The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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The status of cat’s claw to treat osteoporosis

There are some small studies in patients, and now there’s a review that connects the clinical response and mechanisms of action of two species of cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa and Uncaria guianensis).

Here’s an example of what’s reported.
In a comparison of U. guianensis vs placebo in 45 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee?

  • Pain associated with activity significantly reduced
  • Medical and patient assessment scores significantly reduced
  • Benefits occurred in the first week of treatment


  • Knee pain at rest or at night, and knee circumference were not significantly reduced by cat’s claw.

How does cat’s claw work?
Although both species of cat’s claw are used, commercial preparations usually contain U. tomentosa because of the ease of standardization.

Dr. Sonya Hardin from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte has published a detailed review. She discusses a long list of enzymes and proteins that cat’s claw inhibits in the lab. Most interesting is the finding that it inhibits the action of NF-?B (nuclear factor-kappa B), which happens to be the way salicylates and glucorticoids work.

The bottom line, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

  • Insufficient evidence to determine how well cat’s claw works for any health problem.
  • Small studies in humans show a possible benefit of cat’s claw in osteoarthritis.
  • No large trials have been done.
  • Cat’s claw is not proved to reduce inflammation or enhance the immune system in humans.

4/23/07 10:37 JR

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