The devil’s claw plant is one of the most effective remedies phytotherapy has to treat rheumatic conditions.
The Healing Properties of the Devil’s Claw Plant
Since the early 20th century, the root of the devil’s claw has been deeply analyzed in-depth, mainly in German laboratories, being the object of much research. More than 40 active substances have been discovered in this root, among which the most outstanding are monoterpene glycosides of the iridoid group (glycoiridoid), harpagine, harpagide, and procumbide. The devil’s claw plant owes its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic properties to these substances.
Anti-inflammatory and antirheumatic – Devil’s claw plant is recommended for rheumatic aches caused by arthrosis. Good results are obtained for cervical, lumbar, hip, and knee arthrosis. This has been confirmed by clinical research. After two or three months of treatment, articular motility improves significantly, and pain disappears. The plant has proven helpful for all kinds of articular rheumatism.
Antirheumatic properties of the devil’s claw plant are produced both when it is taken orally and when it is applied externally. Best effects are achieved when simultaneously combining internal and external applications of the devil’s claw.
Depurative – This plant promotes the elimination through the urine of acid metabolic waste, like uric acid, which is the causative agent of gout and many cases of arthritis (inflammation of the joints).
Antispasmodic – It relaxes spasms or intestinal colic, irritable bowel, and biliary and renal colic.
Hypolipemic – Devil’s claw reduces the cholesterol level in the blood and regenerates the elastic fibers which make arterial walls, thus being essential for arteriosclerosis.
Devil’s Claw Plant Scientific Facts
- Scientific Name – Harpagophytum procumbens Dec.
- French – Herpagophytum
- Spanish – Harpagofito
- Environment – Native to South Africa, on the nearby areas to the Kalahari desert, in current Namibia. It grows in argillaceous and sandy soils.
- Description – Vivacious plant of the Pedsacliaceae family, which has single purple flowers similar to those of foxglove. The fruit grows at soil level and is woody, with hooks. The primary root is a long tuber of which secondary roots, similar to peanuts, grow. These have a very sour flavor and are the medicinal part of the plant.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally – The secondary roots.
How to use Devil’s Claw
- Infusion – The usual dose is 15 grams (a spoonful) of root powder per half a liter of water. Steep for half an hour to one hour. Drink three or four cups per day.
- Capsules – Due to its sour flavor, it is also available as capsules containing root powder. Three or four should be swallowed daily. We recommend that you take infusions of pharmaceutical preparations of devil’s claw before meals.
- Compresses or fomentations soaked in the infusion are described for internal use, though it is better to prepare it more concentrated. Apply directly on the affected skin area several times.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 670, 671. Print. [devil’s claw plant]