Herb of the Day

Devil’s Claw and Cat’s Claw

Devil’s Claw – the roots and tubers are used.
Cat’s Claw – the bark, leaves and shoots are used.

Devil’s Claw also known as Leopards or Wolfs Bane
Scientific name: Harpagophytum procumbens for the Kalihari plant, Proboscidea Louisianica for the U.S. plant.
The plant is commonly used to treat rheumatism and arthritis, and as a general health tonic. The thick, secondary roots are sliced and dried. Infusions of the dried root are used as a cure for digestive disorders and as a tonic in lack of appetite. It is also taken as an analgesic, especially during pregnancy, and the treatment continuing after labor. An ointment is made from the root material which is applied to sores, ulcers and boils.- (From “Medicinal Plants of South Africa” by Ben-Erik Van Wyck et al., Briza Publications, 1997).
The Khoison peoples of Madagascar and the Kalihari Desert used devil’s claw to lower fever, reduce complications in pregnancy and a myriad of pain-related conditions. Traditionally in African medicine Devil’s Claw has been used as a virtual cure all for such diverse diseases as fevers, malaria, menstrual cramps, the pains of childbirth, TB and other infectious diseases, hypertension, gout, liver disorders, peptic ulcers and other stomach disorders, to stimulate the appetite, lower cholesterol levels, purify the blood as well as for the relief of pain associated with arthritis and rheumatism. In ointments it is used externally to heal wounds, get rid of ulcers, boils and rashes and it is reportedly also used for insect bites.The German Commission E has approved its use for dyspepsia, stimulating appetite and resting degenerative disorders of the muscoskeleton. It is an active ingredient of ¾ of prescriptions for arthritis and rheumatism. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties it is being investigated as a possible alternative to the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which have received such bad press because of their adverse side effects. The active ingredients of the root believed to be responsible for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties are the glycosides harpagoside and acteoside.

Medical research has shown that inflammation is the key pathological factor in such common diseases as Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, cardio-vascular diseases, diabetes (Devil’s Claw can lower blood sugar and maybe a natural way to treat diabetes), dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases, which is why such extensive research is being done on Devil’s Claw.

It can be brewed into a tisane and drunk to stimulate the appetite and aid digestion, and this can also be applied to skin problems.

Cat’s Claw, also known by its Spanish name, Una de Gato, is a potent herb from the Peruvian rain forests. Said to combine the properties of today’s most popular herbs, Cat’s Claw shows great promise as an overall rejuvenating tonic with special applications for natural defense system support. Cat’s Claw is fast becoming world-famous as researchers continue to discover more about the benefits it holds for human health.
Cat’s Claw is also known by the names Una de Gato, Samento, Chacruk, Jipotatsa, Rangayo, and Garabato Amarillo. It’s also called “Opener of the Way” because of its well-known cleansing properties. Native to South America, Cat’s Claw has claw-like spines on its stems, hence the name. It is a giant woody vine that can grow over 100 feet. The root and bark of Cat’s Claw is used by the indigenous peoples of the Rainforest for birth control, arthritic conditions, asthma, cancer, fevers, ulcers, menstrual regulation, general weakness, wounds, detoxification, and rejuvenation. In most areas, only the inner bark of the plant is harvested, so that the root can be left to regenerate for future harvesting. The inner bark provides all of the beneficial alkaloids found in this medicinal plant. Cat’s Claw contains powerful antioxidants, such as proanthocyanidins, which help fight against free radical damage, strengthen the cardiovascular and  immune systems, protect collagen, and reduce swelling and inflammation.

Cat’s Claw is considered beneficial not only for the immune system, but for the digestive and structural systems as well. Cats Claw helps to activate  macrophages, lymphocytes and leukocytes. It also inhibits blood platelet  aggregation. Research on this plant is very recent, but more needs to be done. The common name Cat’s Claw also includes the species Uncaria guianensis, which is used interchangeably with Uncaria tomentosa (the more potent species).

