The amazing benefits of Devil’s Claw Extract:
What is Devil’s claw?
Native to southern Africa, devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) gets its name from the tiny hooks that cover its fruit. Historically, devil’s claw has been used to treat pain, liver and kidney problems, fever, and malaria. It has also been used in ointments to heal sores, boils, and other skin problems.
Devil’s claw was introduced to Europe in the early 1900s, where the dried roots have been used to restore appetite, relieve heartburn, and reduce pain and inflammation.
Devil’s claw does not have an odor, but it contains substances that make it taste bitter. It is a leafy perennial with branching roots and shoots. It has secondary roots, called tubers, that grow out of the main roots. The roots and tubers are used as medicine.
What Are the Benefits of Devil’s Claw?
Like many natural products, people may use devil’s claw for various reasons. But several studies assess devil’s claw for its potential uses.
- May Relieve Back Pain
Devil’s claw was as effective as NSAIDs at relieving low low-back pain.
Results from another systematic review suggest that devil’s claw may reduce low back pain better than a placebo (a substance with no medicine). But further research with higher-quality clinical trials is still warranted.
- May Improve Osteoarthritis
Devil’s claw—alone or combined with other medicines—may relieve osteoarthritis (also known as wear-and-tear arthritis) pain. Devil’s claw might help some people take lower doses of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Advil (ibuprofen).
A systematic review (review of a collection of studies) included examples of how people with osteoarthritis may have benefited from devil’s claw. But longer-term studies are still necessary to better evaluate the effectiveness and safety of devil’s claw.
- May Reduce Inflammation
Research suggests that compounds found in devil’s claw, including flavonoids and phytosterols, may offer anti-inflammatory health benefits. Some studies demonstrate antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anticancer effects, though more research is needed.
Devil’s claw shows promise in treating inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes.
- May Reduce Appetite
There’s some evidence from animal studies that devil’s claw can help to suppress appetite by acting on receptors for a specific stomach peptide, a hormone called ghrelin.
Yet while some researchers focus on its possible uses in treating obesity, keep in mind that devil’s claw also has been used to stimulate appetite in people diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.
Medicinal Uses and Indications
Several studies show that taking devil’s claw for 8 to 12 weeks can reduce pain and improve physical functioning in people with osteoarthritis. One 4-month study of 122 people with knee and hip osteoarthritis compared devil’s claw and a leading European medication for pain relief. The people who took devil’s claw had as much pain relief as the people who took the medication. Those who took devil’s claw had fewer side effects and needed fewer pain relievers throughout the study.
An analysis of 14 studies using devil’s claw to treat arthritis found that higher quality studies showed devil’s claw may relieve joint pain. And a review of 12 studies using devil’s claw for treating arthritis or low back pain found that devil’s claw was at least moderately effective for arthritis of the spine, hip, and knee.
- Back and neck pain
Preliminary evidence suggests that devil’s claw may help relieve neck and low back pain. In a small study of 63 people with mild-to-moderate back, neck, or shoulder pain, taking a standardized extract of devil’s claw for 4 weeks provided moderate relief from muscle pain. In a larger study of 197 men and women with chronic low back pain, those who took devil’s claw every day for a month said they had less pain and needed fewer painkillers than those who took placebo.
A 54-week study compared 38 people who took devil’s claw with 35 people who took the pain reliever rofecoxib (Vioxx). For these people, devil’s claw worked as well as Vioxx to relieve pain. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took Vioxx off the market because it increases the risk of heart problems.
Many professional herbalists suggest that devil’s claw can help treat upset stomach, loss of appetite, headaches, allergies, and fever. Topical preparations of devil’s claw are also applied to the skin to heal sores, ulcers, boils, and skin lesions. However, there are not any definitive scientific studies that show using devil’s claw to treat these conditions is effective.
What is it Made of?
Devil’s claw contains iridoid glycosides, components believed to have strong anti-inflammatory effects. It has a high concentration of one type of iridoid, called harpagoside, and some laboratory tests suggest it may relieve pain and inflammation.
Dried or fresh root of devil’s claw can be found in capsules, tablets, liquid extracts, and topical ointments. Teas (infusions) can also be made from dried devil’s claw root.