Devil’s Claw
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: June Harper
Posted on: July 23, 1998

Could you send me all the info you have on Devil’s Claw and how it affects the system of a human. I am currently taking it and it does help with my arthritis, but I would like to know possible side effects. Also how it interacts with others such as St. John’s wort.

Devil’s claw is desert plant from southern Africa with deep, sinister-looking claw-shaped roots. The roots are the medicinal part.

The main medicinal effects are antiinflammatory and analgesic. It is mostly promoted for use against rheumatic problems including arthritis. The analgesic effect is weak, so it cannot be used to for that effect only. It has been used for other conditions in folk medicine; for example, in South Africa it is used for digestive disorders, blood disorders, complaints during pregnancy, and for pain control. In European folk medicine it is also used for liver, bile, kidney and bladder problems, and for the general manifestations of ageing.

According to the German Commission E monograph on devil’s claw, there are no known side effects or interactions with other herbs, including St. Johnswort. It is contraindicated for gastric and duodenal ulcers, and gallstones.

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