DC. ex Meisn.
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 (structure at PubChem ) with values ranging in both species from 1.0% to 3.3%.
Potential medical uses
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.
H. procumbens also seems efficacious in the treatment of arthritis-caused hip and knee pain. An author involved in several studies on Devil's Claw and pain relief had the general conclusion that a minimum 50 mg per dose standardized extract was an alternative to synthetic analgesics with a low risk of adverse events. A separate 2006 systematic review of herbal medications for low back pain reached the conclusion that a standardized daily dose between 50 and 100 mg of harpagoside performed better than a placebo, and an unspecified dose of harpagoside demonstrated relative equivalence to 12.5 mg per day of Vioxx.
Devil's claw may interfere with the action of ticlopidine and warfarin, and patients should consult with a physician before combining Devil's claw with these medications. In addition, Devil's Claw promotes the secretion of stomach acid, leading to difficulties in those with peptic ulcers, gastritis or excess stomach acid. Care should also be taken for individuals with gallstones.
- Wichtl Max (Ed.) 2004. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. medpharm Scientific Publishers/CRC Press. pp 272-274 ISBN 0-8493-1961-7
- Chrubasik S (July 2004). "[Devil's claw extract as an example of the effectiveness of herbal analgesics]". Orthopade (in German) 33 (7): 804–8. doi:10.1007/s00132-004-0675-7. PMID 15150687.
- Gagnier JJ, van Tulder M, Berman B, Bombardier C (2006). "Herbal medicine for low back pain". In Gagnier, Joel J. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2): CD004504. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004504.pub3. PMID 16625605.
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