Mother Nature's Wondrous Healers
by Phillip N. Steinberg, CNC
Health Store News, Oct/Nov. 1996
By now most of you have heard
of Cat's Claw, a remarkable herb being imported from the Peruvian
Amazon. After almost three years of working with and writing
about this miracle from the rainforest, I have become increasingly
convinced of its tremendous healing power. It seems to have
the ability to help people suffering from many different illnesses
both acute and chronic, sometimes in just a matter of a few
days. I have personally received testimonials from alternative
practitioners, health stores and individuals from all across
the United States and other countries, who claim that Cat's
Claw, also known as Ua de Gato or in Latin as Uncaria
tomentosa Willd DC, has literally changed their patients, customers
and personal lives.
Though most of these claims
are anecdotal in nature, they nevertheless give us reason for
optimism. Based on these reports, there is evidence that Cat's
Claw can help, at least in some cases, people suffering from
tumors and growths, arthritis, bursitis, gout, fibromyalgia,
asthma, hay fever, allergies, chemical and environmental sensitivities,
multiple sclerosis, shingles, canker sores, chronic fatigue
and depression, candidiasis, parasites, dysbiosis, Crohn's disease,
ulcers, gastritis, hemorrhoids and inflammatory bowel, prostate
problems, diabetes, hypoglycemia, PMS and menstrual irregularities,
circulatory problems and various viral and bacterial infections,
including secondary infections in AIDS patients. There have
also been reports of Cat's Claw's effectiveness in reducing
the side effects of both radiation and chemotherapy when used
in conjunction with conventional cancer treatments. Will all
this stand up to scientific scrutiny? I believe that in time
it will; however, we will have to wait until the appropriate
clinical trials have been completed. For now, at least, Cat's
Claw seems to be virtually non-toxic and safe to use up to as
much as 20 grams per day for several weeks to several months
at a time. This is the amount generally used by the indigenous
people of Peru, who boil inner bark and/or root in a liter of
water for 30 minutes, then consume this decoction throughout
the day for a variety of illnesses.
Here in the U.S. individuals
with minor illnesses have often responded with as little as
2-4 grams per day in capsule or tablet form. I personally have
been taking 1 gram (1,000 mg.) three times per day almost every
day for the past three years. I have found this amount to virtually
eliminate the pain and discomfort in my lower back associated
with an arthritic condition that developed as a result of two
I have also witnessed Cat's
Claw's ability to clear-up sinus, ear and throat infections
in 48 to 72 hours and I have used drops of tea in the eyes to
clear-up conjunctivitis and powdered herb between toes to clear-up
So, what is it that makes
Cat's Claw such a powerful natural medicine? The answer lies
in the herb's unique phytochemical make-up. In all, the herb
contains five different groups of beneficial plant compounds.
These include: alkaloids, polyphenols and proanthocyanidins,
triterpines, glycosides, and phytosterols. Laboratory research
in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Italy, England and Peru has demonstrated
that these compounds possess immune augmenting, anti-microbial,
anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-ulcer, anti-oxidant
and adaptogen properties.
Because Cat's Claw has been
referred to as an adaptogen and anti-oxidant herb, it is suitable
to be used on a daily basis by those seeking to maintain maximum
resistance to the stresses and strains of modern life. Is Cat's
Claw an herb for everyone? No, there is a small percentage of
people who should not use the herb. These include: anyone taking
anti-ulcer medications, transplant patients or those being injected
with foreign proteins as a part of their therapy. Cat's Claw
can also cause uterine contractions and therefore, should not
be taken by pregnant women or women seeking to conceive.
What about side affects?
In a small number of people, Cat's Claw will cause constipation
or diarrhea and in rare occasions a slight fever or recurrence
of former symptoms as it drives a deep seated pathology out
of the body. These usually pass or normalize within two weeks.
I have also heard of a few people who have broken out in a rash
after taking Cat's Claw. For these reasons, I always suggest
starting out with a lower dose and then gradually increase the
amount over a ten to 30-day period.
If side effects are going
to occur, they will generally do so within the first week. It
is important to keep in mind that these side effects are rare
and that the vast majority do not experience any at all.
Today, there is a wide variety
of Cat's Claw products available in capsule, tablet, tea, liquid
and powdered extract forms. Most products are made from the
inner bark of the vine, however, I recently learned that a small
amount of root & root bark is being harvested legally and
ecologically in Peru and is now available in various products.
Recent assays have determined that Cat's Claw root and root
bark contain a significantly higher alkaloid content. There
is also a highly specialized pharmaceutical extract developed
from the root that is currently being used to treat cancer,
AIDS and other diseases in Austria and Germany. The pharmaceutical
has not been approved for sale in the U.S.; however, more products
containing root and root bark will soon become available from
health food stores, mail-order and network marketing companies.
Essiac and Cat's Claw
Something new and promising is the prospect
of using Cat's Claw with other medicinal herbs and plants. One
such product has recently been introduced that combines Cat's
Claw with watercress, burdock root, sheep sorrel, turkey rhubarb
root and slippery elm bark. The last four herbs are what make
up the original formula from Canada known as Essiac.
