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Cat's Claw, Uncaria tomentosa

Cat’s Claw: Amazonian Roots and Modern Appeal

By: Andrés Molestina G

Deep in the Amazon, a special vine has been weaving its story among the tribes. This isn’t just any vine; it’s the Uncaria tomentosa, or as the locals call it, Cat’s Claw. From being a part of age-old tribal ceremonies to now gracing modern health stores, this vine’s journey is nothing short of epic. So, let’s take a walk down memory lane and see how Cat’s Claw transitioned from the Amazonian tribes to our modern-day health regimens.

Cat’s Claw in Tribal Times

Before the world got small, the Cat’s Claw was an important plant to all tribes in South and central America. For the Ashaninka it was the “guardian of health” ensuring that diseases were prevented. On the other hand, the Quechua saw it as a ‘clearing wind’ if there was difficulty in breathing.

However it was not only about health. The Shipibo-Conibo among other tribes believed that the vine was a means of reaching the spirit dimension allowing the community to interact and communicate with the netherworld. The plant was much more than just that – it was part of their spiritual arsenal.

Cat’s Claw’s benefits

As the 20th century rolled around and the world became more connected, Amazon’s secrets started making headlines. And right in the thick of things was our vine, the Cat’s Claw bark. Researchers, with their fancy labs and equipment, started digging deeper. They found hints that this vine might be good for more than just tribal rituals. Studies suggested it helps with inflammation, making it a potential ally against conditions like arthritis. And if that wasn’t enough, there were whispers about its antioxidant powers, which could help keep those dirty free radicals in check. Before you knew it, health stores started stocking up on Cat’s Claw extract. From being a tribal secret, it was now a global wellness trend.

The Science Behind Cat’s Claw

Now, every good story needs some solid facts, right? And Cat’s Claw has plenty of those. Researchers on PubMed decided to take a closer look and found that this vine might have a soft spot for the immune system. Then there was this massive review on ResearchGate that was like a tribute to the vine, talking about everything from its tribal uses to its chemical makeup. And the deep dives didn’t stop there. Over at ScienceDirect, they deep dived and explored the vine’s chemistry, especially those isopteropodine and rhynchophylline alkaloids that everyone’s talking about.  These alkaloids can increase memory and learning. Also can help repair brain cell damage caused by strokes. In a blink of an eye Uncaria tomentosa has been recognized as a nootropic in the biohacking community. For those unfamiliar, nootropic is commonly referred to as a “smart drug” due to their cognitive boosting properties,while biohacking is the innovative practice of naturally enhancing the body from within. So, in simpler terms, you use nootropics to biohack, or naturally amplify, your body’s capabilities.

Epic Journey

From the heart of the Amazon, where time seems to stand still, to the fast paced and demanding modern world, Cat’s Claw has had quite the ride. It’s a story of tradition, nature, and a dash of science. So, the next time you come across Cat’s Claw, remember, it’s not just a vine; it’s a piece of history, a slice of the Amazon, and perhaps, a touch of magic.

References:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15070175/ 

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/339848824_Uncaria_tomentosa_A_Review_on_Traditional_Uses_Bioactive_Chemical_Constituents_and_Pharmacological_and_Toxicological_Activities 

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/B9780444634733000125 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10328636/ 

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