Report on Devil’s Claw Side Effects and Usage

Devil’s Claw

Natural health supplements sometimes have unexpected side effects or interactions with medication that can lead to adverse reactions that are sometimes life threatening. The following is a list of cautions that you should be aware of before using Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens). These are referred to as drug/herb interactions.

Warning 1 – Contraindications: Devil’s Claw is counterindicated for those with gastric and duodenal ulcers; gallstones – use only after consulting with your healthcare provider.

Warning 2 – Antidysrhythmics: May affect the strength of contraction of the heart as well as the heart beat rate. Use cautiously because of these possible inotropic and chronotropic effects. If you have heart problems, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, talk with your healthcare provider before starting devil’s claw.

Warning 3 – Diabetes: Devil’s claw may lower blood sugar levels. Using it with medications that lower blood sugar levels may cause blood sugar to drop too low. Monitor blood glucose levels closely. Your healthcare provider may need to adjust the dosage of your diabetes medication.

Warning 4 – Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known yet about using devil’s claw while pregnant or breast-feeding. Until we learn more, Devil’s claw is POSSIBLY UNSAFE.

Used as a natural health remedy: Devil’s Claw is used internally for the following benefits:

  • appetite stimulant
  • bone healing
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • flatulence
  • gout
  • headache
  • nerve pain
  • reduce arthritis pain (See other herbs for inflammation)
  • reduce low back pain

The devil’s claw effects of anti-inflammatory and pain relief in joint diseases have been proven by laboratory studies.

Used as a natural health remedy: external use of liquid extracts of devil’s claw have been used to help releave the following:

  • skin lesions – sores
  • boils

Several studies on humans show that Devil’s Claw is as effective as COX-2 inhibitors and other anti-inflammatory drugs in treating arthritis and low back pain.

For osteoarthritis: A specific powdered devil’s claw root product (Harpadol, Arkopharm) dosed at 2.6 grams/day. This dose provides 57 mg of harpagoside, and 87 mg of iridoid glycosides, two of the active ingredients. Another specific devil’s claw extract (Doloteffin, Ardeypharm) was used at 2400 mg per day.

For back pain: A specific devil’s claw extract (Doloteffin, Ardeypharm) provides 50-100 mg of the active ingredient harpagoside daily.

Side Effects of Devil’s Claw

The known side effects of taking Devil’s Claw internally include the following:

  1. diarrhea (8%)
  2. abdominal pain
  3. headaches
  4. loss of appetite
  5. loss of taste
  6. nausea
  7. ringing in the ears
  8. vomiting

Devil’s Claw can also cause allergic skin reactions, menstrual problems, and changes in blood pressure. Other side effects may also occur when using Devil’s Claw internally. (See form below)

Devil’s Claw is also called grapple plant and wood spider.

As with any herb, a serious allergic reaction is possible. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction. These may include a rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, or trouble breathing.

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For questions and answers about the side effects of herbs see the Herb Forum

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