Devil’s Claw in Herbal Medicine

Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) comes from the Pedaliaceae family, just like sesame.

Devil’s Claw has been extensively used in South African folk medicine in the form of an ointment for injuries and skin disorders, as well as internally as a dried root powder.

The root of Devil’s Claw has anti-inflammatory as well as pain reducing properties, if taken in an appropriate form, i.e. in enteric coating.

Prolonged contact of the Devil’s Claw with stomach acid decreases its healing potential significantly as it’s the intestinal bacteria which are responsible for activation of the pain-relieving chemicals found within this herb.

It is thus understandable that Devil’s Claw will not bring optimal results if taken close to the antibiotic treatment, which would have disturbed the bacterial flora of the bowels.

The most common uses of Devil’s Claw include:

  • Arthritis
  • Bladder and kidney issues
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Discomforts of pregnancy
  • Gallbladder and liver problems
  • Gout
  • Tendinitis
  • Osteoarthritis


In the above scenarios, it works very well when combined with other anti-inflammatory herbs, such as Willow bark.

Devil’s Claw boosts circulation and improves appetite by stimulation of gastric juices. This property makes it an unsuitable option for people suffering with peptic or duodenal ulcers as well as those currently taking blood thinners or antiarrhythmic medications.

If you are unsure whether Devil’s Claw would be a suitable option for you, please consult a herbalist.

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