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Information @ a Glance

General Information

  • Uncaria is a genus of flowering plants in the family Rubiaceae, native to Asia, Africa, and South America. They are known colloquially as Gambier, Cat's Claw or Uņa de Gato.

  • Gambier (U. gambir) is a large tropical vine with typical leaves.The leaves are oval or oblong in shape measuring 8 to 14 cm. in length with 4 to 5 pairs of nerves.

  • The flower heads measure around 2.5 cm in length and are separated across by 3 to 4.5 cm. The flowers are slender with white coloured lobes and a red coloured corolla.

Preparation

  • Traditional gambier is prepared by boiling the young leaves, pressing them to extract juice, making the juice into a concentrated form and drying it. There are different ways of moulding the final produce, in a block, cube or cake form. Different ways of boiling parts of the gambier plant result in different products of a varying taste.

  • Besides catechol tannins, which predominate, GAMBIER also contains sugars, salts, waxes, oils and even mineral substances.

Properties

  • Gambir is "usually in cubical or rectangular pieces from 20 to 30 mm. in diameter; externally pale grayish-brown to reddish-brown, more or less dull and porous; friable; internally of a light brown or dull earthy color; inodorous; taste bitterish and very astringent.

  • Gambir is light and porous, so that it floats when thrown in water. It is partially soluble in cold water, and almost wholly so in boiling water, which deposits a portion upon cooling.

Applications

  • Gambier is used in Malaysia for chewing with areca and betel, for tanning, and for dyeing.
  • Cat's claw and the Chinese species are used medicinally. The glycosidic compounds have anti-inflammatory properties, while the alkaloids increase the reactivity of lymphocytes, granting higher response to viral infection.
  • Gambier is widely used for Leather Tanning, as Eco friendly dyes and as Mouth Freshener.

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