Una de Gato, also commonly known as Cat’s Claw, is a plant that grows predominantly in the rain forests of South and Central America. In the past 10 years it has become very popular as an herbal therapy for many different health conditions. Some of its most notable properties are related to its potent anti-inflammatory actions. This has made it a popular therapy for conditions like arthritis, asthma and health issue characterized by inflammation in the gastrointestinal system. Some of the other alkaloids and compounds in the plant have been touted to have some anti-cancer properties.
Your confusion about the use of this plant stems from the fact that Cat’s Claw also has some immune modulating properties. This is why many people take it to help their body fight infection. However, if you have an auto-immune condition there is a theoretical chance that by taking Cat’s Claw you can further rev up your immune system causing an exacerbation of the symptoms. Some other herbs, like maitake mushrooms and Echinacea are also believed to have this potential effect.
Some clinical data does suggest that Cat’s Claw can be supportive in inflammatory conditions that are autoimmune related such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and Rheumatoid arthritis. My advice would be that if you decide to use it start at a very low dose and slowly work your way up to a full dose while monitoring your autoimmune symptoms. The potential to exacerbate your autoimmune disease is mainly theoretical but it is worth being careful when starting any new therapy to see how your body is going to respond.