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Harpagophytum 5.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Pedaliaceae
Genus: Harpagophytum
DC. ex Meisn.

Harpagophytum procumbens (Burch.) DC. ex Meisn.
Harpagophytum zeyheri Decne.

Plate from "Icones selectae plantarum", vol. 5: t. 94 (1846)

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 [1]) with values ranging in both species from 1.0% to 3.3%.

The name "devil's claw" is also used for several species of North American plants in the genus Proboscidea, as well as Urtica dioica and certain species of Pisonia.

Potential medical uses[edit]

beta-sitosterol is a minor constituent of Devil's Claw

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.[1]

Adverse reactions[edit]

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.[2] 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.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Wichtl Max (Ed.) 2004. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. medpharm Scientific Publishers/CRC Press. pp 272-274 ISBN 0-8493-1961-7
  2. ^ Agatonovic-Kustrin, Morton, & Singh (2012). Hybrid neural networks as tools for predicting the phase behavior of colloidal systems. Colloids Surf., A, 2012, 415. p. 59-67. 

External links[edit]