Devil’s Claw (Harpagophtum procumbens)

Devil’s claw, sometimes known as wood-spider or grapple plant, is a trailing perennial in the Pedaliaceae, or sesame family that can grow up to five feet in length. It bears fleshy, lobed leaves, tuberous roots, and bright purple funnel shaped flowers. It gets it’s named from it’s tough, woody, and barbed fruits that resemble claws. It’s commonly found growing in the Transvaal of Southern and Eastern Africa and in the eastern and south eastern parts of Namibia, Southern Botswana and the Kalahari region of the Northern Cape, South Africa. It prefers clay and sandy soils, and grows readily in soils compacted by cattle grazing. It’s a common disturbance area plant, found growing roadside and in wastegrounds, or in other areas where the natural vegetation has cleared. They can be grown from seed in the spring and harvested in the fall for the medicinal tuber the same year. When harvesting, the tubers must not be mixed in with the roots, as this is thought to render the herb ineffective.

Parts Used
Tuber

Medicinal Uses
Devil’s claw is a good anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anodyne, and procumbine herb that greatly helps with arthritis, joint pains, rheumatism, muscular problems, back pains, fibrositis, osteoarthritis, digestive disorders, and gout. Although not always effective, when it does work, it’s sweet relief for general inflammation and pain. It also aids in gallbladder and liver complaints. It also functions as a bitter digestive stimulant, which is helpful for arthritis. Many arthritic conditions are associated with poor digestion and nutrient absorption, so the stimulant affect this herb has on the stomach and gallbladder can be a useful therapeutic herb in a holistic treatment of arthritis.

Folk Uses
Devil’s claw is a traditional South African remedy tonic herb, and is especially useful for treating digestive problems, rheumatic and arthritic pains, fevers, sores, ulcers, and boils. It was most commonly used by the Khoikhoin and the Bantu people. French researchers have confirmed the plant’s anti-inflammatory properties. Devil’s Claw has been a popular anti-inflammatory and arthritis treatment in Europe since European colonists in South Africa adopted the herbal remedy in the 18th century, where is is currently approved to treat degenerative disorders of the locomotor system.

Flavor Profile and Energetics
Bitter, astringent, cooling, lowers Pitta and Kappa, increases Vata.

Dosage
Decoction of 1/2-1 tsp of the rhizomonous root per cup of water, simmered for 10-15 minutes and drunk three times daily. As a tincture, 1-2 ml three times daily. Pills can also be purchased over the counter or made at home. Treatment should be used for at least a month.

Combinations
For arthritis, it combines well with celery seed, bogbean, or meadowsweet.

Contraindications
Can cause digestive troubles or diarrhea for people with gastritis and peptic ulcers in larger dosages.

(s) 1, 3, 10, 15, Herbwisdom

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A lady holds Devil's Claw tubers

A lady holds Devil’s Claw tubers

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