Today, supplements have become more useful and are now a part of human therapy. Learn about the side effects, uses, and dosage of cat’s claw, a herbal supplement.

Modern medicine appreciates supplements, including herbal ones, which have now become part of us. As the name suggests, they help complement mainstream medication, with some having far-reaching effects than others. One of the commonest supplements is the cat’s claws, a herbal supplement from a tropical vine. Peer into this article and know everything you need to know about it, including its uses, effects, and dosages.

Understanding cat’s claws

Despite the weird name, the cat’s claw is a great supplement. Its taxonomic name is Uncaria tomentosa, a tall tropical vine that grows up to 30m. Its unique name originated from its hooked thorns, which take after a cat’s claws, and is mostly found in the Central and South USA regions, although its main domain is the Amazon rainforest. The other close variant is Uncariaguainensis, mostly used in the USA for manufacturing supplements. The American traditional medicine valued the tree and used its bark and roots to heal infections and manage cancer. Today, its supplements are available in different forms, including liquid, tea, capsules, and powders.

Cat’s claws: Potential health benefits

Cat’s claw dates back to the old days when the Americans used it to treat infections and has since garnered respect from the many claimed health benefits. However, only a few of these, hereafter discussed, are backed by science.

a.      It may boost the immune system

The immune system is the body’s defense system, and strengthening it means protecting the entire body. Studies are now linking cat’s claw with immunity boost, especially after one which gave participants 700mg of the cat’s claw extract for two months and reported increased white blood cells, signifying immunity boost. Besides, another research gave the same extract to its participants who noted the same effects after six weeks. Interestingly, the supplement also calms down an overactive immune system. These functionalities are linked to its heavy package of antioxidants. Still, further studies are needed to clear any doubt.

b.      It may help you manage rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a serious condition affecting about a 1.28million Americans. It is characterized by joints that suddenly warm up, swell, and become painful. Fortunately, studies are seeing some light in using cat’s claw to manage the disease’s symptoms. For instance, one study involved 40 people with the disease and gave them 60mg of the supplement with regular administration of their prescription, after which the painful joints reduced by about 30%, an effect associated with the supplement’s anti-inflammatory properties. Still, more studies are needed to state the exact mechanism for the supplement in this role.

Claimed health benefits

Besides the science-backed health benefits discussed above, there are many claims about cat’s claw and its potentials. However, most of these lack scientific backup. Here are such claims;

It is only through exhaustive studies that these claims can be upheld or discarded.

Cat’s claw: Safety and side effects

Currently, there is insufficient information about the safety of cat’s claw, although few to no side effects have been reported. Due to its high tannin content, cat’s claw may cause diarrhea, stomach discomfort, and nausea if taken in excessive amounts. Case reports and lab experiments also claim that anti-estrogen effects, nerve damage, increased bleeding risk, and kidney damage may also occur with cat’s claw supplementation, although these should be rare. With the insufficient information to determine its safety, these should better avoid the supplements;

Cat’s claw: Dosage information

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate cat’s claws and has not stated its dosage recommendations for the supplement. However, according to the WHO, the dosage for capsules and stem bark extract should range between 300-500mg and 20-350mg, respectively, and should be distributed in 2-3 dosages administered throughout the day. For rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis management studies, 60mg and 100mg, respectively, have been used. Since FDA does not regulate most herbal supplements, including cat’s claw, the risk of contamination is high, although you can avoid this by sourcing the supplement from a reputable supplier. Moreover, looking for NSF International, USP, and certifications could guarantee a measure of safety.


Supplements have become part and parcel of modern medicine, and the market has a lot to offer. One common herbal supplement is cat’s claw, extracted from Uncaria tomentosa and Uncariaguianensis trees. It dates back to the ancient times when traditional American medicine used it to heal infections and supposedly treat cancer. Today, the supplements are used to manage rheumatoid arthritis and boost immunity, although some claim it can help with many other health benefits, including allergies and AIDS. Since the information on its safety is lacking, pregnant and breastfeeding women and people with particular medical conditions should avoid it.

Crystal Kadir

MS, Durham University GP The work of a family doctor includes a wide range of clinical diversity, which requires extensive knowledge and erudition from a specialist. However, I believe that the most important thing for a family doctor is to be human because the cooperation and understanding between the doctor and the patient are crucial in ensuring successful health care. On my days off, I love being in nature. Since childhood, I have been passionate about playing chess and tennis. Whenever I have time off, I enjoy traveling around the world.