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Devil's Claw - Uses and Benefits

Other Names: Grapple Plant, Harpagophytum procumbens, Wood Spider.
Scientific Name: Harpagophytum Procumbens.

Plant Description

Given the popularity of Devil's Claw as a herbal remedy, more and more people are using its various forms such as herbal cream, tincture, capsules and tablets. Devil's claw is a tender trailing perennial with tubers and many round to oval-shaped stems. The leaves have white, hairy undersides. It is mainly native to southern africa and grows in the Kalahari Desert and produces brilliant red/purple flowers with woody barbed fruit. Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) is named for the miniature hooks that cover its fruit.

Uses and Benefits of Devil's Claw

Some of the Main Uses of Devil's Claw are:

  • In the western world, devil's claw is promoted mainly for the treatment of osteoarthritis and related conditions such as tendonitis.
  • It has been used for increasing appetite and for improving digestion because its bitter taste promotes the production of saliva and stomach acids.
  • Traditional South African remedy for digestive problems, especially gall bladder or stomach.
  • Devil's claw may also promote the release of natural body chemicals that oppose inflammation.
  • It is also helpful in lowering blood pressure, slowing heart rate, and also normalize heart rhythm in laboratory animals.
  • Devil's Claw has been used most frequently as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent for arthritis and other painful musculoskeletal conditions.
  • It has also been used for anorexia and dyspepsia, as a bitter tonic, and as an antipyretic.
  • Devil's Claw has been used as a tonic, as a treatment for reducing fever, ease sore muscles, reduce cholesterol, and externally the ointment is used to treat sores, boils, and ulcers.
  • For thousands of years, the Khoisan peoples of the Kalahari Desert have used devil's claw root in remedies to treat pain and complications of pregnancy and as a topical ointment.

Dosage for Devil's Claw

Traditionally, 3-6 g/day of dried root is taken in three divided doses for analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity. A smaller daily dose of 0.5-1.5 g has been recommended for patients suffering from anorexia. Clinical trials for pain relief have used doses ranging as low as 0.75-2.6 g/day of dried root, but most studies used extracts corresponding to about 3-6 g/day (2-2.4 g/day of a 2.5:1 solid extract, or 0.6-1.2 g/day of a 5: 1 powdered extract). Devil's claw is usually available in many different forms: whole, ground, liquid extract, tincture, and dried root. Tea can be made from the dried root.

Caution: Things to Remember Before Use of Devil's Claw

Herbal authorities advice caution when using devil's claw (considered a "bitter" herb, which is thought to stimulate gastric acid) in the presence of peptic ulcers, although this potential effect has not been reported or evaluated.

  • Strictly follow directions written on the package.
  • If you plan to take devil's claw to treat rheumatism (inflammatory condition involving joints, ligaments, bursae, and/or muscle), it must be only done in the presence of a professional health care provider only.
  • If you have a serious medical condition, especially heart related, consult a medical professional. This herb is cardioactive (acts on the heart).
  • Devil's Claw should never be taken during pregnancy, as it may act as a uterine stimulant.

Adverse Side Effects of Devil's Claw

Side effects are rare with the recommended intake of devils claw as written on the product label. It is a nontoxic and relatively safe herb, with almost no side effects if taken at the recommended dose for short periods of time. However, it has been reported that high doses may cause mild gastrointestinal problems in some individuals.

Since devil's claw promotes the secretion of stomach acid, anyone with gastric or duodenal ulcers , heartburn , gastritis , or excessive stomach acid should not use the herb. Additionally, people with gallstones should consult a physician before taking devil's claw.

Some other Side Effects encountered in some people may be:

  • Headache.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Nausea.
  • Taste changes.
  • Vomiting.

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