advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Devil's Claw for Arthritis?
In Germany, devil's claw is widely used for arthritis pain of the back, knee and hip. What reliable information is available, and what is your opinion on the use of devil's claw?
A
Answer (Published 5/5/2006)

Devil's claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) is a desert plant that grows in southern Africa and is named for the miniature claw-like hooks that cover its fruit. For centuries, the native people of the Kalahari Desert dried and chopped up the roots for use in remedies to treat pain and indigestion and for topical applications on sores and other skin problems. In recent years, a number of scientific studies have suggested that devil's claw can help relieve the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis, particularly symptoms affecting the knee or hip. My colleague Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., tells me that there is also evidence to show that devil's claw can relieve low back pain.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Joint Health - Bone and joint issues a concern? Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor has herbs, vitamins and supplements that address bone and joint conditions, as well as others health problems. Learn more, and get your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor Recommendation today.

However, despite promising findings, study results have been inconsistent. One paper in the February, 1999, European Journal of Anaesthesiology reported a slight improvement in low back pain among patients treated, but other studies have shown no such effects.

While devil's claw does seem to provide some pain relief and anti-inflammatory effects, no one knows yet exactly how it works. However, it certainly does seem to be popular in Europe. Dr. Low Dog says that in 2001, devil's claw sales there amounted to 30 million euros and accounted for 74 percent of prescriptions for rheumatic complaints.

There's probably no harm in trying devil's claw for arthritis pain. The study showing that the herb helped relieved arthritis pain in the hip and knee found that it was most effective when taken along with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), and devil's claw may enable you to reduce the amount of NSAIDS you may be taking.

Devil's claw is safe at recommended doses, but we don't know the effects of long-term use. Reported side effects include headache, ringing in the ears, loss of taste and appetite, and diarrhea. Devil's claw can also affect stomach-acid levels and should be avoided by people with ulcers. Another potential problem with this herb: it may lower blood sugar levels, so it probably isn't for you if you are hypoglycemic or are taking any medications or supplements that affect blood sugar.

The adult dosage used in research for treatment of joint and muscle problems is 600 to 1,200 mg three times a day. Look for products standardized to contain 50 to 100 mg of harpagoside, the presumed active ingredient. Devil's claw also is available as a tincture, liquid extract, and dried root (for use in making tea which has been used traditionally to treat appetite loss or upset stomach).

If you're looking for natural pain relief for arthritis, I first recommend combination products that contain ginger, turmeric and other anti-inflammatory herbs, which I find work very well with few or no side effects.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here