Cat’s claw is a commonly used dietary supplement derived from a vine native to the Amazon rainforest. It’s named for its curved thorns resembling a cat’s claws. The vine has long been revered as preventive natural medicine, with indigenous people in South and Central America using it for more than 2,000 years to ward off disease. Now, the vine is believed to hold anti-inflammatory properties that may boost the immune system, improve circulation, and even potentially help prevent Cancer.
How is Cat’s Claw used today?
Cat’s Claw is promoted as a dietary supplement and is usually given in the form of capsules or as a tea made from the dried and ground pieces of the vine. The substance is thought to improve a variety of health conditions and is anecdotally said to help with immunity to common infections, as well as more serious ailments such as Cancer, HIV, colitis, and Alzheimer’s.
There are no known safety risks for using Cat’s Claw for short periods, though it may cause nausea, dizziness, and vomiting in some. It’s advised you speak with your doctor before beginning Cat’s Claw, as it may interact with some medications or be dangerous to people with certain conditions.
What does the evidence say?
Unfortunately, there are very few large-scale, in-depth clinical trials available on Cat’s Claw. Some small studies have found evidence of the vine’s immune-boosting effects. One involving 27 men found that 700mg of Cat’s Claw daily for two months increased white blood cell count, a factor in combating most kinds of infections.
Another study found that Cat’s claw works both by boosting the immune system’s responses and by potentially calming an overactive immune system. This study also suggests that Cat’s Claw may help to create an enhanced DNA repair response. This study was done both in rats, and in four humans, and both cases revealed a higher white blood cell count, as well as repair of DNA single-strand and double-strand breaks in the rats.
Cat’s Claw’s anti-inflammatory properties likely are what’s responsible for the immune-boosting effects. This may also help with the symptoms of osteoarthritis, and is where any cancer-preventing actions may come from.
More thorough research is needed for Cat’s Claw before definitive claims on its benefits can be made, though given the relative safety of the supplement it is still a viable option that may work for some people in aid of immune response and inflammation reduction.
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