Sunday, 18 May 2014

Herbal Cat's claw and Osteoarthritis

Cat's claw found in in the tropical jungles of South and Central America, is a genus Uncaria, belonging to the family Rubiaceae. It has been used in traditional medicine over two thousand years as a tonic, contraceptive, anti-inflammatory and infectious agent, and to treat diarrhea, rheumatic disorders, acne, diabetes, cancer and diseases of the urinary tract, etc..

The chemical constituents of Cat's claw include, ajmalicine, akuammigine, campesterol, catechin, carboxyl alkyl esters, chlorogenic acid, cinchonain, corynantheine, corynoxeine, daucosterol, epicatechin, harman, hirsuteine, hirsutine, iso-pteropodine, etc.

 Osteoarthritis is a group of diseases involved progressive denegation of joints, including articular cartilage and subchondral bone.

In the study to understand the effect of Cat's claw isolated active compounds against the pivotal molecular targets involved in inflammation and the joint destruction process and to summarize their toxicities and efficacy,  showed a positive effect in alleviation pain with no adverse effect(1).
Dr. Chrubasik S. at Institut für Rechtsmedizin der Universität Freiburg, in the study of Cat's claw analgesics, found a the positive effect of the herb extract (Doloteffin (extraction solvent water))in relieving symptoms of chronic pain with at least 50 mg harpagoside in the daily dose(2).
Further more, the reviews of 16 clinical studies (11 randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials, three crossover trials, one case-controlled study, and one open-label study) at Bethesda North Hospital Pharmacy, showed the support of cat's claw alone or in combination for OA in 3 studies(3).

These effectiveness may be coincided with the use of herb in herbal medicine over thousand of year in treating disorders such as arthritis, gastritis and osteoarthritis(4).

Unfortunately, the study in reviews the data base by the University of Southampton, showed a doubt
of the methodological quality of the existing clinical trials and insisted that clinical evidence to date cannot provide a definitive answer to the two questions posed: (1) Does it work? And (2) is it safe?, although these trials may provide certain supports for effectiveness of the herb(5).

Side effects
1. It may cause allergic reaction, including itching, rash and allergic inflammation of the kidneys, etc. to certain people, according to the article of `Uncaria Tomentosa`by Wikipedia(a)
2. If you are taking blood pressure medicines, blood-thinning medications, hormones, or insulin do not take cat's claw
3. Do not take Cat's claw if you are pregnant or breast feeding with out approval of your related field specialist
4. Do not take cat’s claw if you have low blood pressure or an autoimmune disease (such as lupus or multiple sclerosis) or have had an organ or bone marrow transplant.
5. Etc.

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(1) Current nutraceuticals in the management of osteoarthritis: a review by Akhtar N1, Haqqi TM.(PubMed)
(2) [Devil's claw extract as an example of the effectiveness of herbal analgesics].[Article in German]

 by Chrubasik S.(PubMed)
(3) Antioxidants and antiinflammatory dietary supplements for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis by Rosenbaum CC1, O'Mathúna DP, Chavez M, Shields K.(PubMed)
(4) Cat's claw: an Amazonian vine decreases inflammation in osteoarthritis by Hardin SR.(PubMed)
(4) Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) as a treatment for osteoarthritis: a review of efficacy and safety by Brien S1, Lewith GT, McGregor G.(PubMed)

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