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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.

Harpagophytum procumbens - MHNT
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.

Research and folk medicine[edit]

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

Devil's claw or an extract of its constituents, such as iridoid glycosides ("harpagoside") or phenylpropanoid glycosides, is commonly used in folk medicine in some parts of the world (e.g., Kalahari region of southern Africa).[1] Although no clinical benefit has been proven to date, there is possibility for effect in treating low back pain or osteoarthritis.[2] However, numerous risks exist in using Devil's claw, including diarrhea.[2] Devil's claw preparations are under basic research to identify their potential biological activities.[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.[3] 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. ^ a b Mncwangi N, Chen W, Vermaak I, Viljoen AM, Gericke N (2012). "Devil's Claw-a review of the ethnobotany, phytochemistry and biological activity of Harpagophytum procumbens". J Ethnopharmacol 143 (3): 755–71. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2012.08.013. PMID 22940241. 
  2. ^ a b "Devil's claw". MedlinePlus, US National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Medicine. 2015. Retrieved 29 April 2015. 
  3. ^ 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]