Devil s Claw Benefits Herbal Uses Side Effects

Devil s Claw Benefits Herbal Uses Side Effects

Devil’s Claw

Brand and Other Names: afrikanische teufelskralle, ao ao, arpagofito, Arthrosetten H, Arthrotabsm, artiglio del diavolo, Artosan, Defencid, Doloteffin, duiwelsklou, ekatata, elyata, grapple plant, griffe du diable, Hariosen, Harpadol, HarpagoMega, harpagon, Harpagophytum procumbens, harpagoside, Jucurba N, khams, khuripe, klaudoring, likakata, otjihangatene, RheumaSern, RheumaTee, Salus, sengaparile, Sudafrikanische Teufelskralle, Trampelklette, Venustorn, windhoek’s root, wood spider, xemta’eisa

Drug Class: Herbals

What is Devil’s Claw and What is it Used For?

Devil’s claw is the common name of Harpagophytum procumbens, a flowering plant native to southern Africa. The plant gets its name from the tiny hooks covering the fruit. Devil’s claw has historically been used as an oral herbal remedy for pain, liver and kidney problems, malaria and fever. It has also been topically applied as an ointment to heal boils, sores, and other skin issues. Devil’s claw is most commonly used today for osteoarthritis, back pain, appetite loss, and gastrointestinal conditions.

Studies suggest that devil’s claw has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant, and anticancer properties. These therapeutic effects are believed to come from the bioactive substances it contains, including iridoid glucosides, phytosterols, and flavonoids. Devil’s claw has a high concentration of harpagoside, a type of iridoid glucoside, which appears to have strong anti-inflammatory effects.

Animal studies show that harpagoside inhibits the production of inflammatory proteins and prevents bone loss. It can promote the differentiation of osteoblasts, which form new bone tissue, and suppress osteoclasts that break down bone. While devil’s claw may have short-term benefits for osteoarthritis and lower back pain, there is insufficient evidence to support its other uses.

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Devil’s claw supplements are available in various forms, including capsules, tablets, liquid extracts, and ointments made from fresh or dried roots. Some suggested uses for devil’s claw include:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Lower back pain
  • Loss of appetite (anorexia)
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Inflammation of tendons and joints
  • Pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Cancer pain


  • Do not take devil’s claw if you are hypersensitive to any component of the formulation.
  • Do not administer devil’s claw to children.
  • Avoid taking devil’s claw if you have any of the following conditions:
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Gallstones
  • Low blood sodium levels
  • Peptic ulcer disease

Side Effects of Devil’s Claw

Common side effects of devil’s claw include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Indigestion
  • Taste loss
  • Allergic skin reactions
  • Headache
  • Slow heart rate (bradycardia)

Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms or serious side effects while using this drug:

  • Serious heart symptoms
  • Severe headache, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, vomiting, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady
  • Severe nervous system reaction
  • Serious eye symptoms

This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


What are the dosages of devil’s claw?

Osteoarthritis/Low Back Pain

  • Crude Extract: 2-9 g/d orally
  • Standardized Tablets: 600-1200 mg (=50-100 mg harpagoside) orally three times daily

Other Information

  • Anorexia: 1.5 g/day decoction
  • Elixir (1:1): 0.1-0.25 mL orally three times daily


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Devil’s claw appears to have low toxicity, and overdose may cause gastrointestinal upset but is unlikely to cause any serious adverse effects. Symptoms should resolve with discontinuation of devil’s claw and supportive care.

Drug Interactions with Devil’s Claw

Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking to check for possible drug interactions.

  • Devil’s claw has no known severe or serious interactions with other drugs.
  • Moderate interactions with devil’s claw include:
  • alteplase
  • antithrombin alfa
  • antithrombin III
  • argatroban
  • bemiparin
  • bivalirudin
  • dabigatran
  • dalteparin
  • enoxaparin
  • fondaparinux
  • heparin
  • phenindione
  • protamine
  • reteplase
  • tenecteplase

This is not a complete list of all possible drug interactions or adverse effects. For more information, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.

Always inform your doctor or healthcare provider of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, including dosage, and keep a list of this information. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions about the medication.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Devil’s claw may harm the fetus, so avoid taking it if you are pregnant.
  • There isn’t enough information on the safety of devil’s claw use in breastfeeding women, so avoid if you are nursing.
  • Never take any herbal supplement without first consulting your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Additional Information about Devil’s Claw

  • Devil’s claw is likely safe for most adults in recommended doses for up to 12 weeks.
  • Use devil’s claw as instructed on the label. Follow recommended dosing instructions for natural products.
  • Check with your healthcare provider before taking any herbal supplement, including devil’s claw, especially if you have health conditions or take regular medication.
  • Herbal products often contain multiple ingredients, so check labels for the components in the devil’s claw product you choose.
  • Devil’s claw is marketed as an herbal supplement and is not regulated by the FDA. Exercise caution when choosing a product, as formulations and strengths may vary.
  • Keep devil’s claw supplements safely out of reach of children.
  • In case of overdose, seek medical help or contact Poison Control.
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Devil’s claw is the common name of Harpagophytum procumbens, a flowering plant native to southern Africa. It is commonly used for osteoarthritis, back pain, appetite loss, and gastrointestinal conditions. Common side effects include diarrhea, indigestion, taste loss, allergic skin reactions, headache, and slow heart rate. Devil’s claw may harm the fetus, so avoid it if you are pregnant.


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