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Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum)

Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum)

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


Devil's claw is a 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.

Some people apply devil's claw to the skin for injuries and other skin conditions.

How does it work?

Devil's claw contains chemicals that might decrease inflammation and swelling and resulting pain.

Traditionally used for

Back pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Upset stomach.
Loss of appetite.
High cholesterol.
Muscle pain.
Migraine headache.
Skin injuries and conditions.


For osteoarthritis: A specific powdered devil's claw root product (Harpadol, Arkopharm) dosed at 2.6 grams/day. This dose provides a total of 57 mg of harpagoside, one of the active ingredients, and 87 mg of total iridoid glycosides, another active ingredient. Another specific devil's claw extract (Doloteffin, Ardeypharm) dosed at 2400 mg/day has also been used.

For back pain: A specific devil's claw extract (Doloteffin, Ardeypharm) that provides 50-100 mg of the active ingredient harpagoside daily.

Possible Side Effects

Devil's claw is SAFE for most adults when taken by mouth in appropriate doses for up to a year. The most common side effect is diarrhea. About 8% of the people participating in one research study developed diarrhea.

Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Devil's claw is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. It might harm the developing fetus. Avoid use in pregnancy. It is also best to avoid using devil's claw while breast-feeding. Not enough is known yet about its safety during breast-feeding.

Heart problems, high blood pressure, low blood pressure: Since devil's claw can affect heart rate, heartbeat, and blood pressure, it might harm people with disorders of the heart and circulatory system. If you have one of these conditions, talk with your healthcare provider before starting devil's claw.

Diabetes: Devil's claw might lower blood sugar levels. Using it along with medications that lower blood sugar might cause blood sugar to drop too low. Monitor blood glucose levels closely. Your healthcare provider might need to adjust your dose of diabetes medications.

Gallstones: Devil's claw might increase bile production. This could be a problem for people with gallstones. Avoid using devil's claw.

Peptic ulcer disease (PUD): Since devil's claw might increase the production of stomach acids, it might harm people with stomach ulcers. Avoid using devil's claw.

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