Devil's claw is a veritable cure-all, and has long been known as a medicinal plant, with the San of the Kalahari having used it first.
The root or "tuber" is considered medicinal and is preferred by herbalists because of its high concentration of the beneficial component harpagoside.
Recent studies show very good results with devil's claw as a pain-reliever.
The plant is commonly used to treat rheumatism and arthritis, and as a general health tonic. Infusions of the dried root are used as a cure for digestive disorders and as a tonic in lack of appetite. It is also taken as a pain-reliever, especially during pregnancy, and the treatment continued after labour. An ointment is made from the root material which is applied to sores, ulcers and boils.
Also used for cleaning the body from waste and toxic by-products of the metabolism.
In its local areas, and increasingly elsewhere, it has also been used for fever, blood diseases, blood purification, lower back pain and pain in pregnant women, coughs, diarrhoea, diabetes, bleeding gums, syphilis, gonorrhoea, gout and lumbago. It also helps with diseases of the liver, gall bladder, kidneys, pancreas, digestive system (heartburn, peptic ulcers, constipation and lack of appetite) and small joints, as well as hypertension, high cholestrol and tuberculosis. Externally it helps heal ulcers, boils, skin lesions and wounds.
The most important components of devil's claw root are iridoid glycosides (mainly harpagoside, harpagide and procumbide). Some of its properties are listed: analgesic, anti-arrhythmic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, diuretic, hypotensive, laxative, purgative, relaxing, uterocontractant and a febrifuge, cholelogue and bitter tonic. In western medicine it is mainly used for arthritis and rheumatism.Derivation of name and historical aspects :
The plant's common name is attributed to its peculiar claw-like seedpods which are covered with small hook-like protuberances.
William Burchell gave this plant the name procumbens, meaning prostrate or lying down, in 1822. He placed it in the genus Uncaria and thought it was related to Martynia that also has a spiny fruit. In 1840, Meisner published De Candolle's name, Harpagophytum, for devil's claw. This name is a direct translation of 'grapple plant' into Greek.Contra-indications :
There are some warnings in the literature. Devil's claw can be allergenic and is contra-indicated for diabetics and people with duodenal and gastric ulcers. Very high doses may act against blood pressure and cardiac therapy. High doses may also cause abortion. $8.99 for one fluid-ounce tincture bottle.
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