Scientific name: Unaria gambir
Indonesian name: Gambir
Batak name: Gabbir
Uncaria is a genus of flowering plants in the family Rubiaceae. It has about 40 species. Their distribution is pantropical, with most species native to tropical Asia, three from Africa and the Mediterranean and two from the neotropics. They are known colloquially as gambier, cat’s claw or uña de gato. The latter two names are shared with several other plants. The type species for the genus is Uncaria guianensis.
Gambier extract is used or has been used as a catechu for chewing with areca and betel, for tanning and dyeing, and as herbal medicine. Gambier extract was also used by native people as a medical treatment or prevention of diseases that were believed to be spread by the now obsolete medical theory of miasma.
The Indians invented paan, a gambir paste, that was believed to help prevent miasma; it was considered as the first antimiasmatic application. The gambir tree is found in Southern India and Sri Lanka.