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Devils Claw Root

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Devils Claw Root - Harpagophytum procumbens

Devil's claw offers slow but sure relief of joint pain caused by both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and it can also relieve muscle pain and enhance mobility for people with either arthritis or muscle injuries.

French researchers tested the herb Harpagophytum procumbens, commonly known as devil's claw, on 122 osteoarthritis patients between the ages of 30 and 79. The study participants, who had arthritis of the knee and hip, over a four month period received either devil's claw or the drug diacerhein, which is approved in France and Italy. Both the herb and drug groups experienced similar pain relief benefits, but the group taking devil's claw experienced significantly decreased side effects, particularly less gastrointestinal distress.

Devil's claw has been aproved by the German Commission E as a nonprescription drug to treat pain and Inflammation of the joints, termed degenerative disorders of the locomotor system. The herb comes from the Kalahari desert of Africa and is used in traditional African medicine.

"At least two previous clinical trials on devil's claw have supported its use as an aid in treating lower back pain and rheumatic conditions," commented Mark Blumenthal of the American Botanic Council, an independent nonprofit education and research organization. "This study is significant in that it is the first to show the potential benefits of devil's claw for osteoarthritis. Although more research is warranted, this may be good news to people who suffer from osteoarthritis, as well as their physicians, whose therapeutic choices have been fairly limited."

The two active ingredients in Devil's Claw are harpagoside and beta-sitosterol. It is claimed that these possess anti-inflammatory properties. The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia recognises Devil's Claw as having analgesic, sedative and diuretic properties. Most studies involve chronic use rather than acute treatment of pain.

Devil's Claw is also claimed to be beneficial for treating diseases of the liver, kidneys, Gallbladder and bladder, arthritis and rheumatism. It is said to help alleviate problems with and improve the vitality of the joints, as well as stimulating appetite and aid digestion, increase cholesterol and fatty acids in the blood. Devil's Claw has been recommended for treating diabetes, hardening of the arteries, lumbago, gastrointestinal disturbances, menstrual difficulties, neuralgia, headache, heartburn and gout.

Several studies have been performed using Doloteffin, a standardized preparation of Devil's Claw. A series of small-scale studies completed in Germany found that H. procumbens was indistinguishable from Vioxx in the treatment of chronic low back pain,[3] and was well-tolerated after more than four years of treatment of H. procumbens alone. H. procumbens also seems efficacious in the treatment of arthritis-caused hip and knee pain. An author involved in several studies on Devil's Claw and pain relief had the general conclusion that a minimum 50 mg per dose standardized extract was an alternative to synthetic analgesics with a low risk of adverse events. A separate 2006 systematic review of herbal medications for low back pain reached the conclusion that a standardized daily dose between 50 and 100 mg of harpagoside performed better than a placebo, and an unspecified dose of harpagoside demonstrated relative equivalence to 12.5 mg per day of Vioxx.

Devil's claw can also be used externally to treat sores, ulcers, boils and skin lesions.

Devil's claw is native to South Africa, named because of its peculiar appearance. Its claw-like roots are used in medicines after they are chopped and allowed to dry in the sun for at least 3 days. The tribal herbal traditions of South Africa employed devil's claw to relieve pain and stimulate digestion. Devil's claw is one of the bitterest of all herbs, making a very good digestive stimulant. English and Dutch explorers traded for devil claw and sold it in Europe as a popular remedy for arthritis

Don't use devil's claw if you take Coumadin (warfarin) or Plavix. Tell your surgeon you have been taking devil's claw before you have surgery. Safety during pregnancy has not been established. Not recommended for those who suffer from stomach inflammation
This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.