Devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) is a plant native to the Kalahari Desert in Southern African countries like Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Madagascar, and Namibia.
For so many years, it has been used in traditional African medicine for the treatment of health issues such as back and joint pain, arthritis, kidney and bladder issues, indigestion, skin problems, and liver disorders. In addition, devil’s claw has the ability to treat osteoporosis, lack of appetite, gout, Lyme disease, allergies, fibromyalgia, nerve pain, sciatica.
Health Benefits of Devil’s Claw
Let’s talk about the amazing health benefits devil’s claw may offer.
Combats Chronic Inflammation
Devil’s claw is beneficial due to its ability to help lower inflammation, which is the reason for most diseases that people suffer from. According to some studies, devil’s claw can help to prevent tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), a cytokine that is linked with the normal inflammation that happens in the body as it can regulate the immune system.
This is essential because when TNF-alpha is overactivated, it can lead to chronic inflammation and a wide range of diseases. In fact, the prevention of TNF-alpha is very significant in the prevention of inflammatory diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), rheumatism, psoriasis, and arthritis.
Beneficial for Osteoarthritis
While scientific trials on the use of devil’s claw for osteoarthritis are insufficient, some studies suggest that the herb may be effective for treating the condition. It is believed that devil’s claw is as effective as anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs like diacerhein for relieving pain and improving mobility.
Rich in Antioxidants
One major way devil’s claw can help inhibit diseases is through the many antioxidants it contains. According to studies, devil’s claw is very rich in water-soluble antioxidants. In fact, some studies indicate that some of the anti-inflammatory effects of devil’s claw may actually be because of these antioxidants.
Provides Relief for Arthritis
The use of devil’s claw has been extensively researched to discover its benefits and ability to reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis. According to a study, devil’s claw, especially the harpagoside compound, can lead to a significant reduction in arthritic inflammation.
In fact, generally, devil’s claw is considered by many medical professionals as an effective treatment for degenerative, painful rheumatism diseases such as osteoarthritis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, and ankylosing spondylitis. All of these rheumatic disorders are characterized by chronic inflammation and often times, muscle, joints, and fibrous tissue pain.
When used for managing rheumatic disorders, devil’s claw appears to significantly reduce pain in the wrist, hand, elbow, back, shoulder, hip, and knee. In addition, it helps rheumatic patients to reduce or stop taking their other conventional pain medications. According to some studies, devil’s claw can also provide relief for various types of osteoarthritis pain. The extract of the herb may be very helpful in the treatment of arthritis, particularly of the hip or knee.
In fact, a study carried out to determine the efficacy of supplements that comprise of turmeric, bromelain, and devil’s claw on rheumatic pain showed amazing results. The results showed that devil’s claw can cause a reduction in pain, especially severe joint pain. Interestingly, results also showed that these herbs, when used together, had no side effects or withdrawal problems. Devil’s claw is believed to be a safe option to NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for people suffering from degenerative joint disorders such as osteoarthritis.
Apart from pain reduction, devil’s claw also helps arthritis sufferers by prohibiting bone loss. As a matter of fact, test results suggest that devil’s claw prevents bone loss in inflammatory osteoporosis. Unfortunately, these results show conflicting results when it comes to osteoarthritis caused by hormones.
Aids in Digestion
Like it was mentioned above, the benefits of devil’s claw include the prevention of TNF-alpha, which is a treatment used for inflammatory bowel disease. It is important to remember that inflammation plays a huge role in digestion. In addition, the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory abilities of devil’s claw may be effective as a supplementary treatment for inflammatory and digestive diseases, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Reduces Back Pain
Several studies have shown that the use of herbs can be effective in treating lower back pain. Luckily, herbs like devil’s claw can significantly reduce pain and reduce the use of conventional medication for the condition.
Supports Kidney Health
One other area that is yet to be fully-studied is devil’s claw benefits in regards to treating a group of kidney diseases referred to as glomerular diseases. These ailments are inflammation-related and are diseases that cause injuries to the kidney’s tiny filters that clean the blood.
Due to its antioxidants abilities, the extract of devil’s claw can help to reduce the formation of nitrites. Studies suggest that the extracts may act like anti-inflammatory drugs in the treatment of glomerular inflammatory diseases.
Supports Weight Loss
Interestingly, an anti-inflammatory herb like devil’s claw may also aid in weight loss. A study conducted found devil’s claw can help to stop or slow the production of a “hunger hormone” known as ghrelin. By reducing food cravings, the urge for overeating may reduce as well, aiding weight loss.
One other way devil’s claw may help people with obesity is by helping to prevent weight-related issues like the hardening of the arteries by suppressing inflammation.
Possibly Treats Lymphoma
While the studies on this benefit are still in their infancy, it is believed that devil’s claw may be helpful for treating follicular lymphoma.
In treating cancer, devil’s claw can stimulate a partial regression of lymphoma after some months without chemotherapy. In some studies, people with lymphoma can enjoy spontaneous regression of their cancer. However, it is advisable to take precautions as there is no solid scientific evidence that devil’s claw can prevent or cure cancer. It is important to remember that more studies still need to be done on the benefits of devil’s claw in the treatment of cancer for follicular lymphoma.
Side Effects of Devil’s Claw
Devil’s claw is generally considered safe. However, as with any herbal supplement, the safety of its use isn’t fully guaranteed and may cause some health problems.
- There have been several reports of gastrointestinal bleeding linked to the use of devil’s claw. According to some studies, the other gastrointestinal side effects include stomach upset and abdominal pain.
- People with ulcers, GERD, and other related conditions that affect the upper gastrointestinal tract should not use devil’s claw.
- Since devil’s claw has been linked to some gastrointestinal disorders, it may interact with many drugs. This is why users should exercise caution and check with a medical doctor before taking the herb.
- Devil’s claw can result in headaches, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), high blood pressure, and allergic reactions.
- Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and children are advised to steer clear of devil’s claw. The herb is believed to induce uterine contractions and cause miscarriage.
Devil’s claw has proven to be beneficial in treating chronic pain. People living with pain can find the herb helpful. While there isn’t enough evidence from studies to show that it is safe and effective for managing chronic pain, it is worth a try.
If you’re considering trying devil’s claw, be sure to consult with your doctor to weigh the benefits and side effects and determine whether it is safe for you.