Devil's claw is a plant native to southern Africa found growing in the Kalahari desert, Namibia, the island of Madagascar and few other locations. The name devil's claw comes from the herb's unusual fruits, which are covered with numerous small claw-like appendages. The roots, or tubers, of the plant are used in herbal preparations.
Devil's claw has been used as a tonic to relieve arthritis, rheumatism, reduce fever, ease sore muscles, and to reduce cholesterol. Externally, devil's claw has been used as an ointment in connection with sores, boils, and ulcers. It is also used to cleanse the lymph system and to remove toxins from the blood.
Traditionally, devil's claw has been used in Africa in connection with a wide range of conditions. In the western world, it is used mainly for arthritis and related conditions such as tendonitis. In laboratory and human studies, a chemical called harpagoside, one of the active ingredients in devil's claw, has been shown to reduce inflammation which is responsible for irritation, injury, or infection. Inflammation generally results in pain, redness, and swelling in the area of the damage. It can occur within body tissues as well as on the surface of the skin.
Reportedly, devil's claw also has some effectiveness for increasing appetite and for improving digestion. Extracts of devil's claw are thought to reduce blood sugar levels somewhat, and several of the chemicals in devil's claw appear to affect blood pressure, heart rate, hearth rythm and contraction of the heart. However, no reliable scientific evidence supports the use of devil's claw for diabetes or heart conditions.Dosage and Administration
Usually 200 mg of devils claw standardized to 5 harpogoside is taken daily. If supplementing with this herb always follow manufacturers instructions.Side Effects
Side effects are rare with the recommended intake of devils claw. Devil's claw is a nontoxic and relatively safe herb, with almost no side effects if taken at the recommended dose for short periods of time. However, it has been reported that high doses may cause mild gastrointestinal problems in some individuals .
Warning: Not to be taken during pregnancy, as devils claw may act as a uterine stimulant. Supporting LiteratureBaghdikian B, Lanhers M, Fleurentin J, et al. An analytical study, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of Harpagophytum procumbens and Harpagophytum zeyheri. Planta Med. 1997;63:171-176.
Chantre P, Cappelaere A, Leblan D, Guedon D, Vandermander J, Fournie B. Efficacy and tolerance of Harpagophytum procumbens versus diacerhein in treatment of osteoarthritis. Phytomedicine. 2000;7(3):177-183.
Grahame R, Robinson BV. Devil's claw (Harpagophytum procumbens): pharmacological and clinical studies. Ann Rheum Dis 1981;40:632.
Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum, 1988, 238-239.
Whitehouse LW, Znamirouska M, Paul CJ. Devil's claw (Harpagophytum procumbens): no evidence for anti-inflammatory activity in the treatment of arthritic disease. Can Med Assoc J 1983;129:249-251.