Could Devil’s Claw Be The Answer To Inflammation

Published on June 18, 2007 in Herbal Medicine


Devil’s claw has been used by native African tribes for centuries to treat rheumatism, arthritis, lower back pain, tendonitis, and dyspepsia. Harpagophytum Procumbens, also known as Devil’s claw, is found in South Africa and used by locals to treat fever, blood disease, sores, skin ulcers, and sprains.

Devil’s claw was first discovered by Germans in the mid 1900’s, who introduced it to Europe as native medicines from the Bushman. Studies were done on devil’s claw in German universities over forty years ago. Studies are still being conducted on the healing properties of devil’s claw even to this day. Devil’s claw is one of the herbs approved by the German Commission E and the European Scientific Cooperation of Phytotherapy (ESCOP). Devil’s claw has been deemed by both organizations to be a safe and effective treatment for rheumatism, arthritis, osteoarthritis and tendonitis because of the analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties it possesses.

Studies have shown that with continued use, devil’s claw can successfully reduce pain and improve mobility in patients suffering from rheumatic and arthritic conditions in just a few short weeks of use. Devil’s claw is known as a bitter herb, several studies have shown devil’s claw to have hypotensive and anti-arrhythmic properties and aid in relieving minor stomach complaints and discomfort.

The scientists involved these devil’s claw studies believe it to be more effective as an aid against chronic conditions like arthritis and back pain as to conditions of an acute nature. Many studies have been conducted and results do vary, but one study in particular demonstrated a reduction in back pain by 20 percent compared to 8 percent in the placebo group. The study used the standard lower back pain index for its results.

In Europe, doctors use devil’s claw with traditional medicine because there are no known side effects reported and no drug interactions reported between medications and devil’s claw. The only side effects reported were mild gastro-intestinal discomfort like diarrhea. Devil’s claw has a mild gastric stimulating effect and is not recommended for patients who have ulcers.

The active ingredient in devil’s claw that causes these beneficial effects on the body is called iridoid glycosides. All the studies conducted used dosages of this active ingredient ranging from 20mg to 1200mgs of herb per kilogram of body weight. If you’re considering devil’s claw as an alternative or complement to standard medications already prescribed always consult your doctor first before taking matters into your own hands. Even though devil’s claw has been approved in Europe for symptoms listed above, in the United States the FDA has not approved this herbal supplement to help treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult your doctor before starting any new herbal supplement along with medications prescribed. Effective preparations of devil’s claw consist of liquid infusions, capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts. When shopping for devil’s claw at your local or internet health food store, always read the label and look for an herbal product that is guaranteed or standardized to the active ingredients.

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