Plant Allies: Cat's Claw


Hello dear friends!

If you’ve been digging into holistic ways to treat Lyme Disease, ME/CFS, and other related chronic illness, you’ve likely run into the herb called “cat’s claw.” When I first heard of it a few years ago, I didn’t really know what to think. It sounded odd, and exotic, and potentially very powerful. For these reasons, I stayed away from this herb until just about a year ago. Now, I’m kicking myself, wishing I would have journeyed with this amazing plant sooner! Alas, better late than never!

Cat’s claw is one of a handful of foundational herbs in the Medical Medium protocols, as well as the Buhner herbal protocols. And while it’s gaining in popularity here in the U.S., it’s still not one that many know much about. So, I wanted to write up a handy little blog about this magic plant, and invite you to incorporate it into your healing routine, if it calls to you.

Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa)

Also known as “una de gato” in Spanish, cat’s claw actually refers to over a dozen different plants with sharp, curved thorns. Two of which are long, climbing vine-type plants, which are the ones most people refer to when talking about cat’s claw: Uncaria tomentosa and Uncaria guianensis. For my purposes, I’ll be exploring the U. tomentosa variety.

Native to the Amazonian rainforest and other parts of Central and South America, cat’s claw is an impressive vine that can reach over 100 feet long. You can easily spot these woody vines by their curved hooks and soft flowers. It has been dubbed the “life-giving vine of Peru,” for its important place in that culture’s native medicinal practices.


Medical/Physical Uses:

Cat’s claw has been shown to:

  • Reduce joint inflammation/arthritis

  • Regulate digestion

  • Soothe angry stomachs and heal ulcers

  • Stimulate immune responses to viral infection

  • Ease symptoms of asthma

  • Speed wound healing

  • Enhance DNA repair/act as buffer to oxidative stress

  • Reduce side effects of chemotherapy


  • Bitter, cooling, drying

  • Analgesic, vulnerary, anti inflammatory, immunomodulatory, antiviral, adaptogenic, anti tumoral

  • Good for the solar plexus and third eye chakras

Emotional/Spiritual uses:

Cat’s claw is a very sacred herb to many tribes in the Amazonian rainforest area.

  • Shamans say that this herb serves as a bridge between physical and spiritual realms

  • Zodiac signs: Leo, Taurus

  • Element: Fire and earth

  • Aids in rites of passage, such as vision quests, journeying, and financial manifestation


Known as an energetic “gate opener,” cat’s claw is often used in spells, rituals, and other magick. It is said to release blockages and increase the flow of energy throughout all four levels of the self.

It is also becoming highly studied in clinical medicine, and utilized in treatment trials for Crohn’s, HIV/AIDS, RA, and many other serious illnesses.

This powerful herb can be a great addition to your daily routine, if you are suffering from symptoms of Lyme, CFS, MS, arthritis, and most other degenerative conditions.

I always recommend starting slowly with cat’s claw, as it can initiate deep detoxification. You can visualize the “claws” of a powerful feline, cleaning out your body and assisting you in regaining your health.

Ways to use cat’s claw

Because this herb can be a tad bitter, and stringy, I typically find that capsules or tinctures work best.

Personally, I take the alcohol-free cat’s claw tincture from Hawaii Pharm.

Regardless of the form you take it in, make sure your cat’s claw is responsibly harvested. It is under ecological threat, and is also commonly adulterated.

This plant medicine is one that I have done a lot of personal work with over the past year, and we’ve become good friends now!

So, friends….have you ever used cat’s claw? What did you think? I want to know your experiences!

And as always…

~ Hoping you feel as well as possible ~

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