Cat’s Claw to Enhance the Immune System

Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is an plant found in the highlands of Peru’s Amazon rainforest. Cat’s Claw contains oxindole alkaloids, especially the pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids and other compounds. Cat’s claw alkaloids have been particularly associated with enhancing immune system cell function, including phagocytosis and macrophage activity.

Cat’s Claw Benefits and Immune System

Especially, the pentacyclic oxindole alkaloid, isopteropodine, enhances phagocytic activity of white  blood cells. Additionally stimulate  production of interleukin-1 and -6 in alveolar  macrophages, suggesting a potent immunostimulant  effect. Austrian researcher Klaus Keplinger has obtained two US patents for isolating some of the herb’s important components. Lab experiments has shown these alkaloids to have a pronounced enhancement effect on phagocytosis. According to Keplinger’s research, 4 alkaloids have been shown to have a pronounced enhancement activity on phagocytosis.  According to both patents, the most immunologically active alkaloid is isopteropodine or isomer A.

Some cat’s claw have POAs, while others tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids (TOAs), which do not help the immune system at all. It was found that two chemotypes of Uncaria tomentosa with different alkaloid patterns occur in nature. The roots of one type contain pentacyclic oxindoles and the other contains tetracyclic oxindoles. TOAs (tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids) act on the central nervous system, whereas POAs (pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids) affect the cellular immune system. Several in-vitro studies have shown that  POAs (pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids)-containing cat’s claw products activate both T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes and enhance the phagocyte performance rate of the granulocytes and of cells in the reticul-endothelial system. POAs increases the production of interleukin, a chemical protein secreted by macrophages that alerts resting white blood cells and forces them into action and helps make other biochemicals that are beneficial to the immune system.

A study demonstrates that cat’s claw may help boost the efficacy of vaccines. When adults supplemented with cat’s claw for two months before receiving a pneumonia vaccination, their antibody titers remained at higher levels 5 months longer than in the control group. An extract form Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) known as C-Med 100 induces prolonged lymphocyte half life and therefore increased spleen cell number in mice dosed with this extract in their drinking water. Also, there were no detectable changes of the lymphoid structure of the spleen even after prolonged therapy. When the therapy with the C-Med 100 extract was interrupted, the cellular components returned to normal levels within 1 month.  The scientists concluded that the use of C-Med 100 could be a potential agent for clinically accelerating patients’ recovery from leukopenia.

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