Scientific Name/Common Name: Harpagophytum procumbens / Devil’s Claw
Part(s) Used: Root
Constituents/Active Ingredients: Devil’s Claw is composed of three iridoid glycosides: harpagoside, harpagide, and procumbide, which may be responsible for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Other active ingredients include beta-sitosterol, flavonoids (kaempferol and luteolin glycosides),phenolic acids, chlorogenic and cinnamic acid, a quinone, harpagoquinone, triterpenes, oleanolic and ursolic acid derivatives, esters, sugars, and gum resin.
Overview: Devil’s claw is native to South Africa and Madagascar. The bitter root and its extracts have been used in folk medicine by several African tribes for their digestive aid and pain-killing properties, particularly for joint pain, as well as for lowering fever. Devil’s claw creams have also been used traditionally to help heal wounds, sores, boils, and other skin problems. The German Commission E lists devil’s claw root for treating loss of appetite, dyspeptic complaints, and in supportive therapy for degenerative disorders of the locomotor system (bone and joint disorders and pain). Several clinical studies using devil’s claw aqueous extracts standardized to 50 mg harpagoside found significant improvements for arthritic pain and inflammation after 4 to 8 weeks.
Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: Traditionally used in Herbal Medicine as a bitter to help stimulate appetite, relieve digestive disturbances such as dyspepsia and to help relieve joint pain.
Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:
Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinkmann J, editors. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Boston (MA): Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.
Gagnier JJ, Chrubasik S, Manheimer E. Harpgophytum procumbens for osteoarthritis and low back pain: a systematic review. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2004 Sep 15;4:13. Review.
Brien S, Lewith GT, McGregor G. Devil’s claws (Harpagophytum procumbens) as a treatment for osteoarthritis: A review of efficacy and safety. The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine 2006;12(10):981-993.
Disclaimer: This information in our Herbal Encyclopedia is intended only as a general reference for educational purposes. It is not a replacement for medical advice. This content does not provide dosage information, cautions/contraindications, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Please consult any relevant product labels for detailed information on use and with a medical practitioner for individual health advice.