Medicinal plants

Uncaria

Uncaria: general characteristics

The unicaria (or cat’s claw) is a plant belonging to the Rubiaceae family. There are approximately forty species of uncaria, most of which are mainly found in tropical America, but are also present to a limited extent in Africa and the Mediterranean area. The uncaria is a climbing plant that can reach a truly remarkable height, between 2 and 5 meters. This species tends to grow up to 800 meters above sea level, in places particularly exposed to sunlight. The leaves can appear as whole or bifid, petiolate or covered with a light down. The presence on these leaves of small thorns that resemble the claws of a cat, has made this plant deserve its nickname. The flowers are yellow or violet.

Uncaria: phytotherapeutic properties


But what are the beneficial properties of this plant? What are the benefits it brings to our body? The uncaria, especially in its tomentose variety, contains substances such as: vitamins, mineral salts, sitosterols, polyphenols, mucilages and also glucosides and alkaloids. All these active ingredients ensure that the uncaria is particularly suitable for the protection of the intestine from the action of drugs. In fact, following recent studies it has been possible to verify how the plant extracts soothe inflammation of the enteral tract. Thanks to the presence of numerous minerals, the uncaria fights the formation of dangerous free radicals, thus preventing aging and carrying out a remineralizing action.

Uncaria: method of use


But how is the uncaria used in phytotherapy? What are the products on the market, and what are the methods of recruitment? Generally, the uncaria can be taken in the form of a decoction or herbal tea, and used for both external and internal uses. The part of the plant that is used is the bark, which contains the highest concentration of active ingredients. The decoction of uncaria provides for external use only, through compresses and poultices that are placed on the part to be treated. To obtain an excellent decoction of uncaria it is necessary to obtain a small quantity of pulverized bark (one and a half teaspoons), which will be boiled for a quarter of an hour in half a liter of water. A teaspoon of bark is enough for the herbal tea,

Uncaria: contraindications and posology


As for the dosage, it is recommended not to drink more than four cups of infusion between meals. For external use of the decoction, it must be mixed with clay and not kept on the part to be treated for more than twenty minutes. But are there any contraindications to using uncaria? In fact, as often happens, most of the side effects are due to excessive intake of uncaria. An overdose could lead to the onset of diarrhea which stops when the therapy is terminated. It is absolutely necessary to avoid the use of this plant in conjunction with immunosuppressive drugs, especially cyclosporine. Uncaria products should never be used during pregnancy and especially during breastfeeding, as allergic reactions may occur.

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