Devil’s claw is an herb. The botanical name, Harpagophytum, means “hook plant” in Greek. This plant, which is native to Africa, gets its name from the appearance of its fruit, which is covered with hooks meant to attach onto animals in order to spread the seeds. The roots and tubers of the plant are used to make medicine.
Devil’s claw is used for “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), Arthritis, gout, muscle pain (myalgia), back pain, tendonitis, chest pain, gastrointestinal (GI) upset or heart burn, fever, and migraine headache. It is also used for difficulties in childbirth, menstrual problems, allergic reactions, loss of appetite, and kidney and bladder disease.
Devil’s claw has been used for thousands of years for fever, rheumatoid Arthritis, skin conditions, and conditions involving the gallbladder, pancreas, stomach and kidneys.
In the early 1900’s, devil’s claw was brought to Europe. It is used to improve digestion, as the bitter taste of devil’s claw tea is thought to stimulate digestive juices.
However, the primary use of devil’s claw today is for conditions that cause inflammation and pain:
Devil’s claw is approved as a nonprescription medicine in Germany and is used to relieve Arthritis, lower back, knee and hip pain. It is also used to treat a number of ailments including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid Arthritis, gout, bursitis, tendonitis, loss of appetite and digestive disorders.
Great news for pain sufferers who have grown dependent on pain killers for relief: recently published double blind studies have shown that Devil’s Claw can relieve pain from Arthritis in as little as ten days of use, lower back, knee and hip pain included. It is also used to treat osteoarthritis, rheumatoid Arthritis, gout, bursitis, tendonitis and soft tissue pain (muscle aches).
Since studies have shown no side effects, even at very high doses, Devil’s claw can be an alternative for those taking over-the-counter pain medications such as Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen, which can cause liver and stomach problems. Devil’s claw can be a healthier approach to treating joint pain.
Despite being used in ancient Persian medicine, Devil’s Claw has only been a popular anti-inflammatory and Arthritis treatment since it was first discovered in South Africa by European colonists in the 18th century. It is still quite common in Europe today but is not well known in the U.S. This is another example of ancient wisdom finding its way to the forefront.