Medicinal Herbs and ADHD

Key Topics: Immune & Inflammation
September 4, 2020 • 32:01 min

About this Episode

Today we are talking about cat’s claw for immunity and recovery with naturopath and medical herbalist Berris Burgoyne, who joins our host, nutritionist Sara Le Brun Blashka, for the fifth episode of our special series on Medicinal Herbs. Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is an herb native to the South and Central American tropical rain forest associated with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity.

Cat’s claw came to the attention of the European scientific community after an Austrian scientist heard about its healing qualities (02:51). Many plants around the world may be called “cat’s claw” because of the distinct thorns and barbs that give the plant its namesake, but Uncaria tumentosa is the main species associated with cat’s claw’s health benefits (03:08). Another species of cat’s claw, U. guianensis, is also utilized by herbalists, but U. guianensis contains lower levels of alkaloids and flavanols than U. tomentosa.

What Is a Chemotype?

U. tomentosa has multiple chemotypes that appear “botanically identical” but have differing phytochemistry (07:12). Laboratory testing can help distinguish between the chemotypes, making testing very important for herbalists wanting to ensure they have the appropriate chemotype of U. tomentosa for use in their practice. Chemotypes may differ on their concentration of pentacyclic oxindole alkaloid (POA) and tetracyclic oxindole alkaloid (TOA) (07:54).

Cat’s Claw Environmental Concerns

Utilizing U. tomentosa’s root versus the stalk bark yields higher concentrations of POAs; however, harvesting the root destroys the plant, while harvesting the stalk bark leaves the plant intact to continue growing (12:10). The difference in these two utilizations of the plant parts reflects a controversy in the sustainability of cat’s claw and presents a debate over how to best cultivate the plant to both yield high concentrations of POAs and keep the plant population growing for years to come.

Cat’s Claw for Immunity and Other Clinical Uses

In Berris Burgoyne’s clinic, she uses cat’s claw in three main ways (16:05):

  • Tonic activity
  • Recovery from illness
  • Support immunity

She often uses cat’s claw in combination with tonic and adaptogenic herbs (17:21):

>> Audio bookmark (Is Cat’s Claw Safe for Children Recovering from Illness?): “It’s recommended that children under three are not given [cat’s claw] … just because there’s no data on safety in children.” (21:30)

Scientifically driven. Education focused. Healing Inspired.

Subscribe to Insights

Receive clinically driven nutrition insights you can trust.

Animated Newsletter WM

Join Our Community to Read Further

This is a premium article created for our Healthcare Practitioner readers. Create a free account to continue reading and gain full access.



WholisticMatters offers health care practitioners and nutrition enthusiasts alike the opportunity to create a free profile for access to site features like bookmarking. Enjoying an article you are reading or a video you are watching? Save it to come back to later! Sign up in seconds for continuous access to all that WholisticMatters has to offer.

WholisticMatters also offers health care practitioners who create a free user profile access to exclusive content and tools to utilize in clinical practice. Articles, tools, and downloads created specifically for practitioners to use in their office for better patient education in clinical nutrition and health. Sign up today with your email and credentials so we can confirm you as a health care practitioner, and you are free to peruse the resources unique to you and your colleagues in health.


Create Your Account:

show-pass Please use 8 or more characters with a mix of letters, numbers & symbols

Create a free account to use our great bookmarking tool

Once your account is created, you'll be able to save and organize what matters to you!

Already have an Account? Login Here

Click 'Sign Up' above to accept Wholistic Matters's Terms of Service & Privacy Policy.

Are you a Healthcare Professional? Sign Up For Free Access!

We'll verify your credentials and get you access to our great interactive tools.

Already have an Account? Login Here

Click 'Sign Up' above to accept Wholistic Matters's Terms of Service & Privacy Policy.