Which Cat's Claw is Which?

Which Cat's Claw is Which?

A mix up we often see in people first shopping for herbs is some confusion between Cat's Claw and ANOTHER Cat's Claw. Confusingly, some plants are named and nicknamed very similarly, even the same, and that is especially so in this case. Both Uncaria Tomentosa and Uncaria Rhynchophylla are herbs used popularly in herbal medicine, but with very different histories and uses.

Uncaria Rhynchophylla is called Gou Teng in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Gou Teng is a sweet, slightly cold herb that enters the Pericardium and Liver channels. It releases the exterior, drains liver heat, and extinguishes wind while alleviating spasms.

Gou Teng

Above is Gou Teng, Uncaria Rhynchophylla.

On the other hand, Uncaria Tomentosa, almost always called Cat's Claw, is a South and Central American herb that is traditional used in those places. It actually comes from the Pervuian Amazon Rain Forest traditionally. It's used more often to support joint flexibility and benefit the digestive and immune systems.

Uncaria Tomentosa Photograph by: Vangeliq Petrova https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Uncaria_tomentosa.png

As you can see from the two comparisons, these two herbs come from different places and have different botanical properties, but wound up with the same nickname. We know this can be confusing for even the most practiced user of herbs. We have some tips to avoid confusing these two herbs.

When looking for any form of Cat's Claw, always double check the botanical name used on the packaging. Uncaria Tomentosa is the South and Central American Cat's Claw. Uncaria Rhynchophylla is the Chinese Herb also called Gou Teng. It's an expensive mistake to make so ask twice when you are recommended Cat's Claw to be sure which they're talking about. We also carry both here, so always specify!

If you have more questions about these two herbs or about herbs in general, feel free to send us an email or reach out to us on the social media outlet of your preference!