Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens)
Devil’s claw has become a primary treatment for arthritis and rheumatism. Secondarily, it is often used to treat gastrointestinal problems.
What is Devil’s Claw?
Devil’s claw is a 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.
Historical Properties & Uses
Devil’s claw has become a primary treatment for arthritis and rheumatism. Secondarily, it is often used to treat gastrointestinal problems, much in same manner our Western bitters are used. Originally from Namibia, use of the plant has made its way to America via the British isles. It is generally regarded as both safe and effective, and works mainly as an anti-inflammatory agent. In Africa, actually in the Kalahari Desert and Namibian steppes, the root is used as a treatment for indigestion, blood diseases, fever, pain and pregnancy-related problems.
More recent studies have found devil’s claw preparations are generally well suited for the treatment of chronic rheumatism, arthritis, gout, spondylosis induced lower back pain, neuralgia, headaches, and lumbago. One study found its anti-inflammatory effects equaled those of pyrazolone derivatives and the commonly prescribed anti-arthritic phenylbutazone. Analgesic effects of a subjective nature are reported, but objective tests are ambiguous on this point. Relief of pain is probably a side benefit of reduced inflammation. Improved mobility in the joints is often reported, as well as improved feeling of well-being.
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