Medically reviewed: June 7, 2018
What is Devil's Claw?
Devil's claw grows in the Kalahari Desert and Namibian steppes of southwest Africa. The plant is a weedy perennial whose fruits have small, claw-like protrusions. It has a strong central taproot growing up to 2 m deep, with secondary roots that are used in decoctions and teas. The plant has large and grey-green leaves, and produces pink, red, or purple, trumpet-shaped flowers.
Devil's claw is also known as grapple plant, grapple vine, Radix Harpagophyti, wood spider, xwate.
What is it used for?
Devil's claw has been used among native people of South Africa as a folk remedy for diseases ranging from liver and kidney disorders to allergies, headaches, and, most commonly, rheumatism. Devil's claw was reportedly introduced to Europe by a German soldier in the mid-1900s, and thereafter its popularity increased among British, Canadian, and European herbalists.
Devil's claw is marketed in Canada and Europe as a home remedy for the relief of arthritis. Clinical trials generally support its use as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic in low back pain and osteoarthritis.
What is the recommended dosage?
Devil's claw has been studied for low back pain, muscle pain, and osteoarthritis using daily doses of crude root up to 9 g, 1 to 3 g of extract, or harpagoside 50 to 100 mg.
Because of the bitterness of the preparation, which increases stomach secretion, devil's claw should be avoided in patients with stomach or duodenal ulcers.
Documented adverse effects on the uterus. Avoid use.
None well documented.
Rare, generally consisting of headache, ringing of the ears, or loss of appetite.
Clinically important toxicity has not been observed in limited, short-term use.
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