Cat’s Claw Will Put You In Good Spirits

by Martina Watts
The Argus, Brighton, England, September 21, 2004

THE Ashaninka Indians live in villages along river banks in the jungle regions of Peru.

Living in harmony with their environment, they grow their crops in a way that respects the natural order of the Amazonian rainforest.

The Ashaninka believe some plants are inhabited by “good spirits” and have the ability to restore health.

One of their most sacred healing plants is Cat’s Claw, a thick woody vine which climbs up the exterior of trees with the help of hooks on its stems – these resemble the claws of a cat.

For more than 2,000 years, the Ashaninka Indians have been using this vine to treat a variety of conditions, from minor ailments to chronic conditions, such as arthritis, bowel inflammation, some types of cancer and diabetes.

Since the Seventies, there have been ongoing studies into the medicinal benefits of Cat’s Claw.

Austrian scientists have found several active compounds that may help to strengthen the human immune system, making it more able to defend itself from foreign invaders and disease. These include two antagonistic alkaloids – the TOAs and POAs (Tetracyclic Oxindole Alkaloids and Pentacyclic Oxindole Alkaloids). TOAs are the bad guys, inhibiting the healing action of the POAs. Common Cat’s Claw contains both these alkaloids and in widespread in the Amazon jungle.

There is, however, another very rare type of Cat’s Claw called Samento. By a strange fluke of nature, it lacks the troublesome TOAs, and as a result, is much more effective.

A reliable TOA-free Cat’s Claw is produced by the American company Nutramedix, founded by a missionary working in the Peruvian rainforest.

He first learned about Samento from the Ashaninka Indians when they gave him the following advice: “If you ever crash in the jungle and need fresh water for drinking, cut this vine and drink its sap. It’s called Samento and we use it to treat a big number of diseases”.

Samento is collected in a plant-friendly way, without harming its roots or lower stem and reforestation is promoted where harvesting occurs.

Samento (guaranteed TOA-free) is available from Rio Health Direct by mail order. Call 01273 570987 or visit

See next week’s Body & Soul to find out more about the story of Rio Health.
_Martina is a qualified nutritional therapist and works at the Crescent Clinic of Complementary Medicine and the Dolphin House Clinic, both in Brighton. Call 01273 324790 or visit

If you have any question for Martina, write to her at Features Department, The Argus, Argus House, Crowhurst Road, Brighton BN1 8AR, or e-mail –