Category: Medicines - plant based
Introduction and description
Harpagophytum, also called grapple plant, wood spider and most commonly devil's claw, is a genus of plants in the sesame family, native to southern Africa. It owes its common name devil's claw to the peculiar appearance of its hooked fruit. The plant's large tuberous roots are used medicinally to reduce pain and fever, and to stimulate digestion. European colonists brought devil's claw home where it was used to treat arthritis.
Harpagophytum procumbens is mainly found in the eastern and south eastern parts of Namibia, Southern Botswana and the Kalahari region of the Northern Cape, South Africa. Harpagophytum zeyheri is found in the northern parts of Namibia (Ovamboland) and southern Angola.
The active ingredient is harpagoside with values ranging in both species from 1.0% to 3.3%.
The constituents thought to be responsible for the anti-inflammatory effects of Devil's Claw (dried secondary tubers) are iridoid glycosides, particularly harpagoside (trans-cinnamoyl harpagide) including small amounts of trans-coumaroyl harpagide, procumbide and plant sterols.
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. This herbal drug is also official in the European Pharmacopoeia and a component of a number of OTC preparations and dietary supplements for its claimed anti-rheumatic effects
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