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Devil's claw: uses, dosage & background

Siski Green / 22 April 2020

Devil's claw, named afer its peculiar claw-like hooks that cover its fruits, has been used to treat muscular pain for centuries.

Devil's Claw
Devil's Claw is used for arthritic conditions such as joint inflammation, arthritis, rheumatism, and back pain

Devil’s claw gets its name from its fruit which is covered in hooks, making it more likely to attach to passing animals and have its seeds dispersed. These hooks also give it its other name, 'grapple plant,' and its scientofic name Harpagophytum, or 'hook plant'. For medicinal purposes, however, the roots and tubers of the plants are used.

What is devil’s claw used for?

Most commonly devil’s claw is used for pain relief relating to muscles and joints.

What’s the history of devil’s claw?

Devil’s claw has been used for centuries in herbal remedies in Africa, which is where the plant comes from. The roots of the plant have been used by people of the Kalahari Desert for use in helping to relieve muscular aches and pains, as well as back ache. They have also used it for treating pain in general, and digestive disorders.

What’s the best way to take devil’s claw?

Some products contain devil’s claw, but typical dosage used in studies consists of 750mg three times a day.

Does devil’s claw really work?

There is research that suggests that devil’s claw may be effective in reducing muscle aches and pains, but to date there haven’t been enough large-scale well-designed studies to show more than marginal benefits from taking it.

Of the small-scale studies that have been undertaken it seems devil’s claw may help reduce arthritis pain, improve mobility and reduce need for other pain relief.

There is insufficient evidence to say whether or not devil’s claw can be used effectively to treat rheumatoid arthritis, gout or high cholesterol.

Devil’s claw, however, has been shown to contain iridoid glycosides and these are known to provide anti-inflammatory effects. For this reason, it could be that devil’s claw could help prevent inflammation-related diseases such as heart disease, arthritis and others.

Where can I get devil’s claw?

Devil’s claw is often available as an ingredient within a product aimed at reducing muscle pain or arthritis-related symptoms. Some brands also provide devil’s claw on its own, 600mg of devil’s claw extract. You can find it in healthfood stores or online.

How long does devil’s claw take to work?

For study participants of the research projects involving devil’s claw, it took around four weeks for benefits to be felt.

What are the side effects of devil’s claw?

There don’t seem to be any negative side effects of taking devil’s claw. There have been some reports of mild gastrointestinal issues, however.

Are there any contraindications when taking devil’s claw?

If you are taking blood-thinning medications see your GP before taking devil’s claw as it may interact with your meds.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.