Modern medicine with all its scientific and technological improvements stills achieves as in the past significant advances from nature. Five out of the ten leading U.S. prescription drugs and 75% of all cancer drugs were developed based on animal and plant research. Our overall health and life expectancies have improved substantially due to medicines developed from nature.
Quinine, cortisone, Novocain, leukemia drugs for children, and Captopril the first orally taken high blood pressure drug are but a few examples.
The global rainforests are the eco-friendliest and most varied environments on earth. They represent a enormous reservoir of knowledge and contain a wealth of ecosystems and wildlife, with many species both plant and animal still undiscovered.
The rainforests have and will continue to source many of these nature-based medications to benefit mankind. Our best friend, the canine, will also benefit from these discoveries. One emerging plant from the rainforests of the Amazon and South and Central America is cat’s claw.
Cat’s claw is a wide-ranging woody climbing vine that gains its name from the thorns growing along the stalk that resemble the claws of a cat. In the moist warm environment of the rainforest the plants can grow a 100 feet high into the tops of the trees.
Like many herbal and natural remedies cat’s claw has been in use for thousands of years. The aboriginal tribes of the rainforests still use it for many medicinal needs. Peru especially has a strong history of using and producing it for commercial use.
But unlike many of these remedies that come from the folklore cat’s claw has had significant studies and trials performed to verify its claims and has caught the attention of many notable researchers in the field of medical pharmacology.
The aboriginal populations of the vast Amazon rainforests that span Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana for centuries have been using cat’s claw for medicinal remedies and preventions for countless conditions including deep wounds, arthritis asthma, inflammations, internal cleanser to neutralize free radicals, dysentery, rheumatism, cancer, gonorrhea, and diabetes.
Cat’s claw received it first significant attention in the 1920s when Germans migrated to Peru and started using it to successfully treat rheumatism and cancer. So after studies started in Europe and England raising its popularity. Since, credible studies and clinical trials have been conducted worldwide in such countries as Argentina, Austria, Canada, China, England, Germany, Italy, Peru, Sweden, and the United States. These studies and trials have documented positive results against a wide range of maladies such as Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease, DNA damage, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Leukemia, lymphoma, and Osteoarthritis. In addition which also speaks highly of its possibilities multiple patents have been filed in the United States concerning Cat’s Claw and it was ranked as one of the top 10 most popular herbs.
Cat’s claw contains numerous active compounds that are phytochemicals with powerful therapeutic qualities. These all have pronounced physiological actions and include alkaloids, glycosides, tannins, flavonoids, sterol fractions, plant sterols, and antioxidant chemicals.
Because cat’s claw contains such diverse and extensive biologically active compounds it has positive therapeutic cures and preventions for likewise diverse and extensive medical issues including arthritis, diverticulitis, colitis, gastritis, hemorrhoids, cold sores, herpes, hay fever, high blood pressure and even birth control. It has been shown to enhance the effectiveness of vaccines. In addition by cleansing the intestinal walls, it facilitates the body to better absorb minerals, vitamins, and proteins essential for growth and the maintenance of good health.
Even though the extensive studies, clinical trials, and folklore that document cat’s claw’s therapeutic benefits is all associated with humans there is no reason to believe it would not be as beneficial for your dog. Many of these medicinal problems and related studies, observations, and personal experiences take significant effort and prolong time periods to effectively determine if cat’s claw performs as asserted. Therefore for dogs there is little or no verified information on its value. The property of cat’s claw needing relatively very high strength and quantity of stomach acid to facilitate the decomposition of the tannins and alkaloids during digestion is significant when developing a thesis for its beneficial use for dogs. A dog’s stomach acid is 10 times stronger than that of humans meaning that cat’s claw in the dog’s digestive tract will be more effective in assimilating the herb into the body’s cellular structure.
The anti-inflammatory properties have been shown to be highly beneficial for dogs for the treatment of joint problems . The medicinal effects for reducing inflammation and pain for damaged joints, muscles, or tendon & ligaments can usually be realized and recognized in a reasonably short period of time, as short as a few hours.
All joint products whether for humans, horses, or canines typically contain Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and Methyl-Sulfonyl-Methane (MSM). In addition many also contain the additional beneficial compounds Hyaluronic Acid and Cetyl Myristoleate. These complexes of compounds promote healing of the cartilage, meniscus, tendons, and joint membranes.
