Devil’s Claw

Devil’s Claw Root

Other Names: Harpagophyti radix

Composition: Devil’s Claw consists of dried tubers that contain bitter substances.

Description and History: This African herb is named for the claw like shape of its root. It is traditionally used for pregnancy and birth, as well as arthritis. It is one of the best blood purifiers known to herbalism. Studies show it can be more beneficial to arthritis sufferers than many conventional drugs. It has also been useful for back pain, for similar reasons. One recent trial showed great benefit when used over the course of 8 weeks.

Cross-Reference List: Aging

Back Pain: Participants for this study had regular back pain for over 6 months. Measurements were evaluated objectively throughout the 8 week trial, for which 130 patients qualified. The devil's claw participants were treated 2x day at 480mg each, and significant reductions in back pain occurred without any side effects. (Laudahn & Walper 2001). 

Osteoarthritis: Devil’s claw is also an effective treatment for arthritis, with a standardized treatment (50mg harpagoside) administered for 12 weeks reducing pain scores by an average of 25% of individuals in one study (Wegener, 2003).

Contraindications: Should not be used for those with these conditions: ulcers, gallstones, pregnancy, diabetes, or hypertension.

Interactions: Devil’s Claw could potentially increase the risk of bleeding for individuals who are taking blood thinners by reducing the efficacy of those medications. 

Preparations: Capsules are the most common way of taking Devil’s claw as internal use is the most effective application. Tablets and other commercial preparations are also used. It can be prepared in a syrup or culinary preparation but must be taken for extended periods of time to achieve efficacy so the preparation should be on suitable for long term use. It is not used topically.  

Dose: Total daily dose is 500mg, which can be divided into 2-3 total doses for convenience for an otherwise healthy adult. Safe doses for children have not been established scientifically. 

Dig Deeper

Laudahn, D., & Walper, A. (2001). Efficacy and tolerance of Harpagophytum extract LI 174 in patients with chronic non‐radicular back pain. Phytotherapy research, 15(7), 621-624.   

Wegener, T., & Lüpke, N. P. (2003). Treatment of patients with arthrosis of hip or knee with an aqueous extract of devil's claw (Harpagophytum procumbens DC.). Phytotherapy Research, 17(10), 1165-1172.

Meet Dr Hawkins

Dr. Hawkins brings 20 years of expertise in the integrative health field to her role as Executive Director of the Franklin School of Integrative Health Sciences and the leader of our clinical research team.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Health from Union Institute and University, a Master’s Degree in Health Education & Promotion from the University of Alabama, a post-graduate certificate in epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, a PhD in Health Research from Middle Tennessee State University, and is completing the post-doctoral Global Scholars Research Training Program at Harvard Medical School. She also holds certifications in numerous natural health fields including aromatherapy, aromatic medicine, herbalism, childbirth education, and labor support.