Vitamin Expert

Devil’s Claw

(harpagophytum procumbens)

Botanical family: Pedaliaceae
Parts used: Roots
Main active ingredients: Iridoids, especially harpagosides, plant sterols and flavonoids
Actions: Anti-inflammatory, analgesic
Good for: Lower back pain, painful joints caused by osteoarthritis, general muscular aches and pains
Available forms: Capsules, tincture, ointments, creams, gels, tea

Devil’s claw is a perennial shrub that grows wild in the desert countries of Southern Africa, most notably in the Kalahari sands of Namibia. After heavy rain it develops luscious leaves and beautiful red-violet trumpet-shaped flowers.

The herb takes its common name from its large thorny seedpods, which are a hazard for animals when they become entangled in their fur – its botanical name is derived from the Greek ‘harpago’ meaning a ‘grappling hook’.

History of Devil’s Claw

Devil’s claw has a long history as a healing herb in its native land. It was used in remedies to treat pain, digestive complaints, migraine, fever and allergic reactions as well as rheumatic pain.

Current uses of Devil’s Claw


Research shows that devil’s claw can help relieve pain and in some cases improve mobility in people suffering from osteoarthritis or degenerative rheumatism. It is not known exactly how devil’s claw works but the anti- inflammatory properties of the active compounds, the harpagosides and the plants sterols found in its roots, are thought to be responsible.

How to take Devil’s Claw

You need to take at least 600mg (standardised extract) of devil’s claw with food at least twice a day.
For minor joint pains, gels and ointments can be gently massaged into affected area twice a day.
Devil’s claw can be taken with other supplements and there is no evidence that it interacts with prescribed medications at the recommended dosage.
Take for a minimum of three weeks before you can expect to see results.
Can be taken on an on-going basis if required.


Devil’s claw should be avoided in cases of gallstones, duodenal or peptic ulcers as it promotes secretion of digestive juices.
Devil’s claw should not be taken during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Try this

Devil’s claw can be found in FlexiHerb (traditionally used for back pain, rheumatic pain, joint pain and muscular pain).