Devil’s claw, known to nerds as Harpagophytum procumbens, owes its ominous name to its fruit, which bears several small, hook-like projections. Its roots are used in herbal medicine to reduce inflammation. Devil’s claw is proven to be most effective as an anti-inflammatory agent in doses of 200-800 mg three times per day.
The short version of the science is:
- Double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trials have demonstrated devil’s claw treatment is effective in reducing inflammation, improving mobility and relieving pain in a variety of conditions.
- People taking devil’s claw have reported needing lower doses of NSAIDs (i.e. nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen or aspirin) to manage pain.
- For most people, the risk of side effects for devil’s claw is low. However, it may be unsuitable for people with specific health conditions and those taking certain medications.
How Does It Work?
Devil’s claw has been proposed as a potential remedy for inflammatory conditions because it contains plant compounds called iridoid glycosides, particularly harpagoside. In clinical studies, harpagoside has curbed inflammatory responses through the suppression of cytokines. In case you aren’t familiar with the fancy term ‘cytokines’, they are molecules in your body known to promote inflammation.
An early study of harpagoside extract showed it was virtually as effective as a NSAID called Vioxx. After 6 weeks, participants’ lower back pain was reduced by an average of 23% with harpagoside and 26% with the NSAID.
What Does It Treat?
Devil’s claw appears to manage pain as effectively as taking a double dose of aspirin and preliminary evidence suggests that it may be a safer alternative treatment for inflammatory conditions.
Double-blind clinical trials show possible equivalence between devil’s claw extract and conventional drugs in the treatment of arthritis of the knee and hip and low back pain. Other clinical research into harpagoside has shown promise in treating osteoarthritis elsewhere in the body, generalized pain, muscle soreness and tendinitis. Patients in clinical trials have also reported improved mobility and even headache relief. This just shows that science hasn’t yet fully captured all the benefits of devil’s claw.
What’s The Bad News?
Overall, devil’s claw extract is well-tolerated with clinical trials showing no serious side effects and no reports of negative interactions with conventional drugs for arthritic conditions. That said, some conditions may put you at a higher risk for more serious reactions if you take any devil’s claw extract:
- Heart disorders: Studies have indicated that devil’s claw can affect heart rate, heartbeat and blood pressure.
- Diabetes: Devil’s claw may reduce blood sugar levels and intensify the effects of diabetes medications.
- Gallstones: Use of devil’s claw may increase the formation of bile and make problems worse for those with gallstones.
- Stomach ulcers: Production of acid in the stomach can increase with the use of devil’s claw, which may aggravate peptic ulcers.
Common medications may also negatively interact with devil’s claw, including prescription NSAIDs, blood thinners and stomach acid reducers.
- NSAIDs: Devil’s claw may slow the absorption of popular NSAIDs, such as Motrin, Celebrex, Feldene and Voltaren. Because devil’s claw actually amplifies the effects of these NSAIDs, many people are able to reduce the doses of NSAIDs they take.
- Blood thinners: Devil’s claw may enhance the effects of Coumadin (also known as warfarin), which may lead to increased bleeding and bruising.
- Stomach acid reducers: Devil’s claw may decrease the effectiveness of stomach acid reducers, such as Pepcid, Zantac, Prilosec and Prevacid.
A 60-day study of 47 patients aged 65+ found when devil’s claw is combined with turmeric and bromelain, patients reported dramatically decreased pain. Freedom combines devil’s claw with turmeric, bromelain and five other powerful anti-inflammation ingredients. Try Freedom risk free today and take high-potency ingredients that actively fight chronic inflammation.