle herb that strengthens the immune system.”
I went straight to my local health food store and purchased a bottle of Cat’s Claw. Unfortunately it didn’t seem to make a difference, and I resorted to fresh ginger tea. But I don’t give up easily. Over the following year I tried several bottles of Cat’s Claw from different companies with no tangible results. I couldn’t figure out why the research and testimonials weren’t matching my real-life experience.
It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I listened to an audiocassette by Phillip N. Steinberg, a Nutritionist who had become the leading authority in North Amer-ica on Cat’s Claw. The following information from Mr. Steinberg solved my dilemma.
“It is important to note there are approximately 60 different uncaria species that grow in tropical rainforests throughout the world. Only two are known to be native to Peru: uncaria tomentosa, and uncaria guianerisis. Both have similar qualities and both are commonly known as Cat’s Claw or Una de gato. However, the general consensus among Peruvian physicians and researchers is that uncaria tomentosa is somewhat superior, based on chemical analysis and clinical evaluation.
“According to Dr. Ra-mon Ferrara, a Harvard-educated botanist at San Marcus University in Lima, Peru, there are ten other herbs native to Peru also called Cat’s Claw, or Una de gato. To make it even more confusing, there is an acacia species growing in the southern U.S. also known as Cat’s Claw, or Una de gato.
I mention this because the worldwide demand for uncaria tomentosa is growing at a very rapid pace. Because of this, unscrupulous companies are jumping on the bandwagon in an attempt to cash in on this growing phenomenon. There is even one company claiming to be selling a unique variety of uncaria tomentosa, when in fact there is only one variety. It is most important you purchase the correct Cat’s Claw from a reliable source if you expect to see the kind of results I am talking about. . .”
OK. Now it all made sense. I had purchased from the wrong companies. So what were the right companies? Mr. Steinberg endorsed the Amazon Herb Company whose operation was based in Peru, and harvesting the real thing, uncaria tomentosa. I listened further.
“Traditionally, the indigenous people of Peru have used both the inner bark and root of uncaria tomentosa to prepare a tea in the form of a decoction. This tea would then be consumed several times per day as a treatment for tumors and other growths, arthritis, bursitis, rheumatism, diabetes, acne, PMS, female hormonal imbalances, and prostrate problems in men.”
Mr. Steinberg continued, “On a more personal note, I use Cat’s Claw daily. I use it with my children, and have shared the herb with numerous friends and relatives. I have seen ear and upper respiratory infections clear up in 48 to 72 hours. I have used drops of tea in the eyes to clear up conjunctivitis. I have used the powdered herb between the toes to clear up athlete’s foot. And I know of other individuals having positive results with sinus infections, hypoglycemia, allergies, shingles, menstrual irregularities, prostrate problems, diabetes, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and even lupus.
“Unlike herbs such as goldenseal and echinacea, which generally should only be taken for acute conditions short term, Cat’s Claw is a powerful adaptogen with significant antioxidant properties. This makesit suitable to be used as a preventative measure long-term.”
Thank you Mr. Steinberg. This time when I bought my Cat’s Claw I purchased the real thing, uncaria tomentosa, and what a difference! Within days of drinking our Peruvian uncaria tomentosa tea my husband and I felt a strengthening of our body systems, an awakening of energy and our minds cleared. Over the next several months of drinking this tea daily our immune systems were noticeably stronger, allergies disappeared, blood sugar levels balanced, and memory improved. For our teenagers, hormone levels balanced and negative attitudes disappeared. What a Godsend!
So what makes uncaria tomentosa effective for such a large variety of conditions? The scientific researchers may answer that it is because of the wealth of beneficial phytochemical compounds, including alkaloids, glycosides, bioflavonoids, plant sterols, and more.
The Ashaninka had the answer two thousand years before: because it is the
‘Sacred Herb of the Rainforest.’
To receive a free sample of Rainforest uncaria tomentosa tea, please call (800) 362-3975, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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