Based on test tube studies, the plant cat's claw may be beneficial for the immune system, decreasing blood pressure levels and as a diuretic. It also may be useful for different types of arthritis. Due to its antioxidant properties, cat's claw may help with the damage caused by free radicals in the body, states the University of Maryland Medical Center.
There are two varieties of this plant, which are Uncaria tormentosa and Uncaria guianensis. Cat's claw has many purported medicinal uses, including treatment of gastritis, diverticulitis, shingles, fatigue, cancer, viral infections and for purifying the kidneys. Cat's claw may work against cancer cells and viruses or for the stimulation of the immune system because it contains certain chemical compounds, according to WebMD. Some chemicals found in cat's claw are sterols, tannin, different alkaloids and quinovic acid glycosides.
Although there are only a few limited studies on the effect of cat's claw for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, some of these studies suggest that the plant may possibly be effective for these arthritic conditions, as noted by WebMD. In the case of osteoarthritis, one study indicated that it could help the symptom of knee pain without causing any side effects.
Another small study, which investigated cat's claw effect on patients who were also taking rheumatoid treatment medications, showed that it helped in reducing joint inflammation, as stated by the University of Maryland Medical Center. However, cat's claw was not helpful in preventing the further worsening of joint damage. Additionally, more research studies are necessary to investigates cat's claw effect for many of the other purported medical uses.