Devil's Claw

Last Updated: September 28 2022

Harpagophytum Procumbens (Devil's Claw) is a tuber that has traditional usage for musculoskeletal disorders, pain relief, and appetite stimulation; it appears to have preliminary evidence for its benefits to osteoarthritis and pain.

Devil's Claw is most often used for


Harpagophytum Procumbens (commonly called Devil's Claw) is a tuber vegetable that is used for combatting lower back pain as well as arthritis (both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis). It appears to have efficacy at this, and may take a few months to reach maximal efficacy (so it would be unlikely something like Aspirin, which acts fairly fast).

Human trials have been conducted on Devil's Claw and arthritis, and although there appear to be a large amount of trials conducted on it many are not sourced online or in Medline (instead mentioned vicariously through systemic reviews and meta-analysis' on the subject) and the power of these trials are limited, due to sample sizes and lack of control for the most part. That being said, at least two well controlled trials note that the efficacy of Devil's Claw is greater than placebo with one saying it is of similar potency to Vioxx (Rofecoxib, a COX2 inhibitor and antiinflammatory).

Not too much research into other effects of Devil's Claw, although one study suggests it has remarkable anticholesterase inhibitory potential with the potency on butrylcholinesterase (a cholinesterase enzyme found in the blood and liver) being greater than Galantamine.

There appears to be much discussion on safety of Devil's Claw, which may have stemmed from traditional users of Devil's Claw warning about excessive usage. In short term trials it appears to be well tolerated, with a lack of long term evidence. It is definitely possible that it may induce uterine contractions when taken orally, and due to this it should not be used by pregnant women.

What else is Devil's Claw known as?
Note that Devil's Claw is also known as:
  • Grapple Plant
  • Duiwelsklou
  • Wood Spider
  • Harpagophytum Procumbens
Devil's Claw should not be confused with:
Dosage information

Studies conducted on humans using Devil's Claw tend to use a brand called Doloteffin, where 6,000mg of Devil's Claw root is taken daily which totals 50mg Harpagoside (tends to be used as an indicator of efficacy). It was taken in three divided doses, with 2,000mg taken at each of the three major meals.

Benefits of Devil's Claw extract, as it pertains to arthritis and inflammation, may take upwards of 1-4 months to achieve maximal efficacy.

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1.^Akhtar N, Haqqi TMCurrent nutraceuticals in the management of osteoarthritis: a reviewTher Adv Musculoskelet Dis.(2012 Jun)
2.^Qi J, Chen JJ, Cheng ZH, Zhou JH, Yu BY, Qiu SXIridoid glycosides from Harpagophytum procumbens D.C. (devil's claw)Phytochemistry.(2006 Jul)
3.^Mncwangi N, Chen W, Vermaak I, Viljoen AM, Gericke NDevil's Claw-a review of the ethnobotany, phytochemistry and biological activity of Harpagophytum procumbensJ Ethnopharmacol.(2012 Oct 11)
13.^Georgiev M, Ludwig-Müller J, Weber J, Stancheva N, Bley TBioactive metabolite production and stress-related hormones in Devil's claw cell suspension cultures grown in bioreactorsAppl Microbiol Biotechnol.(2011 Mar)
16.^Homova V, Weber J, Schulze J, Alipieva K, Bley T, Georgiev MDevil's claw hairy root culture in flasks and in a 3-L bioreactor: bioactive metabolite accumulation and flow cytometryZ Naturforsch C.(2010 Jul-Aug)
23.^Uchida S, Hirai K, Hatanaka J, Hanato J, Umegaki K, Yamada SAntinociceptive effects of St. John's wort, Harpagophytum procumbens extract and Grape seed proanthocyanidins extract in miceBiol Pharm Bull.(2008 Feb)
26.^Huang TH, Tran VH, Duke RK, Tan S, Chrubasik S, Roufogalis BD, Duke CCHarpagoside suppresses lipopolysaccharide-induced iNOS and COX-2 expression through inhibition of NF-kappa B activationJ Ethnopharmacol.(2006 Mar 8)
29.^Chrubasik JE, Lindhorst E, Neumann E, Gerlach U, Faller-Marquardt M, Torda T, Müller-Ladner U, Chrubasik SPotential molecular basis of the chondroprotective effect of Harpagophytum procumbensPhytomedicine.(2006 Sep)
30.^Andersen ML, Santos EH, Seabra Mde L, da Silva AA, Tufik SEvaluation of acute and chronic treatments with Harpagophytum procumbens on Freund's adjuvant-induced arthritis in ratsJ Ethnopharmacol.(2004 Apr)
33.^Gagnier JJ, van Tulder MW, Berman B, Bombardier CHerbal medicine for low back pain: a Cochrane reviewSpine (Phila Pa 1976).(2007 Jan 1)
34.^Brendler T, Gruenwald J, Ulbricht C, Basch E; Natural Standard Research CollaborationDevil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens DC): an evidence-based systematic review by the Natural Standard Research CollaborationJ Herb Pharmacother.(2006)
36.^Chrubasik S, Model A, Black A, Pollak SA randomized double-blind pilot study comparing Doloteffin and Vioxx in the treatment of low back painRheumatology (Oxford).(2003 Jan)
37.^Chrubasik S, Künzel O, Thanner J, Conradt C, Black AA 1-year follow-up after a pilot study with Doloteffin for low back painPhytomedicine.(2005 Jan)