These two plants can give good relief from pain for quite a few ailments. You can use each separately for a pain reliever or combine them to give each a boost and have extra coverage for where each plant aids in different areas. If you are pregnant (or nursing) or want to become pregnant (or get your lady pregnant) avoid Cat’s Claw as it has been shown to inhibit fertility and thus not recommended for those  persons wishing to get pregnant. Also, Devil’s Claw can cause uterine contractions. There are also many drug interactions with blood-thinners and diabetes medications so check with your health care provider before using Devil’s Claw if you take prescription drugs. Devil’s Claw should be used with caution by people with stomach ulcers due to the increase of acids it produces.

Cat’s Claw also has been contraindicated before or following any organ or bone marrow transplant or skin graft and large doses may cause gastrointestinal discomfort.DO NOT USE if you have an Autoimmune Disorder (Lupus, MS, HIV, Tuberculosis, etc..) or are immune compromised. In many countries it is illegal to mix Cats Claw with hormones, insulin, blood plasma or vaccines. As always, consult a doctor before treating yourself with any herb.

I found an EXCELLENT place to buy organic herbs and spices here at Mountain Rose Herb.

Some recipes: (How to make  tincture, infused oil, ointments, poultices and salves coming soon!)

Devil’s Claw

Herbal Tea Recipe
Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating. Devil’s Claw tea is prepared by steeping 1 teaspoon dried root in 2 cups boiling water for at least 20 minutes before straining and cooling.

Low Back Pain
Studies found that devil’s claw capsules (containing 200 mg – 800 mg of a concentrated extract taken three times per day) were helpful in reducing acute low back pain in some people.

Inflammation and the pain.
Just add 5 drops of Devils Claw Extract to your water, and you will be good to go!

Standardized dose: 600 – 1,200 mg, standardized to contain 50 – 100 mg of harpagoside, 3 times daily
Dried tuber or dried root powder: 100 – 250 mg, 3 times daily
Capsules containing dried root powder: 100 – 250 mg, 3 times daily
Liquid extract (1:1 in 25 % alcohol): 2 – 7 drops, 3 times daily
Tincture (1:5 in 25 % alcohol): 10 – 30 drops, 3 times daily
Tea (Decoction): Boil 1/3 – 1 (1.5 – 4 gm) teaspoonful in water. Strain and drink, 1 – 3 times daily.
The dosages in scientific studies on devil’s claw have ranged anywhere from twenty to 1,200 mg of the herb compounds per kilogram of body weight.

Make an ointment/salve/poultice for treating sores, ulcers, and sprains.

Cat’s Claw

Diverticulosis, Dysentery, Gastric Ulcers and other Intestinal Disorders:
This tea can be used for most intestinal and gastric disorders. Simmer one tablespoon (1 Tbsp) of Cats’ Claw Root Bark (ground down like coffee) in one cup of water for 10 to 15 minutes. For the best results, use organic Cats Claw Root Bark (available at health food stores and herbalists) and distilled or spring water. Drink 3 cups of tea every day until the condition improves.

Enema Recipe:
2 to 4 tbsp. Cat’s Claw powder make into a tea.
1½ quarts warm filtered water ( Mix well )

A tincture can be taken for all forms of Arthritis, either Rheumatoid or Osteo. It will also work on long term Allergy conditions (do not use in anaphlaxsys or sudden allergic edema) such as Hay Fever, Rhinitis or mild food reactions. The tincture also has another wonderful effect: It can reduce the agonies experienced after Cancer treatments. It is effective against nausea and pain caused by Chemotherapy treatments.

Topical creams and ointments can be made from Cats Claw and applied to the skin. It is very effective on Herpes and Viral infections on the skin. It has fantastic antiviral and antioxidant properties and it can really help these infectious and contagious disorders.


One response to “Herb of the Day”

  1. “Even a man who is pure of heart,
    and says his prayers by night,
    may become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms,
    and the autumn moon is bright”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: