Health Benefits of Amazon Rainforest Herbs: Uña de Gato

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About Uña de Gato

Uncaria tomentosa is known as Cat’s Claw, Uña de Gato in Spanish, because of its characteristic claw-shaped thorns. The plant is a climbing, twisting vine that can grow up to 100 feet in length, often climbing up along a tree. It differs from U. guianensis, which is also called cat’s claw but has different thorns and leaves.

Uña de Gato is perhaps one of the best known Amazon Rainforest herbs, and is widely available both as an individual herb and in combination with others. The inner bark, stem, and root bark are all used in preparations. It is available in capsule or tablet form, and as extracts, tinctures, teas and decoctions.

Its traditional uses include use for arthritis, as a contraceptive, for digestive conditions, and for skin conditions.

Benefits of Uña de Gato

Immune Support

Uña de Gato is commonly used to strengthen immune function.

Pain & Inflammation

Uña de Gato is anti-inflammatory and is used to relieve pain and inflammation in arthritis, bursitis and rheumatism. According to at least one source it is the best single herb for symptoms of fibromyalgia. It also helps relieve inflammation from joint injury, lupus, shingles, and tendonitis.


Uña de Gato has been effective against viral infections including genital herpes and herpes zoster, as well as HIV. It is also effective for candidiasis. It also reduced the side effects of the drug AZT for HIV patients.

Cancer & Tumors

Used in treatment of cancer, Uña de Gato was shown to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. It helps to reconstitute cells and shrink tumors. It was shown to inhibit proliferation of a human breast cancer cell line. In addition, it promoted significant recovery of white blood cells after use of the chemotherapy drug DXR (doxorubicin).

Cardiovascular System

An alkaloid found in the bark has been shown to inhibit platelet aggregation and thrombosis. Una de gato may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by reducing blood pressure and by inhibiting plaque deposits in arteries and formation of blood clots.


Uña de Gato aids with gastritis, ulcers, and various intestinal disorders. It is effective for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and leaky gut syndrome, and can inhibit stress-induced ulcer formation. It is also used for diarrhea and stomach aches.

Other Uses

Uña de Gato’s many other uses include acne, depression, diabetes, and lupus. It is an anti-edemic and is beneficial for individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome, PMS, or environmental toxicity. It is also used to cleanse the kidneys and for recovery from childbirth.

The herb shows the ability to fight chronic intestinal inflammation due to ongoing use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and to inhibit formation and growth of plaque deposits in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.


While experts do not fully agree on the contraindications forUña de Gato, it is best for people in the following situations to check with a physician and/or herbalist:

  • Pregnant or nursing
  • Taking anti-ulcer medication, blood thinners such as Coumadin, anti-hypertensives
  • On immunosuppressive therapy

Uña de Gato may selectively alter production of progesterone and estrogen with long-term use.


Please read this disclaimer regarding the information contained within this article.

Sources & Resources

Amazon Herbs A-Z: Herbal Recipes & Remedies, V. Osalina Berman

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Herbal Remedies, Frankie Avalon Wolfe

Herbal Therapy & Supplements: A Scientific & Traditional Approach, Merrily A. Kuhn, David Winston, & Ara DerMarderosian

Botanical Medicines: The Desk Reference for Major Herbal Supplements, Dennis J. McKenna, Kenneth Jones & Kerry Hughes

This post is part of the series: Amazon Rainforest Herbs

Learn about the health benefits of a series of Amazon Rainforest Herbs, based on traditional use in indigenous communities and on research studies.

  1. Health Benefits of Amazon Rainforest Herbs: Sangre de Drago
  2. Health Benefits of Amazon Rainforest Herbs: Uña de Gato
  3. Health Benefits of Amazon Rainforest Herbs: Jatoba
  4. Health Benefits of Amazon Rainforest Herbs: Suma
  5. Health Benefits of Amazon Rainforest Herbs: Chanca Piedra (Quebra Pedra)