In case you haven't heard
of Essiac, here's the scoop: Rene Caisse, a registered nurse
living in Canada learned of the original four herb formula from
a patient in a hospital she had been working in. The patient
reportedly had been cured of breast cancer by using this herbal
preparation which had been given to her by an Ojibway Indian.
In 1922 at the age of 33, Rene left the hospital and moved to
Bracebridge, Ontario, where she began administering this formula
to all who came to her. Later she named the formula Essiac,
which is her last name spelled backwards.
The majority of her patients
were referred by physicians who certified them as being terminal
or incurable by the accepted methods of treatment. Nurse Caisse
prepared the herbal remedy in her own kitchen and administered
it both orally and by injection. In cases where there was severe
damage to life support organs, her patients died. However, many
of them lived far longer than the medical professionals had
predicted and more significantly, they lived free of pain. Others
who were listed as hopeless and terminal, but without severe
damage to life support systems were cured and lived 35 to 45
Unfortunately, Caisse sold
the rights to the name Essiac to a company in Canada which no
longer prepares the individual herbs as she did and there are
many knockoff products under different names, that do not prepare
the herbs as she did either. In order for the herbs to be most
effective, sheep sorrel must never be boiled or its medicinal
properties will be destroyed. It must be simmered for 20 minutes
at no higher that 140¡. Burdock root and turkey rhubarb root
must be boiled for 20 minutes and slippery elm bark needs to
be boiled for 20 minutes, allowed to cool and then boiled again
for another 20 minutes. This is a tedious procedure that must
be followed religiously if one expects to see the kind of results
experienced by nurse Caisse's patients.
A few years before her death,
Caisse came to the United States and worked with Dr. Charles
Brusch, the former personal physician to John F. Kennedy. Together
they modified the original formula by adding a specific amount
of watercress. This was done because the original formula contains
a high level of oxalic acids which can contribute to forming
kidney stones. Brusch and Caisse determined that the correct
amount of watercress would help the kidneys flush the acids
out of the system. Later this new five herb formula was given
to Dr. Bill Maclean who began preparing all the herbs individually
in order to maximize their effectiveness.
Recently, Dr. Maclean began
adding Cat's Claw to the formula and it is now being offered
commercially under a number of different names. Though it is
too soon to know how effective this new product will be, preliminary
reports suggest that it may be helpful with cancer, diabetes,
Parkinson's disease and even AIDS. It is certainly a product
worthy of further investigation by the wholistic health community.
I suspect that over the next
five years the potential of this product will become realized
as more doctors and individuals begin using it. For now I am
content in knowing that this product exists and is readily available
to anyone who needs it.
Why Commercial Essiac and Most Essiac
Knock-Off Products Are Only Partially Effective
(Author's addendum to the above article as follows):
The original Essiac Formula given to Rene
Caisse can be traced back to the native Ojibway Indians of Canada.
It is a formula that she later simplified utilizing four herbs:
Burdock root, Slippery Elm bark, Turkey Rhubarb root and Sheep
Sorrel. Of these four, the first three are referred to as hard
tissue herbs (roots and/or barks) while the fourth is a soft
tissue herb (leaves and/or flowers). Hard tissue herbs must
be boiled in order to release all of their medicinal properties,
while soft tissue herbs must be simmered at a temperature not
exceeding 140 degrees.
The majority of these products
available commercially today have all the herbs mixed together
with instructions to either boil or simmer them and they cannot
be prepared separately. If all herbs are boiled, the enzymes
and other medicinal properties in the Sheep Sorrel will be destroyed.
If all herbs are simmered together, much of the medicinal properties
in the Burdock root, Slippery Elm bark and Turkey Rhubarb root
will not be released.
This is the reason why many
people do not experience the same results that Rene Caisse did,
with her 50 plus years of using the formula in Canada.
I know of two commercial
products available in the United States that have prepared the
herbs according to the directions of Dr. Charles Brusch, the
personal physician to John F. Kennedy, who later modified the
formula with Rene Caisse, to include a specific amount of watercress.
These products are known as Ezzeac Plus and Ezzeac Plus Cat's
With the advice of Dr. Brusch,
Dr. Bill Maclean created Ezzeac Plus and then later Ezzeac Plus
Cat's Claw. Both are ready to use preparations, where the hard
tissue herbs are boiled separately and the soft tissue herbs,
including Watercress, are properly simmered. This is a labor
intensive, more tedious procedure, resulting in a more expensive
commercial product, at a higher cost to the consumer; however,
when faced with a problem that this product might address, which
product would you choose?
There is no doubt in my mind.
I would choose the product where all the herbs have been prepared
in the proper manner: Ezzeac Plus or Ezzeac Plus Cat's Claw.
Please note: The above information
is the opinion of the author, based on interviews with Dr. Bill
Maclean and anecdotal reports from both health practitioners
and individuals who have used one or more of the products discussed.
Phil Steinberg, Editor/Publisher
Amazon Herb & Nutrition News
President - Wildfire Consulting &
Natural Health products
P.O. Box 1078
Washington, Missouri 63090 USA