Devil's claw

Devil's claw

Despite the vaguely disturbing name, the devil's claw appears to be a portentous remedy, for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, in counteracting a multiplicity of human ailments and affections. The fruits of the plant, scientifically known as Arpagofito, have excrescences endowed with robust hooks which, penetrating into the body and legs of animals, produce wounds that force them to a "devilish" dance, this explains the origin of the denomination. Also putting your foot on it is not advisable: the pain is excruciating. The herbaceous plant is widespread in south-western and southern Africa, particularly in the Kalahari desert, in the steppes of Namibia and Madagascar. It is traditional South African medicine that has used plant derivatives to treat rheumatic diseases, fevers and stomach aches. With the German colonization of Namibia the knowledge of the virtues of this plant spread to Germany and then to Europe. Its usefulness and efficacy for therapeutic purposes has been confirmed by laboratory studies and research. It seems, in particular, that the so-called glycosides are responsible for the healing and medicinal properties of the Arpagofito. It is commercially available in the form of capsules, tablets or mother tincture, preparations indicated for internal use, while for external use there is a large variety of creams, ointments, gels, in which the devil's claw is often associated with other substances such as arnica or bee venom, to more effectively counteract painful sensations induced by rheumatism or trauma. Therefore, the tendency on the part of modern medicine to re-evaluate the traditional remedies deriving from nature, if its efficacy has been demonstrated, is confirmed, precisely because the treatments based on the active principles of plants, far from working miracles, can contribute to improving the quality of life in subjects suffering from different pathologies. The advice is in any case to avoid the "do it yourself" and to rely on experienced and trusted personnel for clarification on its use and on any contraindications.

From nature a help against rheumatism

Those affected by rheumatism know this well: pain can become unsustainable, especially if the districts of the body involved are multiple. Eliminating the problem at its root is a continuous challenge that lasts a lifetime: these are diseases that can have negative effects on social and family life. If traditional medicine offers different possibilities of treatment, depending on the severity and type of pathology, nature too is not far behind. And to alleviate, at least in part, pain can be an important result. The devil's claw is indicated for this very reason. It is particularly effective in case of tendinitis and joint pain, also caused by rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Its use is recommended above all for the discomforts located in the neck-back area but its effectiveness has been confirmed also in other cases, such as foot and leg pains. You can take capsules for a more effective action from the inside but massages are also recommended on the affected part several times a day with creams and ointments that contain the active ingredient having in this case the foresight not to rub your eyes, worth a little burning. From research conducted in the field of ethnopharmacology it has been estimated that the consumption of devil's claw-based preparations against rheumatism in Germany continues to be extraordinarily high and that its effectiveness is equal, if not greater, than that of common anti-inflammatories , but only if the intake is regular. The results were encouraging even in cases where the substance was compared to a placebo. The devil's claw is also indicated for small distortions and traumatic events of slight entity: its active ingredients contribute to reducing the hematoma and pain, with a restoration in a short time of the normal functionality of the affected part. The use of this natural substance is then particularly recommended in the rather frequent traumas caused by an intense and constant sporting activity, in order not to overload the body with anti-inflammatories, which are certainly effective but sometimes harmful.

And against stomach disorders

Other properties are also attributed to this vegetable: in fact it is believed that it can be an effective digestive, due to its active ingredients with a bitter taste, to be taken for example in the form of teas and infusions, capable of stimulating gastric and bile juices and therefore accelerating digestion. And it also seems to have a cholesterol-lowering action, therefore useful in all those cases in which a high level of cholesterol in the blood can have harmful consequences on the cardiovascular system, and hypouricemic, therefore to be taken in case of gout. In addition to slow digestion and indigestion, there may be other frequent disorders of the gastrointestinal tract: an infusion of devil's claw roots, for example, may serve to stimulate the return of appetite.


The toxicity of the devil's claw is very low, however the active ingredients can cause gastrointestinal disorders in particularly sensitive or allergic subjects. It is not recommended to take in case of diabetes, gastric ulcer and duodenal ulcer, pregnancy (can induce uterine contractions), breastfeeding and in association with anticoagulant and antiarrhythmic drugs.
Despite the rather unfortunate name, the devil's claw is a friend of well-being and health and a valuable ally in the fight against pain. Seeing is believing.