I am a 33 year old man living in San Francisco, California. I have been HIV positive since 2003. I took HIV medication on and off from 2004 up to 2009. At one point, my T-cells were below 100. In October of 2009, I decided to get off the HIV medication and to fight the virus naturally with powerful foods, supplements and lifestyle changes. This website’s purpose is to share the things that I have learned on the way.

Cat’s Claw (Una De Gato) – A Plant Ally to help fight HIV – Health Benefits and Personal Experiences – How to prepare it

Posted: June 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: HIV, Plants and supplements | 2 Comments »

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and I am not pretending to be a doctor.  I am talking about what I have taken to heal myself.  Use your best judgement and consult with a doctor.  And then, depending on how open minded your doctor is, take that consultation with a grain of salt.

Cat’s claw is one of the better researched herbs out there. Cat’s Claw is a vine that grows with thorns that look like the claw of a cat.  It has been studied in clinical trials for cancer since the 70′s, and has been been used by the Aguaruna, Asháninka, Cashibo, Conibo, and Shipibo tribes in South and Central American reportedly for 200o years. Cat’s claw is known as one of the helper plants in Ayahuasca shamanism in the Amazon, and is used extensively with Ayahuasca.  Cat’s claw is known as the “opener of the way” among vegetalistas and curanderos (healer-shamans in the Amazon).

Health benefits

  • “In vitro studies show that the alkaloids from Cat’s claw enhance phagocytosis, display immunomodulatory properties, alleviate inflammation, and possess anti-viral activity”  - A well researched article from Sloan-Ketterling states that Cat’s Claw “(link)
  • It’s been used to treat many conditions including HIV/AIDS, cancer, peptic ulcer, Lyme disease, colds, bowel disorders, and arthritis.  - link for next 5 bullets
  • For HIV: “Cat’s Claw can help the body regulate T-Cell formation to a normal level which is important in HIV/AIDs. This prevents overstimulation of the immune system which can provoke a Herpes outbreak and prevent recurrence of infections of thrush and other Candida infections. It is documented to have caused remission of Kaposi’s sarcoma which is a common cancer in AIDS and appears to aid in prevention of HIV becoming drug resistant.”
  • For Cancer:  “Cat’s Claw appears to act by decreasing the total number of white blood cell if counts are high and increasing the number of white blood cells if low. Particularly important when focused on cancer treatment is that it does not stimulate body to overproduce white blood cells which can damage noncancerous tissues.”-
  • For Arthritis: “Cat’s Claw has been shown to be a source of sterols, plant compounds that form the building blocks for anti-inflammatory steroids. Animal studies have shown that supplements may reduce swelling by as much as 50%.”
  • For Bowel Disorders: “Cat’s claw appears to be of some benefit in gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease, chemo-induced gastritis, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome by aiding in detoxification of the GI tract and regulation of the immune system.  It may also help to encourage healthy bacteria”
  • for Yeast Infections: Cat’s claw seems to make a serious dent in Candida.

I personally intuit that the magic in Cat’s Claw is what it does for your stomach.  I am beginning to think that Candida toxicity plays a major role in the HIV infection cycle as well as poorly digested food.  I noticed that I am far less gassy if I drink Cat’s Claw regularly, and gassiness is a tell-tell sign that food is not being digested and absorbed properly.

According to the Sloan-Ketterling article, Cat’s claw may have the following drug-herb interactions.  I am not talking ANY drugs.

  • Antihypertensives: Cat’s claw may have an additive or synergistic hypotensive effect.
  • Anticoagulants / Antiplatelets: Cat’s claw may have an additive anticoagulant effect.
  • CYP3A4: In vitro, cat’s claw inhibits CYP3A4, indicating that it may theoretically increase the serum levels of drugs such as nonnucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitors, cyclosporine, and some benzodiazepines (8).
  • Protease Inhibitors: Cat’s claw was shown to increase the serum concentrations of atazanavir, ritonavir and saquinavir (15).

This is a great technical data sheet on cat’s claw.

How to prepare the Cat’s Claw decoction or Cat’s Claw Tea

A decoction is the method of extraction by boiling plant material.  I have also seen cat’s claw as a fluid extract or sold as capsules.  I keep a bottle of NOW Cat’s Claw “5000″ around.  Sometimes it’s not practical to keep liquid Cat’s Claw around , like when I’m on a trip or away from the house for the night.  It is my impression and intuition that the capsule is not as effective as a home-made decoction, but it’s still better than nothing.

