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Cat's Claw Not Effective against Cancer

William T. Jarvis, Ph.D.

Una de Gato (the English translation of which is cat's claw), can involve either of two herbs whose scientific names are Uncaria tomentosa and Uncaria guianensis. It is being quacked as "a wondrous herb from the Peruvian rain forest," thus capitalizing upon the current fascination with rain forest explorations. Reports in the fringe literature typically state that the herb is used to treat cancer by people in Peru and then add scientific-sounding information.

A scientific report in the Journal of Natural Products (1991;54:453-9) states that researchers isolated six new quinovic acid glycosides from cat's claw samples. Oral doses inhibited edema (swelling) but showed no significant anti-inflammatory action on experimentally induced edema in a rat's paw.

Because of anecdotal reports of cat's claw use as a folk remedy for cancer, the National Cancer Institute has tested samples. In 1995, an official at NCI's Natural Products Branch informed me that cat's claw had been put through the cancer and AIDS screens but did not show sufficient activity to warrant further testing. [Investigational Drugs Branch fax 11/08/95]

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© 1996 National Council Against Health Fraud. With proper citation, this article may be reproduced for noncommercial purposes

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This article was posted on December 1, 2000.