Devil's Claw

Plant Part Used

Tubers

Active Constituents

Iridoid glycosides, principally harpagoside, harpagide, and procumbide; also contains beta-sitosterol. (1) [span class=alert]

This section is a list of chemical entities identified in this dietary supplement to possess pharmacological activity. This list does not imply that other, yet unidentified, constituents do not influence the pharmacological activity of this dietary supplement nor does it imply that any one constituent possesses greater influence on the overall pharmacological effect of this dietary supplement.[/span]

Introduction

Historically, devil’s claw tuber has been used as an adjunct therapy for a variety of conditions related to the liver and kidneys. Traditionally it has also been used to treat lymph toxicity, diabetes, respiratory ailments and arthritic complaints. (2) Devil's claw reportedly helps with joint mobility and reduces pain and swelling. (3) , (4) The current use of devil’s claw focuses around its anti-inflammatory properties.

Interactions and Depletions

Interactions

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

100-200mg (standardized extract) daily.

Infusion: 3 times a day using 4.5 grams of herb to 300 ml water steeped 8 hours. (5)

Most Common Dosage

100mg (standardized extract), 2 times a day.

Infusion: 3 times a day using 4.5 grams of herb to 300 ml water steeped 8 hours.

Standardization

[span class=doc]Standardization represents the complete body of information and controls that serve to enhance the batch to batch consistency of a botanical product, including but not limited to the presence of a marker compound at a defined level or within a defined range.[/span]

The most current available medical and scientific literature indicates that this dietary supplement should be standardized to 5% harpagoside (iridoid glycoside) per dose.

Uses

Frequently Reported Uses

  • Rheumatism
  • Tendinitis
  • Indigestion
  • Dyspepsia
Other Reported Uses
  • Analgesic
  • Gout
  • Arthritis
  • Inflammation
  • Gallbladder Support
  • Kidney Support
  • Liver Support
  • Mild Diuretic

 

Toxicities & Precautions

General

Toxicity is extremely low and is not seen in recommended doses. (6)

Health Conditions

Contraindicated in gastric, peptic, or duodenal ulcers.

Based on pharmacology, use with caution in individuals with bleeding disorders other than those mentioned above.

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

Based on animal studies, devil’s claw should not be used in pregnancy or nursing due to stimulation of the uterine muscle. (7)

Age Limitations

Do not use in children under 2 years of age unless recommended by a physician.

Pharmacology

Clinical studies have supported that devil’s claw has anti-inflammatory activity, (8) , (9) , (10) although a report has demonstrated negative results. (11) The constituents, harpagoside and beta sitosterol, have been reported to have anti-inflammatory effects. (12) Experiments in laboratory animals have demonstrated the efficacy of devil’s claw in inflammation, with effects comparable to phenylbutazone. (13) A recent multicenter, randomized, double-blind, parallel-group study was conducted in 122 patients with hip and/or knee osteoarthritis was conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of devil’s claw as compared to the slow-acting drug for osteoarthritis, diacerhein. (14) After four months, considerable improvements in osteoarthritis symptoms were seen in both groups, with no significant differences for pain, functional disability, or the Lequesne score. However, use of analgesic (acetaminophen-caffeine) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (diclofenac) medications was significantly reduced in the devil’s claw group, which also had a significantly lower rate of adverse events. The authors concluded that devil’s claw was at least as effective as the reference drug (diacerhein) in the treatment of knee or hip osteoarthritis and reduced the need for analgesic and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory therapy. The results of a study revealed that patients with osteoarthritis had a strong reduction of pain and symptoms when devil’s claw extract was administered. (15)

The bitter constituents (iridoid glycosides) found in devil’s claw have been reported to be effective in dyspepsia and in regulating bile salts. (16) These constituents have been reported inactivated in gastric acid conditions, (17) but a recent in vitro study reports that the harpagoside content decreased only by about 10% in artificial gastric fluid within a period of 3 hours and remained stable in artificial intestinal fluid for a period of 6 hours. (18)

