An aromatic plant from Namibia — with an unholy name — can banish arthritis pain. This “unholy” plant is devil’s claw. It has many medicinally benefits that have been used all around the world.
If you judge a book by its cover, it’s easy to understand how devil’s claw (botanical name: harpagophytum procumbens, meaning “hook plant”) got its name. Two curving, devilish-looking hooks extend from either end of the plant’s fruit pods.
Despite its “wicked appearance,” Devil’s Claw stores a wealth of medicinal benefits in its roots and tubers — so much so that you might think it deserving of a more angelic moniker!
Most of the world’s devil’s claw — also called grapple plant or wood spider — grows in Namibia, but it can also be found in South Africa and Botswana.
For thousands of years, Devil’s Claw Supplement has been used throughout Africa as a remedy for a variety of afflictions, such as:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Skin conditions
- Gallbladder conditions
- Pancreas conditions
- Stomach conditions
- Kidney conditions
- Back pain
Modern researchers have found that devil’s claw supplements substantially reduces pain and also improves physical functioning for individuals suffering from osteoarthritis.
When compared to a leading European medication, devil’s claw supplement was found to be just as effective — and those treated with devil’s claw experienced fewer side effects and required fewer supplemental pain-reducing medications.
Study results suggest that treatment with devil’s claw root alleviates muscle pain. It has been effective in treating chronic low back pain as well as neck and shoulder pain.
Like many natural cures, devil’s claw is often shunted to the side in favor of mainstream Western medications — despite the herb’s proven history. Overseeing agencies, especially in the United States, are hesitant to recommend nonpharmaceutical medications, even when the herbal option is as good or better than its over-the-counter (OTC) counterpart.
German Commission E (the equivalent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration), is perhaps more liberal-minded than its analog in the States, and has approved reports stating that devil’s claw supplements are superior to traditional painkillers in several respects.
Devil’s claw supplements have . . .
- Virtually no side effects
- No risk of liver or stomach problems
- No risk of dependency
For these reasons and more, devil’s claw can be a healthier approach to pain treatment than over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
Devil’s Claw Supplement Many Medicinal Uses
The Khosian peoples of Madagascar and the Kalahari Desert use devil’s claw to treat complications of pregnancy, to heal sores and boils, and to relieve pain. At the beginning of the 20th century, devil’s claw migrated to Europe where it was primarily prepared as a bitter tea and used as a cure for digestive conditions. The dried root was also used to reduce pain and inflammation.
According to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, a branch of the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s National Institutes of Health, the current medical applications of Devil’s Claw are varied and include the following conditions:
- Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
- Muscle pain (myalgia)
- Back pain
- Chest pain
- Gastrointestinal (GI) upset or heartburn
- Migraine and other headaches
- Difficulties in childbirth
- Menstrual problems
- Allergic reactions
- Loss of appetite
- Kidney and bladder disease
- Superficial skin injuries and topical conditions
Standard Preparation and Use of Devil’s Claw
Devil’s claw is typically prepared as a tincture, tea, or capsule. The active ingredient is believed to be harpogoside, and approved dosages vary.
The NIH studies done for osteoarthritis used a dose containing 57 mg of harpogoside daily. The studies on back pain used a dose of devil’s claw standardized to contain 50-100 mg of harpogoside, taken up to 3 times a day.
While only indigestion and a few side effects of devil’s claw have emerged in studies so far, its use has not been studied for pregnant or breastfeeding women, and risks are unknown for them as well as for those who suffer from peptic ulcer disease (PUD), ulcers, heart problems, high or low blood pressure, or diabetes.