A recent study by Peruvian researchers suggests that two species of the Amazonian medicinal plant Cat’s Claw, appear to possess strong antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties that may be effective treatments for osteoarthritis of the knee.
In a four week trial, scientists at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Facultad de Medicina, in Lima, Peru, recruited 45 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee to collect safety and tolerance information, and to compare the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions of Cat’s Claw.
Thirty patients were separated into two treatment groups. The first group of 30 patients was administered two species of freeze-dried Cat’s Claw (Uncaria guianensis and Uncaria tomentosa) as treatment, while the remaining 15 patients of the second group received placebo. Patients were assessed for pain relief, symptoms of adverse effects, and evidence of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. These assessments were collected during weeks 1, 2, and 4 of the study period.
The researchers found that both medical and patient pain assessment scores were significantly reduced upon treatment, with patients showing improvements within the first week of therapy. However, knee pain at rest or at night, and knee circumference due to swelling, were not significantly reduced by Cat’s Claw during this brief trial. In vitro tests indicated that each species of Cat’s Claw were equally effective at blocking free radicals, as well as inhibiting TNF-alpha production, a main cause of joint inflammation.
All tests suggested that Cat’s Claw is a relatively safe treatment, and did not show any unexpected or obscure effects on blood or liver function, or other significant side effects compared to placebo.