Devil’s claw is claimed to affect the gallbladder by relaxing smooth muscle, allowing bile to flow more readily. (19) It has been used to treat arthritis, being more suitable for osteoarthritis than rheumatoid arthritis. (20) , (21) The greatest efficacy of devil’s claw in the management of arthritic symptoms is claimed for chronic rather than acute cases. (22)

References

  1. Ficarra P, et al. HPLC Analysis of a Drug in Traditional Medicine: Harpagophytum procumbens DC. Boll Chim Farm. 1986;125(7):250-53.
  2. Bradley P, ed. British Herbal Compendium. Bournemouth:British Herbal Medicine Association;1992:78-80.
  3. Newall CA, et al. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press; 1996:98-100.
  4. View Abstract: Baghdikian B, et al. An Analytical Study, Anti-inflammatory and Analgesic Effects of Harpagophytum procumbens and Harpagophytum zeyheri. Planta Med. 1997;63(2):171-76.
  5. PDR for Herbal Medicines, 2nd ed. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company; 2000:248.
  6. PDR for Herbal Medicines, 2nd ed. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company; 2000:248.
  7. Newall CA, et al. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press; 1996:98-100.
  8. Erdos A, et al. Contribution to the Pharmacology and Toxicology of Different Extracts as Well as the Harpagosid from Harpagophytum procumbens DC. Planta Medica. 1978;34:97.
  9. View Abstract: Chrubasik S, et al. Effectiveness of Harpagophytum Extract WS 1531 in the Treatment of Exacerbation of Low Back Pain: A Randomized, Placebo-controlled, Double-blind Study. Eur J Anaesthesiol. Feb1999; 16(2):118-29.
  10. View Abstract: Lanhers MC, et al. Anti-inflammatory and Analgesic Effects of an Aqueous Extract of Harpagophytum procumbens. Planta Medica. 1992;58(2):117-23.
  11. View Abstract: Whitehouse LW, et al. Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens): No Evidence for Anti-inflammatory Activity in the Treatment of Arthritic Disease. Can Med Assoc J. Aug1983;129(3):249-51.
  12. Grahame R, et al. Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens): Pharmacological and Clinical Studies. Ann Rheum Dis. 1981;40(6):632.
  13. Eichler O, et al. Antiphlogistic, Analgesic and Spasmolytic Effect of Harpagoside, a Glycoside from the Root of Harpagophytum procumbens DC. Arzneim-Forsch/Drug Res. Jan1970;20(1):107-09.
  14. View Abstract: Leblan D, Chantre P, Fournie B. Harpagophytum procumbens in the Teatment of Knee and Hip Osteoarthritis. Four-month Results of a Prospective, Multicenter, Double-blind Trial Versus Diacerhein. Joint Bone Spine. 2000;67(5):462-7.
  15. View Abstract: Wegener T, Lupke NP. Treatment of patients with arthrosis of hip or knee with an aqueous extract of devil's claw (Harpagophytum procumbens DC.). Phytother Res. Dec2003;17(10):1165-72.
  16. Bradley P, ed. British Herbal Compendium. Bournemouth: British Herbal Medicine Association; 1992:78-80.
  17. View Abstract: Soulimani R, Younos C, Mortier F, Derrieu C. The role of stomachal digestion on the pharmacological activity of plant extracts, using as an example extracts of Harpagophytum procumbens. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. Dec1994;72(12):1532-6.
  18. View Abstract: Chrubasik S, Sporer F, Dillmann-Marschner R, Friedmann A, Wink M. Physicochemical properties of harpagoside and its in vitro release from Harpagophytum procumbens extract tablets. Phytomedicine. Jan2000;6(6):469-73.
  19. View Abstract: Occhiuto F, et al. A Drug Used in Traditional Medicine: Harpagophytum procumbens DC. IV. Effects on Some Isolated Muscle Preparations. J Ethnopharmacology. 1985;13:201-08.
  20. Grahame R, et al. Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens): Pharmacological and Clinical Studies. Ann Rheum Dis. 1981;40(6):632.
  21. View Abstract: Lanhers MC, et al. Anti-inflammatory and Analgesic Effects of an Aqueous Extract of Harpagophytum procumbens. Planta Medica. 1992;58(2):117-23.
  22. Newall CA, et al. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press; 1996:98-100.