Scientific name: Uncaria tomentosa

Common names: Uña de gato, paraguayo, garabato, garbato casha, samento, toroñ, tambor huasca, uña huasca, uña de gavilan, …

Ayurvedic names:

Chinese names:  钩藤 /猫爪草

Bangladesh names: papri

Arabic names:   مخلب القط  (mekhlab al qitt)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Fabaceae?

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Root, bark


Annual/Perennial: Perennial

Height: 30 m

Actions: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer agents and also used as intestinal ailments

Known Constituents:

Constituents Explained:


Used as a herb to enhance immune system function and to help those recovering from illness.  It is used in South America and Peru to assist the body in times of cancer, and to support the immune system while it deals with HIV.

Touted as an anti flammatory it is sometimes employed in gastric ulceration, and joint pain.

Traditional Use:

Clinical Studies:

A study evaluated the safety and clinical efficacy of a plant extract from the pentacyclic chemotype of Uncaria tomentosa (UT) in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Forty patients undergoing sulfasalazine or hydroxychloroquine treatment were enrolled in a randomized 52 week, 2 phase study. During the first phase (24 weeks, double blind, placebo controlled), patients were treated with UT extract or placebo. In the second phase (28 weeks) all patients received the plant extract.

Twenty-four weeks of treatment with the UT extract resulted in a reduction of the number of painful joints compared to placebo. 

Patients receiving the UT extract only during the second phase experienced a reduction in the number of painful and swollen joints. Only minor side effects were observed.

This small preliminary study demonstrates relative safety and modest benefit to the tender joint count of a highly purified extract from the pentacyclic chemotype of UT in patients with active RA taking sulfasalazine or hydroxychloroquine.


Mur E, Hartig F, Eibl G, Schirmer M. “Randomized Double Blind Trial Of An Extract From The Pentacylic Alkaloid-Chemotype Of Uncaria Tomentosa For The Treatment Of Rheumatoid Arthritis.” 2002 April