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Harpagophytum procumbens

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.

Our evidence-based analysis on harpagophytum procumbens features 39 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of Harpagophytum procumbens

Primary information, health benefits, side effects, usage, and other important details

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.

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How to Take

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

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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Human Effect Matrix

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The Human Effect Matrix summarizes human studies to tell you what effects Harpagophytum procumbens has on your body, how much evidence there is, and how strong these effects are.

Full details are available to Examine members.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
grade-c Minor - See study
A decrease in back pain has been noted (with a greater frequency of pain abolishment than placebo) which needs to be replicated
grade-d Minor Very High See all 3 studies
Symptoms of osteoarthritis appear to be reduced following ingestion of devil's claw, but insufficient robust evidence exists

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Things to Note

Primary Function:

Also Known As

Devil's Claw, Grapple plant, Duiwelsklou, Wood Spider

Do Not Confuse With

Cat's Claw (Uncaria Tomentosa)

Caution Notice

  • May induce uterine contractions, and contraindicted for usage during pregnancy

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Click here to see all 39 references.