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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Herbal Cat's claw (Uncaria tomentosa)

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..
Ingredients
The chemical constustuents 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.

1. Cat's claw and cancers
Cancer is a class of diseases in which a group of cells growing and multiplying disordered and uncontrollable way in our body, have become progressively worse and damaged other healthy tissues, sometimes spreads to other organs in the body via lymph or blood and results may be in death.

The benefits
Cat's claw (Uncaria tomentosa), the popular herb has emerged in scientific community in searching of organic chemical constistuents in treating cancers. Study of ethanol extract from the bark of the herb in different concentrations is found to be effective  in inhibiting proliferation of cervical carcinoma, breast carcinoma and lung carcinoma (A-549) with little of adverse effects. In the isolation of pentacyclic oxindole alkaloid mitraphylline from the dried inner bark of Cat's claw, concentrations of mitraphylline (5 microM to 40 microM) inhibited the proliferation of human Ewing's sarcoma MHH-ES-1 and breast cancer MT-3 cell lines in a dose-dependent manner. With that result in mind, the herb may be a potential agent in treating certain types of human cancers in the future.


References
(1) Topical plant data base (Rain tree)
(2) Anticancer activity of the Uncaria tomentosa (Willd.) DC. preparations with different oxindole alkaloid composition by Pilarski R, Filip B, Wietrzyk J, Kuraś M, Gulewicz K.(PubMed)
(3) Cytotoxic effect of the pentacyclic oxindole alkaloid mitraphylline isolated from Uncaria tomentosa bark on human Ewing's sarcoma and breast cancer cell lines, by García Giménez D, García Prado E, Sáenz Rodríguez T, Fernández Arche A, De la Puerta R.(PubMed)

2. Cat's claw and Breast cancer
Breast cancer (malignant breast neoplasm) is a cancer that starts in the tissues of the breast either from the inner lining of milk ducts (Ductal carcinoma) or the lobules (Lobular carcinoma) that supply the ducts with milk. there is also rare cases that breast cancer starts in other areas of the breast. In 2010, over 250,000 new cases of breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S. alone and the risk of getting invasive breast cancer during life time of a women is 1/8.

The benefits
Claw's claw has been used in folk medicine in South-American history for treatment of cancers, arthritis, gastritis and epidemic diseases. In previous article, Cat's claw has exerted its anti breast caner activity in MT-3 cell lines as well as some other forms of cancers, but in other study of some extracts and their chromatographic fractions from Cat's claw, researcher found that beside possessed antimutagenic activity, the extracts  and fractions also consisted a direct antiproliferative activity on MCF7 cell line, with about 90% of inhibition at a concentration of 100 mg/ml.


3. Herbal Cat's claw and osteoarthritis
 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).

References
(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)


4. Herbal Cat's claw as Antioxidants
Free radicals are atoms, molecules, or ions with unpaired electrons through chemical bonds with other atoms or molecules during a chemical reaction. They may have positive, negative or zero charge. The unpaired electrons cause radicals to be highly chemically reactive in the human body, leading to aging and cancers.

Herbal Cat's claw has found to be efficacy for treatment of osteoarthritis, probably through its anti inflammatory and antioxidant mechanisms.
According to the, oral administration of Cat's claw protected against indomethacin-induced gastritis, and prevented TNFalpha mRNA(proteins are key regulators of T-cell activation, migration, and proliferation) expression and apoptosis due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities(1).
Pteropodine, a chemical compound isolated from Cat's claw, showed to exert its cytostatic, anti-inflammatory and antimutagenic properties in DPPH assay(2).
Aqueous and ethanolic extracts of the Uncaria tomentosa bark, in the study at the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Polish Academy of Sciences, supported the antioxidant effect of the extract with the most in total phenolic compounds of the alcoholic preparations butmay cause undesirable gastric effects(3).
Other chemical compound, proanthocyanidins found in the decoctions prepared from the bark of Uncaria tomentosa (cat's claw) also was found to exert its high capacity to reduce the free radical diphenylpicrylhydrazyl, and by its reaction with superoxide anion, peroxyl and hydroxyl radicals as well as with the oxidant species, hydrogen peroxide and hypochlorous acid(4).

References
(1) Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities of cat's claw (Uncaria tomentosa and Uncaria guianensis) are independent of their alkaloid content by Sandoval M1, Okuhama NN, Zhang XJ, Condezo LA, Lao J, Angeles' FM, Musah RA, Bobrowski P, Miller MJ.(PubMed)
(2) Antigenotoxic, antioxidant and lymphocyte induction effects produced by pteropodine by Paniagua-Pérez R1, Madrigal-Bujaidar E, Molina-Jasso D, Reyes-Cadena S, Alvarez-González I, Sánchez-Chapul L, Pérez-Gallaga J.(PubMed)
(3) Antioxidant activity of ethanolic and aqueous extracts of Uncaria tomentosa (Willd.) DC by Pilarski R1, Zieliński H, Ciesiołka D, Gulewicz K.(PubMed)

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Reference
(1) Topical plant data base (Rain tree)
(2) The antiproliferative effects of Uncaria tomentosa extracts and fractions on the growth of breast cancer cell line bt Riva L, Coradini D, Di Fronzo G, De Feo V, De Tommasi N, De Simone F, Pizza C.(PubMed)
(3) Cat's claw: an Amazonian vine decreases inflammation in osteoarthritis by Hardin SR.(PubMed)
(4) Antioxidant properties of proanthocyanidins of Uncaria tomentosa bark decoction: a mechanism for anti-inflammatory activity by Gonçalves C1, Dinis T, Batista MT.(PubMed)

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.