What is Cat’s Claw?

Cat’s Claw is the bark and root parts of a woody vine which grows in the “montaña” part of the Peruvian Amazon, which is the cooler, higher elevation part of the Amazon (approximately 600-1000 meters above sea level). The root of the plant, which may contain a higher percentage of some phytoactives is illegal to be collected in Peru, because it endangers the survival of the species. Another species is also known as Uña de Gato (Cat’s Claw). This species, Uncaria guianensis, grows at sea level and low altitudes, and does not contain the immune system strengthening compounds of Uncaria tomentosa, although it has the other beneficial properties. This is a cheaper more abundant species to collect and the bark from both plants is virtually indistinguishable. The easiest way to tell the two species apart is by the leaf. Uncaria tomentosa has fine hairs which grow on the underside of the leaf. Ultimately, the best insurance that you are getting the correct species of Cat’s Claw in your herbal extract is both the reputation of the Herbal company you buy from and “finger print” of the plant being sold. These will soon be available for inspection through Whole World Botanicals.