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General Information

Common Name:

Devil's Claw

Latin Name:

Harpagophytum procumbens

Family:

Pedaliaceae
Other Names:

Grapple plant

wood spider

Indications & Historical Uses

This medicinal tuber derives its unique name from the menacingly barbed, claw-shaped fruit which has been known to trap and harm livestock grazing nearby. It was originally used by natives of the Kalahari Desert and Namibian steppes as a treatment for indigestion and a myriad of other gastrointestinal disorders.

Main indication is in arthritis, gout, rheumatism and lower back pain due to spondylosis.

Devils Claw has strong anti inflammatory properties and is therefore very helpful for people with arthritis and inflammatory diseases.

The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia does recognize Devils Claw as having anti- inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, analgesic, sedative and diuretic properties. Devils Claw has also proven to be effective in treating complaints such as dyspepsia and conditions relating to the proper functioning of bile salts, the gall bladder and the entero-hepatic circulation .

Contraindications & Precautions

Contraindications:
Devils Claw should not be taken during pregnancy, as it has been known to stimulate uterine muscle.

Also contraindicated in anyone with gastric or duodenal ulcers.

Precautions:
See Caution.

Adverse Effects:
None known at present. Devils Claw has extemely low toxicity.

Drug Interactions:
None known at present.

Dosage Information

Dosage:

100mg per day of 5% standardized extract.
Pharmacology

The tuber, or root , of the Devil's Claw plant contains a trio of bitter-tasting iridoid glyocsides and beta-sitosterol which endow the plant with its biological activity on the immune system, the gastrointestinal tract , ,the micturition reflex, and the sensations of pain and anxiety.

These compounds increase the mobility of and increase the secretions into the gastrointestinal tract and they modify the immune system such that production of prostaglandins is reduced.

Two components of the plant, harpogoside and beta-sitosterol ,have anti inflammatory properties. However whole devil's claw was found to be superior to just isolated harpogoside.

Various studies have shown it to be more effective than aspirin, indomethacin, and other synthetic and semi-synthetic anti-inflammatories, and it is now known to be 6000 times more effective than western bitters (e.g. gentian bitters) in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders.

However , the active components of devil's claw are very labile and mass-produced tablets often contain harpagoside in the absence of other irido glycosides or beta-sitosterol , thus rendering them biologically inactive and ineffective.

Active Ingredients:

Iridoid glycosides (Harpagoside, harpagide and procumbine), sugars, gum resin and beta-sitosterol. They are extracted from the tuber [underground stems] and roots of the plant.

Enhancing Agents:

Gluc osamine.

Chondroitin Sulphate.

Circuma Longa.

Origin

Devils claw is found in Africa, particularly South Africa. Devil's Claw is a South African plant and derives its unique name from the plant's peculiar fruits which seem to be covered with miniature claw-like hooks, which have been known to trap and harm livestock grazing nearby. It was originally used by natives of the Kalahari Desert and Namibian steppes as a treatment for indigestion and a myriad of other gastrointestinal disorders.

Processing

Processing is by aqueous extract from the tuber and roots of the plant. Standard amount of the active ingredient should be 5% harpagosides, whole plant material.

Scientific References

Mowrey, D. (1990) Guaranteed Potency Herbs. A Compilation of writings on the subject

Mowrey, D. (1986) The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine. Cormorant Books

R. Jaspersan-Schib: Deutsche Apotheker Zieting 130:71-73, 1990.

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