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Since May 10th 2008

Initial U

Urtica dioica

Uncaria tomentosa



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Uncaria tomentosa (Willd.) DC. (Rubiaceae)

Nauclea aculeata auct. Non Willd., N. cinchoneae DC, N. polycephala A. Rich., N. tomentosa Willd., Ourouparia polycephala Baill., Uncaria surinamensis Miq., U. tomentosa DC, Uruparia tomentosa (Willd.) O. Kuntze

Local names
Bejuco de agua, cat’s claw, cat’s thorn, deixa, garabato, garabato amarillo, garabato colorado, garra gavilán, hank’s clay, jipotatsa, Katzenkralle, kug kukjaqui, micho-mentis, paotati-mosha, paraguyayo, rangaya, saventaro, toroñ, tsachik, tua juncara, uña de gato, uña de gato de altura, uncucha, unganangi, unganangi, unha de gato

A scrambling liana, up to 20–30 m long, main stem up to 25 cm in diameter. Branches obtusely quadrangular, generally puberulous. Stipules widely ovate-triangular, minutely and densely puberulous outside. Leaves opposite, petiolate; petioles 1.0–1.5 cm long, minutely puberulous or hirtellous; leaf blades ovate to ovate-oblong, 6.0–14.5 cm long, 2.5–8.5 cm wide; apex obtuse to acuminate; base rounded or subtruncate or subcordate; margin entire or occasionally crenulate in the upper half, glabrous or subglabrous above except strigillose on veins, area between veins densely puberulent to subglabrous beneath; lateral veins six to ten pairs, level above, prominent beneath, tertiary veins distinct. Spines strongly recurved, tomentose in younger branches, glabrous in older ones. Inflorescences thyrsic with three to nine nodes, lateral units with one to eight pseudo-heads, the bracts reduced; heads small, 12–20 mm in diameter; peduncles densely hirtellous, 1.5–4 cm long. Flowers sessile; calyx tubular, 0.5–0.8 mm long with the obtuse lobes 0.2–0.3 mm long, densely villosulous outside, densely sericeous inside at the base; corolla densely retrorsely adpressed, puberulous outside, glabrous inside, tubes 3.5–5.0 mm long, 0.7–0.8 mm wide at the base, 1.0 mm wide at the mouth, lobes suborbicular, rounded, 1–1.5 mm long, 1–1.5 mm wide. Stamens five, some sterile; anthers 1.0–1.5 mm long, obtuse at the apex, prolonged and attenuated at the base; filaments around 0.2 mm long. Ovary 1.4–1.6 long, 0.9–1.3 mm wide, densely villosulous, style 6.5–9 mm long, glabrous; stigma 1.0 mm long, clavate. Capsules 0.8–1.2 cm long, pubescent outside; seeds with two long narrow wings, one bifid, 3.4 mm long

Plant material used
dried stem bark

Chemical assays
Not more than 0.02% total tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids determined by high-performance liquid chromatography

Major chemical constituents
The major constituents are indole alkaloids (0.15–4.60%), primarily pentacyclic oxindoles. The principal pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids are pteropodine, isopteropodine, speciophylline, uncarine F, mitraphylline and isomitraphylline. Tetracyclic oxindoles present include isorhynchophylline and rhynchophylline

Medicinal uses
Uses supported by clinical data
None. Although two clinical studies have suggested that Cortex Uncariae may be an immunostimulant and increase the number of white blood cells, data from controlled clinical trials are lacking.

Uses described in pharmacopoeias and well established documents
Symptomatic treatment of arthritis, rheumatism and gastric ulcers.

Uses described in traditional medicine
Treatment of abscesses, asthma, fevers, urinary tract infections, viral infections and wounds. As an emmenagogue.

Proven pharmacological activity
Animal studies
Anti-inflammatory, Antitumour, Immune stimulating

Human studies
Immune stimulating

Adverse reactions
No information available.

Owing to its traditional use as an emmenagogue, Cortex Uncariae is contraindicated during pregnancy.

No information available.

Drug interactions
Commercial extracts of the stem bark inhibited the activity of human cytochrome P450, IC50 < 1%. Cortex Uncariae should only be taken in conjunction with prescription drugs metabolized via cytochrome P450, such as protease inhibitors, warfarin, estrogens and theophylline under the supervision of a health-care provider.

Carcinogenesis, mutagenesis, impairment of fertility
No information available.

Pregnancy: non-teratogenic effects
See Contraindications.

Nursing mothers
Owing to the lack of safety data, the use of Cortex Uncariae during nursing is not recommended, unless under the supervision of a health-care provider.

Paediatric use
Owing to the lack of safety data, the use of Cortex Uncariae in children under the age of 12 years is not recommended, unless under the supervision of a health-care provider.

Other precautions
No information available on general precautions or precautions concerning drug and laboratory test interactions; and teratogenic effects in pregnancy.

Dosage forms
Dried stem bark for infusions and decoctions, and extracts. Capsules and tablets. Store in a tightly sealed container away from heat and light.

(Unless otherwise indicated)
Average daily dose: extracts, 20.0–350.0 mg. Capsules and tablets: 300.0–500.0 mg, one capsule or tablet two to three times.


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