Since there is almost always inflammation associated with problem joints a good natural anti-inflammatory compound such as cat’s claw is a very beneficial addition to these compounds. By quickly reducing the inflammation in a damaged joint you promote healing by allowing it to be used without the pain and restrictive movement that the inflammation causes. This then in turn gets more blood flowing through the joint promoting healing.
If your dog has symptoms of joint discomfort you need to start using a joint care product and it should contain cat’s claw. The symptoms are obviously all involved with physical movement. They include difficulty either laying down or raising up, slow and measured when walking, straining to get over objects or up stairs, inflammation and tenderness around joints, excessive breathlessness when moving and exercising, hobbling or repeatedly not using a leg, or simply not wanting to chase that ball that they dropped at your feet.
In conclusion, considerable amounts of information on cat’s claw for this article were acquired from the book “The Saga of the Cat’s Claw by Dr. Cabieses. Dr. Cabieses has very distinguished credentials. Beneficial medicinal properties of many plants, herbs, and natural compounds are based on folklore and promoted by commercial profit interests , not by sufficient testing and trials. From the research cat’s claw is different. To support this thesis; The closing statement from Dr. Cabieses’ book is included below.
The proper design of research protocols for human application in neoplastic diseases and in severe problems of immune deficiency (AIDS) is not child’s play, and the limits between the possible and the desirable are frequently cloudy and diffuse. A link between “in vitro” and “in vivo” is now being designed in Peruvian medical institutions of great prestige like the University Cayetano Heredia and Instituto Nacional de Enfermedades Neoplasicas, as well as under the direction of experts in alternative medicines like natural medicine (Father Edmundo Szeliga, Doctor Mirez, Doctor Lida Obregon) and homeopathy (Dr. F. P. Iaccarino). This leads me to believe that it won’t be too long, dear reader, before you and I can sit down together again for a second edition of this monograph.
Meanwhile, what should we do? What should you and I do with all the information invading our homes and our hospitals about cat’s claw in Peru? What do we do, dear aunt of my neighbor? What do we do, dear doctor, respected colleague? Do we resist the tide and abstain from using this interesting plant of our jungle? What do we tell our friend, the desperate father of the young fellow who has AIDS? Do we tell him to ignore this ray of hope? Do we, as doctors, tell our patient suffering from a malignant tumor not to seek refuge in cat’s claw, at least to satisfy his desperate relatives? Or do we tell our patients and our friends to buy a ticket to this lottery and see what happens with cat’s claw? Do we love cat’s claw or not? Do we accept it or prohibit it?
Biology’s dizzying advances have confronted us with hundreds of dilemmas like this one. When you face a true dilemma, you suddenly find that you have no answers. A dilemma is a question without answers. Or, to put it better, a dilemma is a question with two or more answers, whose every answer is at once attractive and defensible and capable of leading us to defeat and frustration. Modern biology has brought us to a vast field paved with dilemmas like this; disoriented, we now seek satisfaction for all our doubts and questions. Such satisfaction does not exist. A road there must be built and found in the labyrinth of biological dilemmas, and the way to do so is called Bio-ethics.
The ethics of Biology: a science that still does not clearly exist. An elusive, slippery, unattainable moral law. A set of rules where it is always difficult to find what is good, what is proper, what is just. A time bomb hidden behind each scientific discovery.
That is why I wrote this book. To shed some light on this difficult path. Here we have a “new” medication which is recommended and praised by many people who have used it. Here we have scientific evidence that it is not toxic. Laboratory tests carried out in serious academic institutions prove that the extracts of this plant have clear anti-inflammatory effects, that it has some action modulating the immune mechanisms, and that, in certain circumstances, it inhibits the crazed growth of cancerous cells. . . .
So we still have not identified the active principal? We have not identified how it works? For two hundred years, quina bark saved more lives annually than those killed by the atomic bomb in 1945. And during all those years, nobody knew that there was an alkaloid which would later be named Quinine. For a hundred years, humankind used aspirin to stop pain and inflammation, though nobody knew until the discovery of prostaglandins why it worked.
Of course, in this dangerous quagmire of official indecision, the indifference of the authorities and the absence of controls acts as an incentive to fraud, to the illegal substitution of products, to falsification, adulteration and deceit. These should lead us, physicians and conscientious citizens, to help our patients and friends help themselves against con artists and quacks and who promote spurious and adulterated products. All physicians who have patients taking this particular medicinal plant should try to document seriously and scientifically all those cases, positive or negative, in order to gather enough scientific information about the medical effects of cats claw.