December 2004

Cat’s Claw and Chronic Health

Heather Redmond reports on an ancient treatment and tells why she is excited about it

If you are an Ashaninka Indian living deep in the Peruvian rain forest, you might brew up an infusion of Cat’s Claw (uncaria tomentosa) for your aching joints, having first harvested the creeper from high up a tree.

Those of us with limited access to such exotic healing endeavours might, instead, try a course of Samento out of a bottle. Studies suggest that it can be beneficial in the treatment of a wide range of immune-related conditions. In particular, clinical trials have been conducted with patients suffering from Lyme disease and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) better known as ME. 

Chronic health conditions are a roller-coaster of expectation and disappointment. With so many products on the market claiming to do wonders for our immune system, what’s so special about Samento?

Samento is a herbal supplement extracted from a rare form of Cat’s Claw. It is said to offer natural, non-toxic antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial qualities, and acts as a ‘modulator’ to the immune system. Modulation means that in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, an overactive immune system may be toned down. Just to confuse things, where an immune system is underactive in the prevention or healing of illness, Samento may act as a boost.

There is an amount of research and writing about Samento and much anecdotal evidence of improvement in symptoms across a broad spectrum of disease.

Case study 1: Cecylia Malenczak and Lyme disease

Cecylia Malenczak’s experience is more than an anecdote, it’s a result.
She has had Lyme disease for about thirteen years and is experiencing some symptom relief with Samento. Lyme disease (Borreliosis) is a tick-borne disease difficult to diagnose because of its tendency to mimic other diseases.

As a biomedical scientist working in medical research, she knew that when she became ill with ‘multiple debilitating symptoms’, that they added up to more than her doctor’s cursory, dismissive diagnosis of ME.

Her training told her that there had to be an organism causing symptoms as varied as labrynthitis, palpitations, pins and needles, shortness of breath, facial numbness, and chronic fatigue, to name but a few of her ‘shortened list of twelve’.

Written off as having a psychosomatic illness, she was frustrated in her attempts to access the appropriate tests and expertise she knew she needed.
I took my health into my own hands. I lost faith in doctors’, she says.
And she read and read. And the more she read up on Lyme disease, the more it explained her symptoms. Cecylia’s determination eventually paid off when the proper tests and specialist help confirmed her self diagnosis.
Initially, with antibiotics she ‘could breathe deeply’ and ‘walk without pain for the first time in years’.

Then she decided to try Samento. She finds that it is tolerated better by her system than antibiotics. Accordingly, in the six months on the alternative regime of Samento plus vitamin and mineral supplements, she has been able to discontinue antibiotics altogether.

Tangible improvements include more stamina, better sleep and the flare- up of symptoms have a shorter duration with less severity.
Early days, she says, but feeling better is a pretty good plank for optimism to walk.

Case study 2: Michael Lane and Parkinsons

For Michael Lane it’s also early days. Diagnosed in his early forties with Parkinson’s disease, he has been on Madopar, a known prescribed treatment, for fifteen years and Samento for two months.

Although he experiences no change in his symptoms, he discovered that he could halve his daily dose of Madopar. His system, he feels, can only benefit from not being ‘dowsed’ with strong prescription drugs.

Case study 3: Me

I have started treatment myself for long-standing systemic sclerosis. Six weeks in, and currently on twenty drops a day, the ulcers on my fingers are beginning to clear up and at a more subjective level, I’m aware of having more stamina and higher energy levels.

Samento is not miracle medicine and like many remedies, both prescription and otherwise, affects people differently. When it works it works more slowly than say, antibiotics, but with apparently virtually no adverse reactions, it is certainly worth the wait. 

If in any doubt about any of the information covered in health related articles and it's relevance for you, consult your GP.