What it does… devil’s claw
What is it?
A native South African herb that gets its name from the spiky hooks that cover its fruits. Devil’s claw contains many beneficial nutrients, including flavonoids and antioxidants, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
What does it do?
Relieves osteoarthritis: Many studies show devil’s claw reduces the pain associated with osteoarthritis. French studies have shown it to be as effective as pain-relieving drugs and some people have reported increased mobility after using the herbal extract.
Eases lower back pain: A German study found that harpagoside, a key active ingredient of devil’s claw, benefited those with rheumatic disease affecting lower back, hip and knee.
Boosts digestion: The harpagoside ingredient is also useful for digestive disorders such as indigestion, sluggishness and loss of appetite.
Treats ulcers and boils: Anecdotal evidence suggests topical use may help treat these skin conditions.
When do I need it?
Whenever joint or back pain strikes, or if you’re diagnosed with osteoarthritis – wear and tear of the joints.
How do I get it?
The herb is commonly available in tablet and capsule form – a typical dose is generally once or twice a day. For topical application to painful joints, it’s also available as a tincture, cream or gel. You can also take devil’s claw in anti-inflammatory teas, where it’s often used as an ingredient and combined with ginger.
Be careful if…
Don’t take devil’s claw if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. People on anti-coagulants, or with heart conditions or blood pressure problems should steer clear, too. Devil’s claw can increase gastric and bile secretions – so avoid if you have gallstones or peptic ulcer. It may also lower blood sugar, so should only be used under medical supervision in those with diabetes.