Native to Southern Africa, Devil’s Claw has been known for hundreds of years for its healing capabilities. For centuries, inhabitants of the Kalahari Deserts have dried and chopped the roots of this plant to help treat indigestion, open sores, and, most importantly, relieve pain.
Devil’s claw has become increasingly popular for its pain-relieving capabilities as an alternative to pharmaceutical pain relievers. Even if you are not interested in devil’s claw as a form of pain relief, the plant can be used as a natural remedy for many other conditions.
Botanical Name and Family of Devil’s Claw
Devil’s claw is botanically known as Harpagophytum procumbens. It is a part of the Pedaliaceae or Sesame family and is also referred to as Grapple plant, Harpago, and Wood Spider.
What Is Devil’s Claw?
Devil’s claw is an herb, its name is derived from the peculiar claw-like appearance of the plant. The tubers and roots of this plant are used in traditional medicine for pain and inflammation.
Active Ingredients Found in Devil’s Claw
Devil’s claw contains iridoid glycosides such as harpagoside, harpagide, and procumbide.
Health Benefits of Devil’s Claw
Traditionally, devil’s claw has been used for inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism, muscle pain, chest pain, arthritis pain, and gout. It was also considered effective for problems related to the gallbladder and liver, loss of appetite, and digestive problems.
Different Way to Consume Devil’s Claw
Devil’s claw is available in the form of pills, creams, tinctures and standardized extracts that must be consumed only in the doses prescribed by a qualified herbal practitioner.
Side Effects of Devil’s Claw
Although not very common, devil’s claw may cause allergic reactions, such as swelling of the face, tongue, and lips, in addition to hives, difficulty breathing, headache, and a ringing sensation in the ears.
For those taking anticoagulant medication, those with hyperacidity and peptic ulcers, and those suffering from gallstones, it’s best to avoid taking devil’s claw. Seek advice from your primary care physician before considering to use this herb to treat any health conditions.
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Brien S, Lewith GT, McGregor G. Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) as a treatment for osteoarthritis: A review of efficacy and safety. J Altern Complement Med. 2006 Dec ; 12(10) :981-93. Review. PubMed PMID: 17212570.
Mahomed IM, Ojewole JA. Analgesic, antiinflammatory and antidiabetic properties of Harpagophytum procumbens DC (Pedaliaceae) secondary root aqueous extract. Phytother Res. 2004 Dec;18(12):982-9. PubMed PMID: 15742343.