Otoba Bark Extract and Cat's Claw Tinctures

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Cat's Claw and Otoba Bark Image for Chronic Lyme

Updated: 3/29/23

About Otoba Bark Extract and Cat’s Claw

Otoba Bark extract and Cat’s Claw may

  • kill the various forms of Borrelia (the Lyme germ),
  • decrease and eliminate biofilms,
  • treat persister Lyme germs unresponsive to regular antibiotics, and
  • prevent Lyme disease relapse.

Marty Ross MD Discusses Otoba Bark and Cat's Claw

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My Experience with Otoba Bark and Cat’s Claw for Lyme Disease

I have had quite a bit of success using the herbs Otoba Bark (Otoba parvifolia) extract and Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa) tinctures, even when prescriptive antibiotics are no longer working. I find this combination helps improve the symptoms of Lyme disease 85-90 percent of the time. This is the same chance of success I see with prescription antibiotics.

I added these two herbs into my treatments in August 2010 based on a research paper published in the July 2010 Townsend Letter. In the paper, Eva Sapi, PhD and colleagues showed that Otoba Bark extract and Cat’s Claw treat the various forms of the Lyme germ and reduce biofilm colonies. Biofilms are slime layers that cover Lyme germs, blocking treatment. For more information, see Biofilms: Lyme Disease Gated Communities.

More recent research published in 2020 from Ying Zhang, MD of Johns Hopkins and colleagues shows Cat’s Claw is effective at treating growing and persister forms of Borrelia (Lyme germs). Persisters are forms of the germs that go into hibernation and can ignore regular antibiotics. For more information about persisters, see How to Treat Persister Lyme & Bartonella.

When I first started to work with Otoba Bark and Cat’s Claw, I introduced them into the treatments of my patients that had plateaued on prescriptive antibiotics at a good level of health. During these plateaus, I had tried various prescriptive regimens targeted at all three forms of the Lyme germs and treated biofilms with lumbrokinase to move the treatments forward, but without success. Many of these patients had energy levels of 80 percent of normal with minimal body pain and good cognition. For these patients, I offered Otoba Bark extract and Cat’s Claw as a means of preventing recurrence of Lyme disease off of prescriptive antibiotics, and to possibly move the treatments forward. I started each of these herbs as tinctures at 10 drops 2 times a day and added 1 drop per dose per day until each patient was at 20 drops 2 times a day.

To my surprise, I observed that nearly 90 percent of patients I placed on this protocol had marked improvements in fatigue by the follow-up two-month appointment. Some reported significant die-off reactions. Eventually, based on my patients’ observations and reported successes, I started to work with Otoba Bark and Cat’s Claw in the middle of treatment courses, and now at the initiation of treatments.

I am pleased for my patients because, across the board, there were good benefits. In the beginning and middle of treatments, I found success with these two herbal tinctures that compared with those of prescriptive antibiotic regimens. At the end of treatments or when a patient has plateaued, I found that these two herbs also moved treatments forward. I also used these herbs in some of my relapse prevention programs. See Finished? And How To Prevent Relapse for more information.

As a nutritional support, the combination of Otoba Bark and Cat’s Claw is a frontline treatment. They are also effective in the middle and to wrap up treatments. These herbs are an equally effective option to prescription antibiotics.

Method of Action of Otoba Bark and Cat’s Claw

So, what is going on here? Based on the work of Dr. Sapi and colleagues, I think the combination of Otoba Bark and Cat’s Claw effectively kills the various forms of Lyme Borrelia while it breaks up biofilms. Dr. Sapi et al.’s work shows that Cat’s Claw and Otoba Bark have a synergistic effect, where the sum of the killing is greater than the individual effects of each herb.

In addition, my success in moving plateaued treatments forward suggests that these herbs can kill germs in dormant or persister phases where prescriptive antibiotics do not work. Dr. Zhang’s research from Johns Hopkins supports this idea.

Dosage of Otoba Bark and Cat’s Claw in Lyme Disease

Over time, because of strong Herxheimer die-off reactions, I changed how I started the Otoba Bark/Cat’s Claw regimen. Now I start treatments at 5 drops 2 times a day of each herb.

  • Otoba Bark and Cats Claw Tinctures 5 drops 2 times a day of each herb and increase the dosage every day by 1 drop per dose until taking 30 drops 2 times a day. If there is a Herxheimer die-off reaction at any dose, do not increase the dose until the die-off reaction has improved. With this adjusted approach I find limited die-off reactions. Take these herbs together without food is best. But they can be taken with other supplements and medications. Do not take them at least 30 minutes before eating and until two hours after eating.


The ideas and recommendations on this website and in this article are for informational purposes only. For more information about this, see the sitewide Terms & Conditions.


View Citations

  1. Datar A, Kaur N, Patel S, Luecke DF, Sapi E. In Vitro Effectiveness of Samento and Banderol Herbal Extracts on the Different Morphological Forms of Borrelia Burgdorferi. Townsend Letter. Published July 2010. Accessed December 1, 2022. https://www.townsendletter.com/July2010/sapi0710.html. (View)
  2. Feng J, Leone J, Schweig S, Zhang Y. Evaluation of natural and botanical medicines for activity against growing and non-growing forms of B. burgdorferi. Front Med (Lausanne). 2020;7:6. doi:10.3389/fmed.2020.00006 (View)
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About The Author

Marty Ross, MD is a passionate Lyme disease educator and clinical expert. He helps Lyme sufferers and their physicians see what really works based on his review of the science and extensive real-world experience. Dr. Ross is licensed to practice medicine in Washington State (License: MD00033296) where he has treated thousands of Lyme disease patients in his Seattle practice.

Marty Ross, MD is a graduate of Indiana University School of Medicine and Georgetown University Family Medicine Residency. He is a member of the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The Institute for Functional Medicine, and The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M).

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