- Cat’s claw is a woody vine that grows wild in the Amazon rainforest and other tropical areas of Central and South America. Its thorns resemble a cat’s claws.
- The two most common species are U. tomentosa and U. guianensis. Most commercial preparations of cat’s claw contain U. tomentosa.
- Use of cat’s claw dates back 2,000 years. Indigenous people of South and Central America used it to ward off disease.
- Today, cat’s claw is promoted as a dietary supplement for a variety of health conditions, including viral infections (such as herpes, human papilloma virus, and HIV), Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, arthritis, diverticulitis, peptic ulcers, colitis, gastritis, hemorrhoids, parasites, and leaky bowel syndrome.
- There’s no conclusive scientific evidence based on studies in people that supports using cat’s claw for any health purpose.
- Cat’s claw appears to be safe when used orally for short periods of time. However, it can cause headache, dizziness, and vomiting in some people.
- Cat’s claw might make the immune system more active, which could increase symptoms of autoimmune diseases. If you have an autoimmune disease, consult your health care provider before using cat’s claw.
- Little is known about whether it’s safe to use cat’s claw during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
- Cat’s claw may interact with some medications, including some HIV drugs called protease inhibitors. If you take medication, talk with your health care provider before using cat’s claw.
- Cat’s claw may lower blood pressure and slow blood clotting. Talk to your health care provider if either of these effects might be a concern for you.
- Talk to your health care providers about any complementary health approaches before you use. It may be contraindicated with any medications you are currently taking.