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Cat’s Claw for Psoriatic Arthritis

In my unending quest to find ways to manage my psoriatic arthritis symptoms in any (valid) way possible, I ran across an ancient supplement called cat’s claw. Not one to try just “any odd thing” that I run across, I started with a little research. After all, just because someone tells me that drinking herbal tea while standing on my head works, that doesn’t mean I’m ready to just run out and stand on my head. Not that my hands could hold me up, but that’s beside the point.

What is cat’s claw?

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, cat’s claw is a vine that grows in Central and South America. Its bark and roots are used to make supplements that come in many forms including tablets, teas, and liquid extracts. It goes on to state that historically, cat’s claw was used by the Inca civilizations for a number of reasons, including inflammation and boosting the immune system.1

How might cat’s claw work?

Furthermore, the Journal of Rheumatology, in a 2002 study, found that over 50% of patients found a reduction in the number of painful and swollen joints (compared to placebo) while taking cat’s claw. Granted, the study was done on patients with rheumatoid arthritis and not psoriatic arthritis, but I still felt there was reason to hope and that it was worth a try. After all, apparently, cat’s claw is a known anti-inflammatory that inhibits tumor necrosis factor (TNF).2

My first stop was at my rheumatologist’s office. After bringing my research to her, she gave me the go-ahead to give it a try. As a side note, I’d like to make it clear that this is a necessary step when starting any new pharmaceutical or alternative therapy for your psoriatic arthritis. Always, always, always speak with your doctor first!

So, after getting the thumbs up from my doctor, I went in search of a reputable brand, derivative, and dosage strength from an online retailer. I don’t have a major market near me for alternative therapy, so online was pretty much my only option. Or I would have gone to a store and spoke with someone myself. Gotta love the internet, right?

Onto the good stuff…

My experience using cat’s claw

Now that all of that is out of the way, it is on to the good stuff, and what I’m sure is your burning question, did it work? In a nutshell, I’d have to say, yes. I did get SOME relief from it. I’ve given up on the notion of total relief. I’ve set myself up for failure thinking that was a possibility too many times. So I suppose I certainly keep my expectations low.

Knowing that, would I recommend it to my best friend? I’d say yes. I feel like it is worth the time and expense. And more so, I believe that it is worth the effort of adding “one more thing” to my already full PsA regimin. I carefully track my symptoms and meds and while I certainly didn’t get “immediate” or “immense” relief, over time (about 6 weeks) I noticed a considerable decline in my overall pain level. I would say, I went from an average of 6-7 on a “typical” daily basis, to more of a 4-5 on a normal 10 point scale. (We all know how big doctors are on their pain scales…) Barring random flares of course.

Some important things to know

  • You want actual uncaria tomentosa, not a derivative or anything with a lot of fillers
  • I took 500 mg a day and did start out with some stomach upset and nausea but it eased with time
  • My experiences may be unique to me, I’m certainly not making any promise of results, simply sharing my experiences
  • Always speak to your doctor before trying in any medications to treat or manage your psoriatic arthritis

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Psoriatic-Arthritis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Cat's Claw. (2016, November 29). Retrieved from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/catclaw
  2. Mur, E., Hartig, F., Eibl, G., & Schirmer, M. (2002, April 01). Randomized double blind trial of an extract from the pentacyclic alkaloid-chemotype of uncaria tomentosa for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Retrieved from http://www.jrheum.org/content/29/4/678

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