Devil’s claw may be Beneficial for Osteoarthritis





Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Arthritis, Osteo
Professional Data: Arthritis, Osteo


Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, affecting only the joints. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, over 33 million Americans suffer from Osteoarthritis. Of these, the majority are individuals over 65 yrs of age.1 Most medical treatments for osteoarthritis are usually prescribed to control symptoms and include nonsteroidol anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), Cox-2 Inhibitors, Acetaminophen, corticosteroids and various topical creams and surgery.

Recently a group of researchers in France completed a study that indicated that the herb devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) was as effective as the drug diacerhein in relieving pain associated with osteoarthritis. Devil's claw is a native of South Africa, It has been used medicinally by Native South Africans to reduce pain and fever and to stimulate digestion. Europeans use it today as popular treatment for arthritis. Diacerhein is a slow-acting drug for osteoarthritis (SADOAs) used in Europe. Unlike anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, SADOAs don't give immediate relief, but take time, up to several weeks to effectively reduce arthritis pain.

This 4 month randomized, double blind study was conducted with 92 patients between ages of 30 and 79, all of whom had been diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip. Each received Harpodol( 6 capsules/daily, each containing 435mg of Harpagophytum procumbens) or diacerhein( 100mg/day). After 4 months both treatments indicated they were equally effective in reducing the pain associated with osteoarthritis. On a scale of 1 to 100, pain in the devil’s claw group fell from 63.6 to 31.3 after 16 weeks, while the pain levels in the diacerhein group fell from 61.6 to 35.8. In addition, the group of patients’ receiving the devil’s claw used significantly lower dosages of NSAIDS and analgesics and experienced fewer side effects than those in the diacerhein group. The most common side effect reported in either group was diarrhea, which occurred less frequently in the devil’s claw group.2

Based on the outcome of this study, the authors concluded Harpadol “is an effective therapeutic agent in osteoarthritis, which can be safely administered to patients”.3


1. National Center for Health Statistics: Vital and Health Statistics Report series 10, No 200.
2. Devil's Claw Beneficial for Osteoarthritis. Integrative Journal of Medicine. Jan 2001.
3. Chantre P, et al. Efficacy and tolerance of Harpagophytum procumbens versus diacerhein in treatment of osteoarthritis. Phytomedicine. 2000 Jun;7(3):177-83.