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What is devil's claw?
Devil's claw is a leafy plant native to southern Africa and
Madagascar. The name is derived from its fruits, which are
covered with small protuberances that look like hooks.
Devil's claw also contains secondary storage roots, or tubers,
that branch our of the plant's main roots. These tubers can
reach a size of 20 centimeters long and three centimeters
thick; most preparations come from the tubers.
Why do we need devil's claw? What
is it used for?
Devil's claw tubers contains three types of glycosides that
are thought to reduce inflammation and promote wound healing.
While research has not supported the use of devil's claw for
arthritis, other studies have found the plant useful in reducing
fever, rheumatism, low back pain and some degenerative musculoskeletal
Devil's claw is also considered incredibly bitter. As such,
it has been used to stimulate the stomach in the production
of acid, which helps improve digestion.
How much devil's claw should I take?
To aid in digestion, 1.5-2.0 grams of powdered tuber per
day are recommended. For arthritis, 4.5-10 grams per day are
What forms of devil's claw are available?
Devil's claw is available as whole or ground (powdered) root
tubers. Dried devil's claw root can be used to make tea.
What can happen if I take too much
devil's claw? Are there any interactions I should be aware
of? What precautions should I take?
Because devil's claw promotes the production of stomach acid,
anyone diagnosed with gastric or duodenal ulcers, heartburn,
gastritis or excessive stomach acid should not use it. People
with gallstones should also consult their health practitioner
before taking devil's claw.
In addition, because devil's claw is cardioactive, it may
interact with some heart medications. If you have a serious
condition, do not take devil's claw before consulting with
your health care provider.
Other Resources :
More You Know About Nutrition
- Blumenthal M (ed.) The Complete German
Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines.
Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998.
- Grahame R, Robinson B. Devil's claw (harpagophytum
procumbens): pharmacological and clinical studies. Ann
Rheum Dis 1981;40:632.
- McLeod D, et al. Investigations of harpagophytum
procumbens (devil's claw) in the treatment of experimental
inflammation and arthritis in the rat. Br J Pharmacol
- Schulz V, Hänsel R, Tyler VE. Rational
Phytotherapy: A Physician's Guide to Herbal Medicine, 3rd
ed. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag, 1998.
- Whitehouse L, et al. Devil's claw (harpagophytum
procumbens): no evidence for anti-inflammatory activity
in the treatment of arthritic disease. Can Med Assoc