I like to order the root powder from Rain-tree.com. (link)  I’m sure there are other good distributors of Cat’s Claw out there, but I really like the founder of Rain-tree, Leslie Taylor’s story. She calls herself “the white witch of the amazon”, and that just tickles me, as I am a witch myself.  She understand the shamanic/ spiritual purpose of plants in addition to documenting the medical properties of them.  Most importantly, she understands that the Amazon jungle is one of the world’s most precious medicinal resources and she’s committed to sustainable harvesting as well as an ethical distribution chain.  One might say that the work that she’s doing in the Amazon is helping to combat the tide of Amazon deforestation by showing indigenous people how to sustainably harvest medicinal herbs.  Here’s a bit about the company story.

Now I don’t want this article to turn into a commercial for Rain-tree, but if you buy Cat’s Claw online, please try to look for a seller with similar ethics.

I usually put about 1/3 cup of Cat’s Claw powder into my largest soup pot. I also add 1/3 cup with another Amazon  plant powder Chuchuhuasi, but that’s a whole other article.  Chuchuhuasi is not necessary to get the benefits of Cat’s Claw.  It’s just another plant that I take and it saves time to make them both in the same pot. Not all plants like to be boiled together, but these two seem to work well together.  I talk about these plants as if they have personalities, and in my mind they do.  Connecting with the anima/animus of the plant is a powerful way to activate your subconscious mind to heal your body.

Vegetistas in the Amazon (and some in this country) traditionally will sing to the plant as they are cooking it.  These spirit-medicine-songs are called icaros.  I’ll admit, I sing to it too.  It’s kinda fun and maybe there’s some efficacy to this ancient tradition.  Usually any tune will work, the point is really to show your respect for the plant.  The words that I sing are:

Una De Gato Soo-nah-rai which means   “Claw of the Cat resonate with me”

If singing to the plant doesn’t fit with your reality, then don’t do it. :)  The most important thing is the medical properties of the plant.

Fill the pot almost to the top with water (filtered is best) and turn the stove to a medium-low setting. I try to get the pot hot enough so that the liquid is being agitated, but it’s not over-boiling.  I’ve had the dark liquid bubble over many times to my partner’s chagrin (he likes a clean stove).

Cat's Claw that I store in the fridge

Cat's Claw that I store in the fridge

Let the liquid cook until the water is reduced by half.  I then take the pot off the stove, let it cool, pour it into a sealable glass jar and store it in the fridge. I used a container that I got from Ikea.  They’ve got a good cheap selection in all kinds of sizes.

When I’m ready to drink the Cat’s claw, I pour a mug half-way full with the cat’s claw, and then fill the rest of the cup with hot water.  The liquid is rather bitter, and diluting it definitely makes it more palatable.  Over time I’ve actually grown to like taste of Cat’s Claw because I associate it with what it does for my body.

in Summary

a cup of cat's claw

Mix half a mug of cat's claw with hot water.

Cat’s Claw is a powerful medicine on it’s own, but combined with other plants and herbs(such as Olive Leaf Extract, spirulina and Jergon Sacha) it may be able to turn the tide on HIV and other illnesses.  It has for me :)

Cat’s Claw is part of my daily regimen.

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2 Comments on “Cat’s Claw (Una De Gato) – A Plant Ally to help fight HIV – Health Benefits and Personal Experiences – How to prepare it”

  1. 1 The Olive Leaf Extract - A Natural Anti-viral and a Plant Ally in Fighting HIV | Healing HIV Naturally said at 12:45 am on June 2nd, 2010:

    [...] things that I am taking.  If supplements are like horses harnessed to a stagecoach, Olive Leaf and Cat’s Claw are very powerful horses, and are moving my body rapidly towards better [...]

  2. 2 Eating better food to fight HIV - Changes to make in your diet to turbo-charge your immune system. | Healing HIV Naturally said at 8:09 am on June 4th, 2010:

    [...] If you have a diet that is heavy in any of these, I highly recommend cleaning out your gut with cat’s claw. [...]

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