forgot password

encyclopedia of health Get your personal health analysis
Welcome to the Truestar Health Encyclopedia the most comprehensive information database available on health, wellness, food, nutrition, vitamins and supplements. Use of our encyclopedia will enable you to make well-informed, responsible decisions for the promotion of your own health and wellness.
Enter search items    

Devil’s Claw

Botanical name: Harpagophytum procumbens

Photo

© Martin Wall

Parts used and where grown

Devil’s claw is a native plant of southern Africa, especially the Kalahari desert, Namibia and the island of Madagascar. The name devil’s claw is derived from the herb’s unusual fruits, which are covered with numerous small claw-like appendages. The secondary storage roots, or tubers, of the plant are used in herbal supplements.1

Devil’s claw has been used in connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual health concern for complete information):

Science Ratings Health Concerns
2Stars

Osteoarthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis

1Star

Indigestion

Low back pain

3Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.

Historical or traditional use (may or may not be supported by scientific studies)

Numerous tribes native to southern Africa have used devil’s claw for a wide variety of conditions, ranging from gastrointestinal difficulties to arthritic conditions.2 Devil’s claw has been widely used in Europe as a treatment for arthritis.

Active constituents

The devil’s claw tuber contains three important constituents belonging to the iridoid glycoside family: harpagoside, harpagide, and procumbide. The secondary tubers of the herb contain twice as much harpagoside as the primary tubers and are the chief source of devil’s claw used medicinally.3 Harpagoside and other iridoid glycosides found in the plant may be responsible for the herb’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic actions. However, research has not entirely supported the use of devil’s claw in alleviating arthritic pain symptoms.4 5 In one trial it was found to reduce pain associated with osteoarthritis as effectively as the slow-acting analgesic/cartilage-protective drug diacerhein.6 One double-blind study reported that devil’s claw (600 or 1200 mg per day) was helpful in reducing low back pain.7

Devil’s claw is also considered by herbalists to be a potent bitter. Bitter principles, like the iridoid glycosides found in devil’s claw, can be used in combination with carminative (gas-relieving) herbs by people with indigestion, but not heartburn.

How much is usually taken?

As a digestive stimulant, 1.5–2 grams per day of the powdered secondary tuber are used.8 For tincture, the recommended amount is 1–2 ml three times daily. For osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, 4.5–10 grams of powder are used per day. Alternatively, standardized extracts, 1,200–2,500 mg per day, may be taken.

Are there any side effects or interactions?

Since devil’s claw promotes the secretion of stomach acid, anyone with gastric or duodenal ulcers, heartburn, gastritis, or excessive stomach acid should not use the herb. Additionally, people with gallstones should consult a physician before taking devil’s claw.9

Are there any drug interactions?
Certain medicines may interact with devil’s claw. Refer to drug interactions for a list of those medicines.

References:

1. Tyler VE. The Honest Herbal, 3d ed. Binghamton, NY: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1993, 111–2.

2. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum, 1988, 238–9.

3. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 208–10.

4. 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;129:249–51.

5. Grahame R, Robinson BV. Devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens): pharmacological and clinical studies. Ann Rheum Dis 1981;40:632.

6. Chantre P, Cappelaere A, Leblan D, et al. Efficacy and tolerance of Harpagophytum procumbens versus diacerhein in treatment of osteoarthritis. Phytomed 2000;7:177–83.

7. Chrubasik S, Zimpfer C, Schutt U, Ziegler R. Effectiveness of Harpagophytum procumbens in treatment of acute low back pain. Phytomed 1996;3:1–10.

8. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 120–1.

9. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 120–1.

All Indexes
Health Issues Men's Health Women's Health
Health Centers Cold, Flu, Sinus, and Allergy Diabetes Digestive System Pain and Arthritis Sports Nutrition
Safetychecker by Drug by Herbal Remedy by Supplement
Homeopathy by Remedy
Herbal Remedies by Botanical Name
Integrative Options
Foodnotes Food Guide by Food Group Vitamin Guide
Become a Sales Superstar
Learn how to earn more by selling
more and closing with higher ratios