Devil's Claw

Indications

Back pain: Taking devil's claw by mouth seems to reduce low-back pain. Devil's claw seems to work about as well as some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Osteoarthritis: Taking devil's claw alone or along with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) seems to help decrease osteoarthritis-related pain. Some evidence suggests that devil's claw works about as well as diacerhein (a slow-acting drug for osteoarthritis that is not available in the U.S.) for improving osteoarthritis pain in the hip and knee after 16 weeks of treatment. Some people taking devil's claw seem to be able to lower the dose of NSAIDs they need for pain relief. This evidence comes from a study that used a specific powdered devil's claw root product (Harpadol, Arkopharma) containing 2% of the devil's claw ingredient harpagoside (9.5 mg/capsule) and 3% total iridoid glycosides (14.5 mg per capsule). Another specific devil's claw extract (Doloteffin, Ardeypharm) 2400 mg/day providing 60 mg/day of the harpagoside ingredient has also been used.

Therapeutic Class

Herbal and Nutraceuticals

Pharmacology

Devil's claw contains chemicals that might decrease inflammation and swelling and resulting pain.

Dosage & Administration

For osteoarthritis: A specific powdered devil's claw root product (Harpadol, Arkopharm) dosed at 2.6 grams/day. This dose provides a total of 57 mg of harpagoside, one of the active ingredients, and 87 mg of total iridoid glycosides, another active ingredient. Another specific devil's claw extract (Doloteffin, Ardeypharm) dosed at 2400 mg/day has also been used.

For back pain: A specific devil's claw extract (Doloteffin, Ardeypharm) that provides 50-100 mg of the active ingredient harpagoside daily.

Side Effects

Devil's claw is possibly safe for most adults when taken by mouth in appropriate doses for up to a year. The most common side effect is diarrhea. About 8% of the people participating in one research study developed diarrhea. Other possible side effects include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, headaches, ringing in the ears, loss of appetite, and loss of taste. It can also cause allergic skin reactions, menstrual problems, and changes in blood pressure. However, not enough is known about the safety of using devil's claw long-term or applying it to the skin.

Pregnancy & Lactation

Devil's claw is possibly safe. It might harm the developing fetus. Avoid use in pregnancy. It is also best to avoid using devil's claw while breast-feeding. Not enough is known yet about its safety during breast-feeding.

Precautions & Warnings

Heart problems, high blood pressure, low blood pressure: Since devil's claw can affect heart rate, heartbeat, and blood pressure, it might harm people with disorders of the heart and circulatory system. If you have one of these conditions, talk with your healthcare provider before starting devil's claw.

Diabetes: Devil's claw might lower blood sugar levels. Using it along with medications that lower blood sugar might cause blood sugar to drop too low. Monitor blood glucose levels closely. Your healthcare provider might need to adjust your dose of diabetes medications.

Gallstones: Devil's claw might increase bile production. This could be a problem for people with gallstones. Avoid using devil's claw.

Peptic ulcer disease (PUD): Since devil's claw might increase the production of stomach acids, it might harm people with stomach ulcers. Avoid using devil's claw.

Storage Conditions

Keep below 30°C temperature, away from light & moisture. Keep out of the reach of children.

Available Brand Names