Cat’s claw (uncaria tomentosa) is a natural ingredient sourced from a species of South American vine.
It’s a powerful ingredient that has anti-inflammatory abilities, repairs DNA, and is rich in antioxidants that can help rid the body of free radical toxins. It is one of the best diet supplements in the industry according to many experts.
All these abilities can have a positive effect on the mind and cat’s claw offers more-direct mental benefits by fighting depression, improving mental focus, reducing fatigue, and enhancing cognitive function.
Other valuable capabilities include:
- Prevents brain inflammation and oxidative stress
- Improves cerebral circulation
- Helps dissolve the amyloid plaques associated with brain degeneration
- Boosts acetylcholine (neurotransmitter)
In Peru, the Ashaninka Indians have been taking advantage of the medicinal capabilities of cat’s claw for many hundreds of years and often consume it as a health and wellness tea.
Cat’s Claw Active Components
Much of the ingredient’s power appears to be provided by oxindole alkaloids that act on the central nervous system.
Cat’s claw is also a source of quinic acid, which is believed to have neuroprotective capabilities and may boost the immune system.
The presence of Carboxyl Alkyl Esters (CAE) is deemed responsible for its ability to offer protection against mental confusion and disorientation.
A Closer Look at Cat’s Claw’s Nootropic Abilities
Although studies are ongoing, the research compiled to date shows cat’s claw improves cognitive function by providing a number of benefits:
- Improving the Circulation: By boosting blood flow to the brain, cat’s claw ensures this important organ has all the nutrients and oxygen it needs to function at peak capacity.
- Decreasing Levels of Pathogenic Proteins in the Brain: Research involving brain cells taken from humans and mice, suggests the alkaloids provided by cat’s claw have the ability to degrade a protein called alpha-synuclein, which is believed to be responsible for causing certain neurological problems, including Parkinson’s disease.
- Anti-Convulsing and Anti-Spasmodic Capabilities: Cat’s claw’s ability to reduce convulsions may give it value as a future treatment for epilepsy.
- Antioxidant Activity: The antioxidants provided by this versatile nootropic ingredient have been shown to offer protection against brain cell damage and provide increased cell viability.
- Anti-Inflammatory Ability: Cat’s Claw extract inhibit synthesis of pro-inflammatory mediators and, in so doing can be useful for treating brain injuries and stroke.
Cat’s Claw Research
A lot of research focuses on cat’s claw’s ability to protect the brain from neural damage and the results of one study, conducted at the University of Lund in Sweden, suggests one of the ways the ingredient achieves this is by improving the DNA repair mechanism in the brain.
The results of another study show the ingredient has the ability to boost tryptophan levels.
The knock-on effect of this is an elevation is serotonin levels.
Serotonin is a “happiness hormones” and higher levels result in improvements to the mood and a happier state of mind.
The cognitive boosting abilities of cat’s claw have also been subjected to a good deal of study and research conducted at Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University in Japan, suggests the Rhynchophylline provided by the ingredient works as an NMDA antagonist that selectively restricts the activity of NMDA receptors.
This has a soothing effect on hyperactivity and prevents over-stimulation of the brain, resulting in a calmer state of mind, increased mental clarity, and improved learning capabilities.
The Nootropic Value of Cat’s Claw
Even people who consider themselves to be in good physical health may be suffering from reduced cognitive abilities without even realizing it.
There are a number of everyday issues that can directly affect the brain and interfere with its natural capabilities.
Stress and fatigue can both be contributing factors; and the free radical toxins we are all exposed to, via food and even the air around us, can also reduce our ability to “think straight”.
Although, it’s very easy to forget about free radicals and push the thought to the back of the mind, not worrying about it won’t make the problem go away.
Stress and fatigue are also easy problems to ignore because they have become such a common part of most people’s everyday lives.
However, whether we choose to worry about it or not, many of us may not be as mentally sharp as we think.
Although cat’s claw is not the only good nootropic ingredient available, it is known to be one of the best so, if you see cat’s claw listed on the label of nootropic supplement you are thinking about using, consider that as a very big point in its favour.