Home Medicinal Plants Devil’s Claw: Effect and Application

Devil’s Claw: Effect and Application

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 383 views

Devil ‘s claw is said to help with indigestion and mild joint pain. It is used either internally or externally – for example as a tea or ointment. However, scientific evidence of its effectiveness is still scarce. Read more about the effects of devil’s claw and the correct application!

What effect does devil’s claw have?

The tuberous, dried storage roots of the African devil’s claw contain bitter substances (iridoid glycosides, including harpagoside as the main component), phenylethanol derivatives and secondary plant substances such as flavonoids. The ingredients have an anti-inflammatory, slightly analgesic, appetite-stimulating and bile flow promoting effect.

Devil’s claw is classified as a traditional herbal medicine. The application is medically recognized due to many years of experience with:

  • loss of appetite
  • Stomach symptoms such as upper abdominal pain, mild pain, flatulence, feeling of fullness, heartburn, nausea and vomiting
  • wear-related (degenerative) diseases of the musculoskeletal system such as arthrosis and back pain

In Europe, devil’s claw is popularly used in people for other ailments and diseases, such as

  • Arthritis
  • metabolic diseases
  • allergies
  • bile problems
  • liver problems
  • Bladder and kidney problems

In Africa, people traditionally use the medicinal plant for fever, blood diseases and to relieve birth pains. The effectiveness in these areas has also not yet been scientifically proven.

What side effects can devil’s claw cause?

When used as directed, the medicinal plant is generally well tolerated. Possible devil’s claw side effects are diarrhea and, more rarely, gastrointestinal complaints at higher doses.

Headaches, drowsiness and allergic skin reactions are also rare. Very rarely, hypersensitivity reactions extend to anaphylactic shock.

However, those who suffer from certain diseases can experience increased side effects from devil’s claw. This includes:

  • Diabetes : Devil’s claw may lower blood sugar levels and interfere with diabetes medications.
  • Gallstones : The formation of gallstones may be increased by devil’s claw. People who already suffer from it should also be particularly careful.
  • Heart Health: Devil’s Claw has an effect on heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Stomach : Devil’s claw may cause stomach acid to build up, causing an ulcer.

Therefore, always discuss the use of devil’s claw with a doctor and do not take preparations with it on suspicion.

How is devil’s claw used?

Whether as a home remedy or ready-made preparations: There are various ways to take devil’s claw.

Devil’s claw as a home remedy

You can prepare a tea from the dried, cut or powdered devil’s claw root:

For arthrosis or back pain, pour 300 milliliters of boiling water over 4.5 grams of the medicinal drug , leave the whole thing at room temperature for eight hours (!) and then strain off the plant parts. Drink this devil’s claw tea in three portions throughout the day.

For digestive problems, prepare the tea from 1.5 grams of devil’s claw root and drink it in three portions throughout the day – always after meals. To stimulate your appetite, you should drink the tea half an hour before meals.

Home remedies have their limits. If the symptoms persist over a longer period of time, do not get better or even get worse despite treatment, you should always consult a doctor.

Prepared preparations with devil’s claw

Ready-made preparations are also available. For example, devil’s claw capsules, dragees, tablets and drops for internal use as well as balsam, creams and gel with devil’s claw for external use – for example against osteoarthritis. There are also ointments that help with muscle tension.

The respective leaflet informs you about the correct dosage and duration of use of the preparations with devil’s claw. You can also ask your doctor or pharmacist about this.

What you should consider when using devil’s claw

  • In the case of gallbladder problems, stomach or heart problems and diabetes, you should only use the medicinal plant after consulting a doctor.
  • In the case of young people under the age of 18, there is not yet sufficient knowledge of the application.
  • In the case of joint arthrosis (osteoarthrosis), it is recommended to use devil’s claw under medical supervision for at least two to three months.

The devil’s claw must not be used in the following cases:

  • Stomach or duodenal ulcer
  • pregnancy
  • lactation
  • Children under 12 years old
  • Hypersensitivity (allergy) to devil’s claw

Devil’s Claw can also interact with other medications. This includes:

  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs containing ibuprofen, celecoxib or feldene, which are taken to relieve pain
  • blood thinner
  • Drugs designed to reduce stomach acid

How to get Devil’s Claw products

You can get dried devil’s claw root and ready-made preparations based on the medicinal plant in your pharmacy and drugstore. To ensure quality with the necessary active ingredient content, you should preferably use preparations available in pharmacies.

Before use, please read the respective package leaflet and ask your doctor or pharmacist.

What is devil’s claw?

The African devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) is native to southern Africa. The perennial, decumbent, herbaceous plant inhabits sandy steppe regions and sparse areas of tree savannah.

In order to survive the extreme dry seasons in these areas, the plant parts above the ground die off. What remains is the deep-seated and widely branched root system, consisting of a thick root and a number of side roots. They serve as storage for water and nutrients.

Capsule fruits with several arm-like outgrowths develop from the red-violet flowers, which are up to six centimeters in size. After the fruits burst open, they spread like claws and become very woody. The Latin (Greek “harpagos” = grappling hook) and German generic name (devil’s claw) of the plant are derived from these peculiar fruits.

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