Devil’s Claw Origins
Devil’s claw is a native plant of Africa, growing in the southern countries of Namibia and South Africa. It has been used by the people of the Kalahari Desert as a traditional remedy for pain, pregnancy complications, and skin problems for thousands of years. During the twentieth century this medicinal plant was used in Europe to treat heartburn, pain and inflammation, and as a digestive tonic. It is still used today by traditional herbalists.
Devil’s claw, or Harpagophytum procumbens, grows well in an arid environment, where the soil is dry, clayous, or sandy. The roots, which contain the medicinal properties of the plant, are harvested once the rainy seasons have ended and the rhizomes are at their nutritional apex.
Devil’s claw benefits are primarily due to the presence of the glycoside, harpagoside. Other active phytochemicals include harpagide and procumbine. What are the medicinal properties of this African herb? Devil’s claw has both anti-inflammatory and anodyne properties, meaning it is useful for addressing pain and inflammation. Harpogoside appears to directly reduce joint inflammation. This has drawn the attention of medical researchers and professionals to the potential for devil’s claw.
Studies have shown that the use of the dried root, or an extract of the medicinal constituents, relieves arthritic and lower back pain, however it is not effective in all cases. Research has shown that supplementing with devil’s claw for a period of at least one month reduces the symptoms of :
- Hip and knee arthritis
- Back pain
- Neck pain
Tests have even proven the herb to be as effective as common prescription medications, such as Celebrax.
While devil’s claw has become a respected medicinal plant in the field of conventional medicine to treat arthritis, it is still used in traditional herbal therapy to treat:
- Poor appetite
- Upset stomach
- Minor skin sores and ulcers when applied topically
How to Use
There are several options for using devil’s claw. It is available as:
- Liquid extract, take two to seven drops
- Tincture, take one dropperful, or thirty drops
- Capsules containing the dried root powder, follow instructions on bottle
- Dried roots, which can be made into an herbal infusion. Infuse one-half to one teaspoon of the dried herb in one cup of boiling water for ten minutes.
These doses can be taken from one to three times daily during treatment. For best results, use for at least four weeks. Devil’s claw root combines well with celery seed, bogbean, and meadowsweet in the treatment of arthritis.
Devil’s claw benefits for healing and well-being may seem remarkable. They are merely one example of the healing power of nature. While there are no known side effects of taking this herb, to be safe do not take without consulting a professional, especially if on any type of medication or if taking other herbs. Avoid while pregnant or nursing, or if stomach ulcers are already present.
Hoffmann, David. “The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies.” (Element Books, 1996).
“Devil’s Claw.” (University of Maryland Medical Center) <https://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/devils-claw-000237.htm
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