Cat's Claw and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Published Online: Saturday, February 1, 2003

The Latin name for a certain plant is Uncaria tomentosa. The common name in Peru, where it grows, is Cat?s Claw. It seems to be an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). At least, that is the conclusion of a study conducted at Innsbruck University Hospital in Vienna, Austria.

Dr. Erich Mur of the hospital?s rheuma-tology outpatient department conducted a study involving 40 patients with active RA. The patients were taking sulfa-salazine or hydroxychloroquine, as well as corticosteroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Dr. Mur left them on that regimen for the first 24 weeks of the study. In the second, 28-week phase, however, he added a standardized extract of Uncaria tomentosa.

As reported in the Journal of Rheumatology, treatment with the extract reduced the number of painful joints by 53%, compared with 24% for patients given an inactive placebo. In the second phase, the number of swollen joints, as well as the number of tender joints, was found to be reduced in the study patients. In addition, ?One advantage of using the plant is that there were no or only minor side effects,? Dr. Mur said.

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