During a time when doctor costs and insurance costs are rising, we might want to learn a little bit about some of the herbal remedies for some of our ailments. Although I must stress that anytime you use herbs for medicinal purposes, please consult your doctor before using them. This is particularly important if you are currently taking medications.

This issue we will discuss one of those specific herbs. The herb that we intend to cover is Cat's claw. This herb has become very popular and is definitely worth discussing. Most of the information provided comes from the "ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs" by Mark Blumenthal. If you really want to get into herbs, buy the book. It gives you extensive background information on all of the research used to validate the herbs in the book. As you well know, we don't like to dilly dally here at Semper Fitness, so let's get on with the scoop.

Cat's claw is the common name for at least 20 plants with sharp, curved thorns. We will discuss two of them in the overview; Uncaria tomentosa (UT) and Uncaria guianensis (UG). Indigenous people of South America have used both to treat health problems including rheumatism, arthritis, and other chronic inflammatory disorders, gastric ulcers, gastrointestinal disorders, tumors, and as a contraceptive.

Primary uses:


- osteoarthritis (of the knee); reduces pain

- Rheumatoid arthritis, adjunct therapy to conventional treatment; reduces number of painful and swollen joints

Other potential uses:

- enhanced DNA repair; extends immunity from pheumonia vaccine

- ulcers and gastritis; in cancer patients as an adjunctive to chemotherapy and radiation increases vitality and reduces side effects; in HIV patients as an adjunctive to antiretroviral therapy stabilizes and/or reduces CD4-cell count, increases vitality an

d mobility, and reduces HIV-related symptoms; externall, active against Herpes simplex and Varicella-zoster

Dosage and Administration:

At this time, there is little scientific information on how long cat's claw can be consumed safely. Published clinical trials have been conducted from 4 weeks to 1 year of continuous internal use, while unpublished treatment observations report continuous (uncontrolled) use for up to 10 years. There are no known reports of adverse effects associated with use of cat's claw preparations for extended periods.

- UG - Capsules: aqueous extract of bark powder, freeze-dried 100 mg 1-3x/day

- UT - Capsules: 350-500 mg 1-2x/day

Drug Interactions:

- UG: none reported

- UT: unspecified: May potentially reduce the metabolism rate.

That's the scoop on the herb Cat's Claw. If you suffer from some of the symptoms that this herb treats, you might want to give it a try. Again, remember to consult a physician if you intend to use any type of herb. Until the next issue of Semper Fitness, stay pumped, stay motivated and oo-rah!

Semper Fi!