Devils claw (Harpagophytum procumbens)

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Traditional Indications

Devil's claw is anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, anodyne, digestive stimulant, sedative and hepatic. Devil's claw is traditionally indicated in liver and gall-bladder complaints. Devil's claw is also traditionally prescribed for arthritis.

Pharmacognosy

Devil's claw is a known anti-inflammatory (1) and is often used in the supportive treatment of inflammatory and degenerative diseases of the skeletal system.

The biological activity has been ascribed to the active constituents iridoid glycosides and phenylpropanoid glycosides. Iridoid glycosides (including harpagoside and harpagide), which are common in nature and known to possess anti-inflammatory activity. Scientific studies revealed that Devil’s claw exhibits analgesic, anti-oxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-epileptic, antimicrobial and antimalarial activities amongst others. (2)

Scientific data indicates that a standardised ethanol devil’s claw extract inhibits induction of pro-inflammatory gene expression, possibly by blocking the AP-1 pathway. (3)

1. Ghasemian M, Owlia S, Owlia MB. Review of Anti-Inflammatory Herbal Medicines. Advances in pharmacological sciences. 2016;2016:9130979-.
2. Mncwangi N, Chen W, Vermaak I, Viljoen AM, Gericke N. Devil's Claw—A review of the ethnobotany, phytochemistry and biological activity of Harpagophytum procumbens. Journal of ethnopharmacology. 2012;143(3):755-71.
3. Fiebich BL, Muñoz E, Rose T, Weiss G, McGregor GP. Molecular Targets of the Antiinflammatory Harpagophytum procumbens (Devil's claw): Inhibition of TNFα and COX-2 Gene Expression by Preventing Activation of AP-1. 2012;26(6):806-11.