Uncaria tomentose


Botanical Name: Uncaria tomentose
Common name: Cat’s claw
Family: Rubiaceae
Parts used: Inner bark,



  • Alkaloids of tetracyclic oxindoles: Mitraphylline, Rhynchophylline & Isorhynchophylline
  • Quinovic acid glycosides
  • Ursolic acid,
  • Oleanolic acid
  • Beta-sitosterol,
  • Stigmasterol,
  • Campesterol
  • Rotundifoline
  • Isorotundifolune
  • Guinovic acid glycosides
  • Flavonoids
  • Coumarins
  • Tannins

(Catapang et al., 2013)



  • Anti-inflammatory (Catapang, Giese, Iovin, Isaac, Rusie, Grimes Serrano, Tanguay-Colucci, Ulbricht, Weissner, Welch, Windsor, Woods & Wortley, 2013)
  • Immunostimulant (Catapang et al., 2013).


History/Traditional Use

Uncaria tomentose is a woody vine native to the Amazon and other tropical areas of South and Central America. It is believed that Peruvian Ashàninka Preists considered Uncaria tomentose to have great powers and life giving properties (Catapang et al., 2013).

Used for over 2000 years by indigenous peoples of South and Central America, the herb is traditionally used as a contraceptive, anti-inflammatory, immunostimmulant, cancer remedy and anti-viral. Eventually imported to Europe, in the 1990s Uncaria tomentose became a complementory treatment for cancer and AIDS (Catapang et al., 2013).


Indications (contemporary)

  • Allergies (Catapang et al., 2013)
  • Arthritis (Catapang et al., 2013)
  • Blood circulation (Catapang et al., 2013)
  • Hypertension (Catapang et al., 2013)
  • Periodontal disease (Catapang et al., 2013)
  • Cancer: Human and animal studies show Uncaria tomentose to play a role in prevention of non-melanoma skin cancers (Filip, Clinchici, Daicoriciu, Adriana, Postescu, Perde-Schrepler & Olteanu, 2009, Abstract; (Catapang et al., 2013)
  • Repetative Strain Injury/Carpal Tunnel (Bone & Mills, 2013, pp. 310-311)


Preparation & Dosage

  • Capsule: 500-600mg/day
  • Infusion: 1-25g root bark/250mL of water, boiled for 5-10 minutes, cooled and strained. One cup/tds
  • Tincture: 1-2mL, 2-3 times daily or 20-40 drops up to five times daily
  • Decoction: 1tbsp pulverized root/1 quart water. 45 minutes, taken before breakfast.


Advised to be used up to 4 weeks (Catapang et al., 2013).



  • May be nephrotoxic and should be avoided in individuals with renal dysfunction (Catapang et al., 2013).



  • Contraindicated in pregnancy due to traditional contraceptive and abortifacient potential (Catapang et al., 2013).
  • Contraindicated in autoimmune disease due to immunostimulanting action (Catapang et al., 2013).


Bone, K., & Mills, S. (2013). Principals and Practice of Phytotherapy (2nd ed.). Edinborough: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.

Catapang, M., Giese, N., Iovin, R., Isaac, R., Rusie, E., Grimes Serrano, J., Tanguay-Colucci, S., Ulbricht, C., Weissner, W., Welch, S., Windsor, R., Woods, J., & Wortley, J. (2013). Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa, Uncaria guianensis). Natural Standard Professional Monograph. Retrieved from: http://www.naturalstandard.com/databases/herbssupplements/catsclaw.asp?

Filip, A., Clinchici, S., Daicoriciu, D., Adriana, M., Postescu, I., Perde-Schrepler, M., & Olteanu, D. (2009). Photochemoprevention of cutaneous neoplasia through natural products. Experimental Oncology, 31(1), 9-15. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19300410?dopt=Abstract

Image I: Brasch, G. (n.d.).Heilpraktiker. Retrieved from: http://www.hpbrasch.de/2014/02/pflanzen-krebs-therapie/

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