The uncaria, full name Uncaria tormentosa, is a climbing shrub native to the Amazon, which grows at altitudes of about 400, 800 meters. It grows in the forest in the southwest of the Amazon and is also widespread in other areas of South America, especially in the forests of Brazil, Colombia and Peru. It is also called Cat's Nail due to the shape of the leaves that are thorny. It belongs to the Rubiaceae family. The stem can reach a height of 20 meters. The branches are sloping, with dark green oval leaves. The base of the leaf petioles is curved and full of thorns, or rather of hook-shaped thorns that the plant uses to support itself with other plant species when it wants to look for brighter areas. Hence, the name of Uncaria. The flowers are yellow with a funnel-shaped calyx and corolla. This plant is recognized as one of the main species with accredited medicinal and phytotherapeutic properties that we will see in the next paragraph. The parts of the plant used for this purpose are the bark and the root. The greatest concentration of active ingredients occurs in the period preceding flowering, so the harvest must be started just before the birth of the flowers.
The unicaria is a plant with anti-inflammatory, anti-infective and above all immunostimulating properties. The active ingredients contained in the root and bark seem to be able to enhance the action of the immune system and white blood cells by inducing the phagocytosis process of viruses and bacteria that can cause various infections, such as flu or colds. This action is also carried out in the case of allergens that can trigger adverse reactions of the body when it comes into contact with particular substances. In fact, the uncaria are also attributed with hypoallergenic and even anti-inflammatory properties in the case of rheumatic diseases, although it is not proven that it inhibits the synthesis of prostaglandins responsible for painful sensations. But the most interesting effect concerns the immunostimulating properties (of the hookworm) which would increase the production of natural killer cells and cytotoxic T lymphocytes, that is, those that neutralize damaged cells or cells that have undergone mutations, as in the case of tumor pathologies. The immunostimulating effect would be linked to the anti-inflammatory and anti-infective effect, which leads to the enhancement of the action of white blood cells. The active principles of the plant involved in this action to protect the immune system are the cyclic alkaloids of the oxindole tetra and penta group, including rincofylline, isorincofylline. The uncaria also contains flavonoids such as epicatechin and phytosterols. Established studies confirm that the immunostimulating action takes place three days after taking the active ingredient for the natural killer cells and after about two weeks for the T lymphocytes. However, tumors are very different pathologies from one subject to another and with mechanisms of action that are still unknown, so the properties of the plant must not generate illusions about the possibility of being able to cure cancer only by taking extracts of uncaria. The studies in progress promise interesting applications in the field of the fight and prevention of tumors and it is not certain that research cannot discover therapies that exploit certain plant active ingredients for anti-cancer therapies. The unicaria is contraindicated for those who take immunosuppressive drugs, for pregnant women, for children under the age of 9 and for those suffering from gastrointestinal infections, as the active ingredients can cause diarrhea, which disappears by suspending the 'hiring.
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How to use
To obtain beneficial effects, only the active ingredients contained in some parts of the plant, i.e. bark and root, must be taken. From these we obtain the nebulized dry extract which is sold in the form of tablets or tablets. The recommended daily dosage is 2.4 mg of active ingredient or dry extract titrated to 3%, for each kilogram of body weight, to be divided into two doses throughout the day, to be carried out between meals. The dry extract is obtained by total evaporation of the solvent and with the purification of useless and potentially harmful substances. In herbal medicine, the titrated extract is defined as that which contains the active principles of the plant, that is, the parts with the therapeutic effects, collected and processed according to the highest quality standards. On the market there are packs of 60 tablets of dry extract of Uncaria root bark, titrated to 3% of active ingredients, ie the alkaloids. Each tablet is about 260 mg, while the share of active ingredients is 160 mg. The recommended dose is one tablet, 1, 3 times a day.
Products based on extracts of uncaria they are found in pharmacies, herbalists, parapharmacies and e-commerce sites. Indeed, in recent times, with the advertising on the anti-cancer effects of this plant, the sites that sell it online are making a good business. The ideal would be to stick to serious and reliable sites that do not promise miracles and that consider the product for what it is: a good food supplement that can never replace a varied diet and a healthy lifestyle. The commercial form of the uncaria are tablets. They are sold in bottles of 60 tablets and cost around 18 euros.