Research from the University of Costa Rica – UCR and Spain found more health benefits in the cat’s claw plant (Uncariatomentosa) produced in Pococí Limón. It has always been known that the plant serves to improve the circulatory system and control diabetes and obesity; however, it is now known to work against cancer cells in the digestive system.
The team from the Institute for Research in Food Sciences of the Spanish Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), led by Dr. María Monagas and the Bioactivity for Sustainable Development (BIODESS) group of the UCR School of Chemistry led by Dr. Mirtha Navarro, came together to work with the Costa Rican “cat’s claw”, with a different approach to the traditional one, extracting its polyphenol content and evaluating its potential bioactive properties.
For the research, resources were obtained from the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AECID) and the Costa Rica-United States Foundation (CRUSA).
The investigations found methods for better use of the plant. In this regard, Dr. Mirtha Navarro explains that:
The research focused on the leaves of the plant, where we found the compounds in abundance, more than those present in the bark or root; which implied many years of waiting for its use, since, when cutting the bark or root, the plant is destroyed.
Traditionally, the studies were carried out with plant compounds called oxindolic alkaloids, whose use involved complex laboratory processes for the industry and very few quantities were obtained. In the last decade, advances in science and technology have made it possible to identify and evaluate other types of compounds, polyphenols, in plants and foods, which have antioxidant, antimicrobial, antitumor, and system protective cardiovascular properties, among others and that it is also possible to extract more efficiently, which are direct benefits of plants.
Dr. Navarro is one of the best specialists in chemistry and natural medicine in Latin America. In fact, she is vice president of the Committee on Medicinal Plants and Nutritional Supplements of the United States Pharmacopeia, the highest authority in ensuring the quality of products of botanical origin.
The research projects developed at the UCR were:
B0511 Polyphenols in cat’s claw (Uncariatomentosa). Study of bioactive properties.
B0524 Costa Rican cat’s claw: active compounds, phytotherapeutic products and sustainable development.
B2514 Proanthocyanidins from Uncariatomentosa and their microbial catabolism.
Her experience and that of her colleagues allowed us to carry out in vitro laboratory studies that confirm that cat’s claw inhibits bacteria that cause respiratory problems and that it also acts against cancer cells in the digestive system, this becomes more relevant since this type of cancer is one of the most common in the country, and complements the known properties of cat’s claw that helps improve the immune system.
Ally of health
Dr. Navarro assured that:The results of laboratory studies indicate that cat’s claw acts against bacteria that cause respiratory problems, the proanthocyanidins found are recognized for their contribution to the immune system and, in addition, we worked with stomach and colon cancer cells, and it was possible to demonstrate that there was cytotoxicity, that is, with clinical studies it could be verified that patients can improve their health condition.
These studies are added to those carried out internationally that also describe the properties of cat’s claw, but the credit lies in the fact that extracts were made with the recently discovered plant compounds. Other investigations give cat’s claw properties to improve the circulatory system and control diabetes and obesity.
For his part, Dr. Alexis Naranjo, a specialist in Orthomolecular Medicine, assured that:
There are hundreds of studies in the world that demonstrate its benefits in cytotoxic conditions, on certain abnormal cells, viruses, bacteria and tumor cells.There are benefits in metabolic diseases, in cancer that is being studied, in rheumatic diseases, even in patients with asthma and arthritis. It enhances the immune system because it helps us eliminate abnormal cells in the body, such as some pathogens or cells that can make us sick, such as viruses and bacteria, and this generates a balance in the system that helps remove free radicals or waste substances. this reason that regulates the functions and lowers the chronic inflammation of the body, which is related to chronic diseases such as: pressure, diabetes and obesity.
With these novel results, the UCR and the CSIC registered a patent in Spain and a patent application in Costa Rica, about the process of obtaining extracts enriched with polyphenols.
Ronald Alvarado Vindas, Costa Rican nationalized Spanish is the person who was interested in giving life to this project, the businessman now based in Costa Rica, learned about the investigation and showed interest in bringing these extracts closer to the population, and in this way the company ALPULI obtained a license to take the results to an industrial level.
Since May 2022, the extract has been developed and marketed as a food supplement in Spain under the “NOVA LIFE” brand and as a natural product, registered with the Costa Rican Ministry of Health.
In my family, my mother-in-law suffered from breast cancer and this greatly impacted the life of my wife Guadalupe Pulido. I have always had faith in natural medicine and I started taking it for diabetes. I had fasting blood glucose levels above 200 and 4 years later They have already lowered me to 100, so I want to share this research with other Ticos so that many people can benefit from taking this plant.
Another important achievement for the country has been the benefit for the farmers of Pococí, who with ALPULI S.A. They worked on the development of a sustainable production, improving the cultivation systems that allow the harvest of the leaves and their sustainable use, ensuring the production cycle, with quality raw material. Currently there are 20 planted hectares.