Devil’s Claw: what is it for and how to make tea

This content is part of the Alternative Medicine category and may contain information that lacks scientific studies and/or medical consensus.

The devil’s claw herb ( Harpagophytum procumbens ) is a medicinal plant of African origin with anti-inflammatory properties. Its popular name comes from the shape of its fruits, full of tips and claws.

According to nutritionist and herbalist Paula Soares, the anti-inflammatory effect of the plant is scientifically proven and it also has an analgesic effect .

“The anti-inflammatory effects of this plant appear quickly, but the complete efficiency appears, generally, only after three weeks of treatment”, says the specialist.

What is the devil’s claw herb for?

According to Paula, the main indications of devil’s claw are for rheumatic diseases , such as: arthrosis, also known as osteoarthritis; arthritis; tendonitis and gout.

The plant also works in cases of low back pain, the famous back pain , especially acute low back pain. ( 1 )

Arthritis and arthrosis 

Studies show that using devil’s claw reduces pain and improves physical functioning in people with osteoarthritis. ( 2 )

Paula cites a four-month study of 122 people with knee and hip osteoarthritis that compared devil’s claw to a European pain relief medication . ( 3 )

“The results were extremely positive for devil’s claw: patients who took the herb felt the same effects as patients who took the drug, with the advantage of experiencing fewer side effects,” says the herbalist.

In addition to this research, an analysis of several studies on the use of devil’s claw revealed that the herb is also effective in treating arthritis in the spine, hip and knee, as well as decreasing joint pain . ( 4 )

“People who take devil’s claw can lower the doses of medications they use for pain, although the study that provides this evidence was conducted using a specific powdered devil’s claw root product,” Paula points out. 

back and neck pain

Paula says that taking devil’s claw orally seems to be able to reduce back pain.

“In a study of 63 people with mild to moderate back, neck or shoulder pain, taking a devil’s claw extract helped relieve the pain,” he says. 

In another study, men and women with chronic lower back pain who took devil’s claw reported that they needed less pain relievers and experienced less pain. ( 4 )

“In research published in the journal  Rheumatology , the effects of devil’s claw were compared to that of an anti-inflammatory for six weeks. The results showed that people who took devil’s claw had the same benefits as those who took the anti-inflammatory,” says the professional. 

Other uses

In addition to these proven benefits, Paula points out that many naturalists also recommend devil’s claw to treat stomach irritation , loss of appetite, high cholesterol , muscle aches, migraines, headaches , allergies, and fever . 

“Topical preparations can be used on the skin to heal wounds, ulcers, blisters and lesions. Devil’s claw also appears to have an effect on controlling diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels. However, these uses of the herb are not yet proven”, emphasizes the specialist. 

Devil’s Claw loses weight?

Some people have doubts if the devil’s claw helps with weight loss , but the professional says that there is no scientific article from reliable sources that proves that the herb has this effect.

Devil’s claw tea: how to make

Devil’s claw tea is one of the ways to consume the herb and provides many benefits for our health.

“Devil’s claw tea has anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antirheumatic properties, being equal to or more effective than some chemical drugs synthesized by the pharmaceutical industry”, emphasizes Paula.

If consumed over a period of several days, devil’s claw tea may also be effective in improving symptoms of upper small intestine disorders. ( 4 )

The nutritionist teaches how to prepare the tea : “In ½ liter of boiling water, place 1 tablespoon of chopped tubers (roots) and let it warm covered. Strain and drink. Consume 2-3 cups of tea a day, between meals”.

It is also possible to consume devil’s weed through capsules or tincture . Paula also indicates the use of gel in some specific cases, such as: contusions, tendonitis, back pain, sciatica, stiff neck and other muscle pain.

Side effects and contraindications

Paula advises that devil’s claw is contraindicated for pregnant and lactating women , in cases of gastrointestinal ulcers, for people allergic to the plant, in addition to children under three years of age. 

Although they are rare, the professional also warns about some possible side effects of consuming the herb: “gastrointestinal complications may occur, such as gastritis and stomach pain ; headaches; duodenal ulcers; allergies and hallucinations”.

Therefore, she always recommends reading the medicine package insert and consulting the pharmacist or a specialist before consuming any type of medicinal plant. 

Ellie Lauderdale

My name is Ellie Lauderdale, MD and I am USA based professional Nutritionist .

I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who is trained in integrative medicine. I have worked with hundreds of clients, from those suffering with chronic disease to professional and olympian athletes. My goal is to help optimize you from the inside so that you can feel, perform, and look your best on the outside.

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