Cat’s Claw and HIV
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Harvey
Posted on: April 25, 2003

My name is harvey, from Malaysia, and living in London here. I’m HIV positive. I used to take cat’s claw which I bought in Amsterdam, and it does work. My viral load count dropped, but then when I finished couple months later, my viral load went up again. I got another brand of cat’s claw in London here and it doesn’t work. Why was that? I just put on my order on your website, but do you have cat’s claw in pills or capsules? Or where can I get it?

There are reports in the scientific literature of two forms of cat’s claw each with different chemical profiles and very different effects on the immune system. The tetracyclic oxindole alkaloid type (tetracyclica) has been found to suppress the immune system while the pentacyclic oxindole alkaloid type (pentacyclica) has been found to boost the immune system.

Commercial cat’s claw products are generally made without regard to which form is used. The problem is that it is difficult to tell the two types apart when harvesting, so most commercial cat’s claw is probably a mixture of the two types. Interestingly, the "sancoshis" of Peru are reportedly able to tell the two types apart although there are no apparent morphological differences between the types. I am guessing that they use some combination of taste and smell.

At present, I am not aware of any commercial cat’s claw that contains the pentacyclica form only. Like other cat’s claw products on the market, ours has not been assessed for oxindole alkaloid type. Our cat’s claw is sold in the dried root bark form only. We do not offer pills or capsules at this time, but we now offer an easy-to-use liquid extract.

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