Cat’s claw is a herbal remedy which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Only one RCT was conducted to evaluate its role in treating rheumatoid arthritis, which showed some clinical benefits with only minor side-effects when taken along with conventional medications.
What is it?
Family: Herbal medicine of the Rubiaceae family
Scientific name: Uncaria tomentosa
Other names: Life-giving vine of Peru, una de gato
Cat’s claw is taken from the stem and root of some woody vines native to South and Central America. You can buy capsules over the counter in pharmacies and health food shops.
How does it work?
Laboratory and animal studies have found that cat’s claw can prevent the activation of several inflammatory substances in your body. Studies have also shown that it has antioxidant properties, so it can prevent damage to your body’s cells by interacting with harmful molecules (free radicals) which are produced within your cells.
Is it safe?
We don't have much data on the clinical safety of cat’s claw. No serious side-effects were reported in one trial whose participants had rheumatoid arthritis, but there was one report of serious kidney problems in a woman with lupus.
You should be cautious about taking cat’s claw if you take drug for hypertension because it may increase the effect of these drugs. You should also be cautious about using cat’s claw if you take immunosuppressive drugs. Laboratory studies have also found that cat’s claw can stimulate the production of certain hormones called cytokines. Cytokines are important to your immune system.
One trial used a dose of 60 mg a day of the active component (Uncariae tomentosae), but no studies have been conducted to find an appropriate dosage for musculoskeletal conditions.
Cat's claw trials for rheumatoid arthritis
A summary of the scientific evidence on cat's claw for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Read more
References for the evidence on cat's claw. Read more