Devil's Claw Uses, Benefits, And Warnings.
By: Patrick Mansfield | U.S. Health Alerts

Devil’s claw, also known as Harpagophytum, is a herb often used to make medicine from its roots and tubers. The native-African herb often referred to as 'wood spider', gets its name from its hook covered appearance. These hooks attach to animals as a way to spread the plant's seeds. 

Common uses for devil's claw, believed to decrease 
swelling and inflammation, include:

Muscle, chest, and back pain
Bladder disease

Additional applications include nutritional supplements, childbirth difficulties, menstrual issues, allergic reactions, loss of appetite, and kidney disease.


The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database determines the effectiveness of holistic remedies based on scientific evidence. Their scale is as follows: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

Read on for the ratings of devil's claw according to their guidelines:

Possibly effective 

Back pain -Devil’s claw is thought to work almost as well as certain non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Osteoarthritis- Consuming devils claw alone or in conjunction with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) seems to decrease pain associated with osteoarthritis. Some studies show devil’s claw works comparably to diacerein - a drug used to treat osteoarthritis - for decreasing pain in the hip and knee following 16 weeks of treatment.
A particular study used powdered devil's claw root - Harpadol, Arkopharma - composed of 2% harpagoside (9.5 mg per capsule) and 3% iridoid glycosides (14.5 mg total per capsule). Yet another used devil's claw extract - Doloteffin, Ardeypharm - at 2400 mg per day with 60 mg per day of harpagoside also used. 

Insufficient Evidence

Rheumatoid arthritis: Early research suggests that taking devil’s claw nutritional supplements do not improve rheumatoid arthritis. 

Additional conditions where further research is required include: 
Loss of appetite
High cholesterol
Muscle pain
Skin conditions
Safety and Side Effects

Devil’s claw, when ingested in recommended doses for up to a year, is considered possibly safe. The safety of using devil's claw long-term or applying it to the skin is unknown. Common side effects include: 

Diarrhea - about 8% of adults in a particular research group experienced diarrhea
Nausea or vomiting
Abdominal pain
Ringing ears
Reduced appetite and taste
Allergic reactions
Menstrual issues
Increase or decrease in blood pressure

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding - It is best to avoid the use of devils claw during pregnancy and breastfeeding as it might harm the developing baby or pass through milk when nursing. 

Heart and blood pressure issues
- Check with your doctor before using devil's claw if you have heart or blood pressure issues as it may harm the circulatory system in those cases. 

- Since devil’s claw is capable of lowering blood glucose levels, it can cause blood sugar levels to drop to a dangerously low point when used in conjunction with certain medications. Treatment with devil's claw should be approved and closely monitored by your doctor. 

Gallstones - Avoid using devil's claw if you suffer from gallstones as it may raise bile levels.

Peptic ulcer disease - Due to its ability to increase stomach acids, people with ulcers should avoid taking devil's claw.
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