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Cat got your telomeres?

August 13, 2015 by  
Filed under Anti-Aging

The paved road turned to dirt, and eventually the dirt road ended. Then my guide Octavio and I went by boat, deeper into the jungle.

Finally we got to our destination at Puerto Ocopa, the last jungle outpost. Home to the Ashaninka.

The Ashaninka natives welcomed their old friend Octavio, with open arms.

Cat’s claw grows wild in the Peruvian Amazon. So it didn’t take long for me to find a huge vine crawling its way up this enormous tree and its hanging branches.

They treated me like a member of the family, too, and I will always remember how warm and genuine the Ashaninka were to me.

With a history going back thousands of years, the Ashaninka have a profound knowledge of the healing herbs of the Amazon. And this was my last chance to try and preserve that knowledge because their natural habitat was all but gone.

I was especially looking for a healing plant I used in my practice. I had never seen it in its native environment.

And I’m writing to you about it today because I’ve discovered it’s been hiding a huge anti-aging secret. But more on that in a minute…

I was in Peru looking for this plant because I wanted to record and preserve as much of the Ashaninkas’ local herbal healing knowledge and plant lore as I could.

Octavio told me that just 30 years ago, the Ashaninka were still a thriving people in this same area, with their traditions, diet and culture still intact.

But Shining Path terrorists devastated their population. And the Peruvian government leased their lands away.

This might be my last chance to gather as much knowledge as I could. So, off Octavio and I went into the jungle to explore…

As we talked, I couldn’t help but be impressed. Any question I asked about the indigenous medicinal plants and customs he answered like a walking encyclopedia. And I could just tell – he was a “straight shooter.” I could trust him and I was glad to have him on our quest.

And it didn’t take long for us to find what I was looking for. It was Una de Gato, or cat’s claw. This vine grows wild in the highland rainforest. It gets its name from large thorns that allow it to scale around trees – sometimes reaching a height of 100 feet or more.

Here’s a good look at the “claws” that let this health-enhancing plant make its way up into the Amazon jungle’s canopy.

It has a powerful effect on the immune system and the Ashaninkas have used it for thousands of years.

They use it to treat arthritis, asthma, cancer, gastric ulcers, and rheumatism. They have also used cat’s claw to control inflammation, help to heal wounds, and alleviate pain.

If you had visited my wellness clinic years ago, you would have seen many jars of herb and plant mixtures and extracts in jars lining the shelves. Many of the plants I had discovered, researched and used in my practice just weren’t available like some are now. So I would compound them for my patients myself. That included cat’s claw.

Today, modern science discovered that cat’s claw is effective in treating diabetes, prostate problems and fatigue – in addition to its powerful anti-inflammatory effects.

But here’s something even I didn’t know when I was using cat’s claw to help people relieve their pain and stop inflammation:

Cat’s claw protects and lengthens telomeres.

In one recent study I came across in my research, cells treated with cat’s claw extract lengthened telomeres and extended the lifespan of cells by 201%! 1

It’s possible that this telomere-protective power of cat’s claw is why in clinical trials researchers find cat’s claw extract repairs damaged DNA.2

In fact, one group of researchers found that cat’s claw extract can induce DNA repair in the skin and fight skin inflammation. It’s the only natural substance known to do both at the same time.3

Cat’s claw extract’s DNA-protective properties might also be why other studies show cat’s claw can fight cancer 4 and reduce tumors.5

Another possible anti-cancer action of cat’s claw is that it activates caspases. Recent research shows these play a critical role in killing off cancer cells.6

The Uncaria tomentosa and Uncaria sinensis forms of cat’s claw seem to have the most benefit for your telomeres and DNA. But those are just the ones that have been studied the most.

You can use cat’s claw the same way the indigenous people of Peru do. Take the dried bark pieces, which are like tea leaves, and boil them in water in a ceramic tea pot. You drink one strong cup of cat’s claw tea each day to get the telomere-lengthening benefit.

You can also use the ground, dried powder of the bark. But a better way to get cat’s claw might be through a concentrated extract in a capsule.

Most of the ones you’ll find have around 500mg in each capsule, which is a good amount to start with. Look for a supplement that’s made from the inner bark of the plant.

To help repair your skin and keep it looking young and healthy, you might want to try cat’s claw as part of a topical application.  It’s pretty rare to find in this country, but I found a pure source and added it to a new cream you can use at night.  I’ll write to you more about it soon.

To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD
Al Sears, MD

1. Na M, Kim Y, et. al. “Cytoprotective effect on oxidative stress and inhibitory effect on cellular aging of Uncaria sinensis H.” J Ethnopharmacol. 2004;95(2-3):127-32.
2. Sheng Y, Bryngelsson C, Pero R. “Enhanced DNA repair, immune function and reduced toxicity of C-MED-100, a novel aqueous extract from Uncaria tomentosa.” J Ethnopharmacol. 2000;69(2):115-26.
3. Mammone T, Akesson C, Gan D, Giampapa V, Pero R. “A water soluble extract from Uncaria tomentosa is a potent enhancer of DNA repair in primary organ cultures of human skin.” Phytother Res. 2006;20(3):178-83.
4. Rinner B, Li Z, Haas H, Siegl V, Sturm S, Stuppner H, Pfragner R. “Antiproliferative and pro-apoptotic effects of Uncaria tomentosa in human medullary thyroid carcinoma cells.” Anticancer Res. 2009;29(11):4519-28.
5. Dreifuss A, et. al. “Antitumoral and antioxidant effects of a hydroalcoholic extract of cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) in an in vivo carcinosarcoma model.” J Ethnopharmacol. 2010;130(1):127-33.
6. Salve P, et. al. “Activation of caspases by cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa): future treatment for cancer.” Journal of Pharmacy Research 2009;Vol. 2 No. 11 pp. 1707-1711


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Al Sears, M.D., is a practicing physician with extensive experience in the fields of complementary and natural healthcare. The recommendation and materials on this site represent his opinion based on his years of practicing medicine. Any recommendations are not intended to replace the advice of your physician. You are encouraged to seek advice from a competent medical professional regarding the applicability of any recommendations with regard to your symptoms or condition. It is important that you do not reduce, change or discontinue any medication or treatment without consulting your physician first.