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Functional Nutrition Blog

Reduce Pain & Inflammation with Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens)

Posted by Daniel Sanelli, M.Sc. on Apr 7, 2017 8:00:00 AM

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Devil's Claw is indigenous to southern Africa where, for thousands of years, tribes prepared the herb as an internal remedy for migraine and gastrointestinal problems and to reduce fever. Salves were also prepared to heal skin conditions.

Today, Devil's Claw is a scientifically validated remedy for pain and inflammation associated with degenerative joint conditions and back pain, as well as arthritis-related pain, fibromyalgia, and headaches. A key compound called harpagoside inhibits chemicals in the body that create inflammation.

A key benefit of Devil's Claw is that it's safe and has few to no side effects for most people. Clinical trials have found Devil's Claw as effective as many prescription drugs. It has been found effective for relief of knee and hip pain associated with osteoarthritis - as much as a 35% improvement after eight weeks of treatment. Other studies have shown taking standardized extract of devil's claw provides moderate relief for mild-to-moderate back, neck, or shoulder muscle pain. In a study of chronic low back pain, men and women who took Devil's Claw every day for a month reported less pain and needed fewer painkillers than those who took a placebo (sugar pill).

Devil's Claw is available in tea and capsule form, as well as tincture and extract. Different forms are more suitable to different health concerns. Devil's Claw is not recommended during pregnancy as it may stimulate uterine contractions. Also, Devil's Claw can interact with other medications. It's important to talk with your personal physician before taking this herb.

 

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Sources

  • Alternative Medicine Review: "Devil's Claw: Monograph" (2008) 13:3 Accessed 4 Feb 2017: http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/13/3/248.pdf
  • Johnson, R.L., S. Foster, Low Dog, T. and Kiefer, D. National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs: The World's Most Effective Healing Plants. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2012. 189; 216-219.
  • Hoffmann, D. Medicinal Herbalism. The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. (2003) Rochester, Healing Art Press. http://vanveenorganics.com/ebooks/Medical%20Herbalism%20-%20D.%20Hoffmann%20(Healing%20Arts%20Press,%202003)%20WW.pdf
  • University of Maryland Complementary and Alternative Medicine Database. "Devil's Claw" Accessed 4 Feb 2017: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/devils-claw
  • Pizzorno, Joseph E., Textbook of Natural Medicine. (2013). St. Louis, MO Elsevier. (chapter 174), 1475-1485.
  • MedlinePlus.gov "Devil's Claw" Accessed 4 Feb 2017: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/984.html

Topics: herbs & botanicals, pain management

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