Uncaria tomentosa: properties and benefits
The Andean people call it “cat’s claw”, due to the similarity of its thorns to the nails of this feline, it is a liana, climbing plant, native to South America, whose term ‘tomentosa’, which means ‘hairy’, is to indicate the long hairs on the lower edge of the leaf. In phytotherapy the bark is used for the immunostimulant, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.
The bark of the uncaria tomentosa boasts properties already known in the Traditional Andean Medicine, which has always used its extracts to fight and prevent infections and to burn up the aching joints. The Peruvian people, in fact, use it to heal wounds, ulcerations, disorders related to puerperium, degenerative pathologies, gastrointestinal diseases and pains. Today western phytotherapy considers it an immunostimulant plant, extremely effective for treating first the most common colds. And not only.
The properties of the uncaria tomentosa and natural remedies against allergies, infections and fever
The immunostimulatory action of the uncaria tomentosa is conferred by the presence of pentacyclic alkaloids, which allow the regulation and proliferation of B and T lymphocytes responsible for the immune response.
The uncaria is able to potentiate the activity of NK cells and T lymphocytes, therefore it appears to have as its elective target both specific and non-specific cytotoxic cells and to enhance the activity of cytotoxic T lymphocytes. For this reason it is indicated in the treatment of allergies; to strengthen immune defenses against infections caused by viruses and bacteria; and in the prevention of cooling diseases of the upper airways such as fever, cough and colds.
It has obvious antiviral properties, both internally and externally, demonstrated by clinical studies conducted on patients with Herpes: in 85% of the subjects the symptoms ceased in 10 days. In the case of Varicella zoster the resolution occurred in 50% of cases in 1 week of treatment.
Among the other active ingredients that make up the phytocomplex, quinovico acid glycosides are responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties, along with sterols and polyphenols, which make it an effective remedy for anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving action, useful in the treatment of rheumatism and arthrosis, inflammatory processes , osteoarticular and muscular pains.
Nowadays, in herbal medicine all over the world, the uncaria is especially known for itsanti-inflammatory , immunostimulant and immunomodulatory properties but also as a pain-relieving and healing agent .
Powerful immunostimulant, protector of the immune system and in cases of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
For these properties it is used both in prophylaxis and as an adjunct in the treatment of various diseases with immunological origin, chronic inflammation states of all kinds, muscle-joint pains , of digestive disorders and infections caused by herpes viruses and retroviruses.
For example, its use has been proposed against inflammatory states detected in the joints of people suffering from knee osteoarthritis since a clinical study on subjects suffering from knee osteoarthritis shows an effective ability of the Uncaria extract to reduce the associated symptoms. to this pathology. Furthermore, it appears to be useful as a mild adjuvant in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Traditional medicine also uses it for pains associated with pregnancy and childbirth .
The results of the research, the effectiveness of the uncaria tomentosa
Standardized preparations of Uncaria tomentosa have been authorized in various parts of Europe, aimed primarily at disorders of the immune system and as an adjuvant therapy in tumors to alleviate the side effects of radium and chemotherapy (such as hair loss, weight loss, nausea, infections secondary, and skin problems). This use is supported by some research that has discovered that Uncaria can help repair cellular DNA and prevent cells from mutating. They have also shown that it can help prevent the loss of white blood cells and immune damage caused by many chemotherapy drugs .
Uncaria tomentosa and possible contraindications
As side effects it has been observed that an overdose can give rise to mild gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea and pain, which however disappear quickly after stopping the intake.
Because of its immunostimulating effects, the uncaria must not be used with drugs intended to suppress the immune system, such as cyclosporine or other drugs prescribed following an organ transplant.