Devil's Claw

What other names is Devil's Claw known by?

Devils Claw, Devil's Claw Root, Garra del Diablo, Grapple Plant, Griffe du Diable, Harpagophyti Radix, Harpagophytum, Harpagophytum procumbens, Harpagophytum zeyheri, Racine de Griffe du Diable, Racine de Windhoek, Teufelskrallenwurzel, Uncaria procumbens, Wood Spider.

What is Devil's Claw?

Devil's claw is an 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.

Is Devil's Claw effective?

There is some scientific evidence that devil's claw might help to decrease pain in people who have a kind of arthritis called osteoarthritis.

There isn't enough information to know if devil's claw is effective for the other conditions people use it for, including: upset stomach, loss of appetite, high cholesterol, gout, muscle pain, skin injuries and conditions, and many others.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Back pain. Taking devil's claw by mouth seems to reduce low-back pain. Devil's claw seems to work about as well as some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • Osteoarthritis. Taking devil's claw alone or along with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) seems to help decrease osteoarthritis-related pain. Some evidence suggests that devil's claw works about as well as diacerhein (a slow-acting drug for osteoarthritis that is not available in the U.S.) for improving osteoarthritis pain in the hip and knee after 16 weeks of treatment. Some people taking devil's claw seem to be able to lower the dose of NSAIDs they need for pain relief. This evidence comes from a study that used a specific powdered devil's claw root product (Harpadol, Arkopharma) containing 2% of the devil's claw ingredient harpagoside (9.5 mg/capsule) and 3% total iridoid glycosides (14.5 mg per capsule). Another specific devil's claw extract (Doloteffin, Ardeypharm) 2400 mg/day providing 60 mg/day of the harpagoside ingredient has also been used.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

More evidence is needed to rate devil's claw for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


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