Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.
Preparation: Remove the stems and thorns from the branches, cut into sections and dry.
Dosage: 6 - 15 grams
Main actions according to TCM*: Calms Liver Wind and relieves spasms. Clears Liver Heat and sedates Liver Yang.
Source date: 1958 AD
Number of ingredients: 11 herbs
Formula key actions: Calms the Liver. Extinguishes wind. Invigorates the blood. Clears heat. Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys.
Gou Teng is a king ingredient in Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.
Source date: Qing dynasty
Number of ingredients: 10 herbs
Formula key actions: Cools the Liver. Extinguishes Wind. Increases Fluids. Relaxes the sinews.
Gou Teng is a king ingredient in Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.
Source date: 1732 AD
Number of ingredients: 15 herbs
Formula key actions: Sedates the Heart . Clears Phlegm. Clears Fire. Calms the Mind.
Gou Teng is a deputy ingredient in Sheng Tie Luo Yin. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.
In Sheng Tie Luo Yin, Gou Teng is sweet and slightly cooling. It dispels Wind-Heat and settles fright.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Gou Teng belongs to the 'Herbs that pacify Internal Liver Wind and stop Tremors' category. These herbs are used to treat so-called 'hyperactive Liver Yang'. Concretely this translates into high blood pressure as well as seizures, spasms, convulsions, dizziness and vertigo. These herbs often seem to have a powerful antispasmodic effect on the nervous system.
Furthermore Gou Teng is Cool in nature. This means that Gou Teng tends to help people who have too much 'Heat' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Cold in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Heat in their body are said to either have a Yang Excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition Gou Teng can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.
Gou Teng also tastes Sweet. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sweet ingredients like Gou Teng tends to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.
The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Gou Teng is thought to target the Liver and the Pericardium. In TCM the Liver is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions. The Pericardium is also called the "heart protector". It is the first line of defence for the Heart against external pathogenic influences
The potential for development of leads from Uncaria continues to grow, particularly in the area of immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory and vascular-related conditions.1
Cat's claw is an effective treatment for osteoarthritis. The species, U. guianensis and U. tomentosa are equiactive. They are effective antioxidants, but their anti-inflammatory properties may result from their ability to inhibit TNFα and to a lesser extent PGE2 production.2
1. ME Heitzman, CC Neto, E Winiarz, AJ Vaisberg et al. (2005). Ethnobotany, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Uncaria (Rubiaceae). Phytochemistry, 66(1): 5-29. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phytochem.2004.10.022
2. Piscoya, J., Rodriguez, Z., Bustamante, S. et al. Inflamm. res. (2001) 50: 442. https://doi.org/10.1007/PL00000268