Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum Procumbens)

Devil's Claw Benefits

Devil's claw is approved as a nonprescription medicine by the German Commission E and is used to relieve arthritis, lower back, knee and hip pain. It is also used to treat a number of ailments including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, bursitis, tendonitis, loss of appetite and digestive disorders.

Great news for pain sufferers who have grown dependent on pain killers for relief: recently published double blind studies have shown that Devil's Claw can relieve pain from arthritis in as little as ten days of use1, lower back, knee and hip pain included. It is also used to treat osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, bursitis, tendonitis and soft tissue pain (muscle aches).

Since studies have shown no side effects, even at very high doses, Devil's claw can be an alternative for those taking over-the-counter pain medications such as Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen, which can cause liver and stomach problems. Devil's claw can be a healthier approach to treating joint pain.

Devil's Claw has been a popular anti-inflammatory and arthritis treatment since is was first discovered in South Africa by European colonists in the 18th century. It is still quite common in Europe today but is not well known in the U.S.

Devil's claw is approved as a nonprescription medicine by the German Commission E, an expert panel of physicians and pharmacists who advise Germany's counterpart of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Approved uses of devil's claw include loss of appetite, digestive disorders, and "degenerative disorders of the locomotor system" (to treat pain and inflammation in the joints).

A new clinical study shows that a traditional African medicinal herb may reduce pain associated with osteoarthritis as effectively as some conventional drugs. In a randomized, double-blind, parallel group study conducted in France, the patients received either capsules containing the herb devil's claw or a pharmaceutical drug. Pain measurements of all patients indicated that those taking the herb and the drug experienced similar benefits. However, the study also showed that patients taking the herb experienced significantly fewer adverse side effects than those taking the drug.

Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council, a nonprofit research and education organization, "At least two previous clinical trials on devil's claw have supported its use as an aid in treating lower back pain and rheumatic conditions. This study is significant in that it is the first to show the potential benefits of devil's claw for osteoarthritis."

_1. ESCOP monograph. Fascicule 2: Harpagophyti radix (Devil's Claw) Exeter, UK: European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy. Double blind study, various types of arthritis. Conclusion: significant pain relief in 10 days of treatment. 2. Chrubasik S., et al Effectiveness of Harpagophyti radix (Devil's Claw) in treatment of acute low back pain. Phytomedicine 3(1). 1996 Double blind study of soft tissue pain (muscles, tendons) Conclusion: Soft tissue pain relieved. _

Devil's Claw Herb Notes / Side Effects

Latin Names

Harpagophytum procumbens, Harpagophyti radix, Uncaria procumbens

Common Names

Devil's Claw, Grapple Plant, Wood Spider, Harpago, Sengaparile (Tswana), Duiwelsklou (Afrikaans)


moderately anti-inflammatory, Improves digestion. choleretic, antiphlogistic, and mild analgesic.


Loss of appetite, supportive therapy of degenerative disorders of the locomotor system. Gastric and duodenal ulcers, Dyspepsia, Peptic ulcers, heartburn, arthroses, tendonitis, indigestion, blood diseases, headache, allergies, lumbago, neuralgia, and fever, and externally for sores, ulcer, boils, and skin lesions. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, bursitis, tendonitis and soft tissue pain (muscle aches).

There appears to be a risk of increased bleeding when devil's claw is taken together with anticoagulant drugs (blood-thinners), such as warfarin (coumadin) and heparin.

Don't take devil's claw during pregnancy or while breast-feeding.

Consult your doctor before taking it if you have ulcers, gallstones, or a heart problem.

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