Scientific: Harpagophytum [WikiPedia]
Composition: The active ingredients are various iridoid glycosides, acetylated phenolic glycosides, and terpenoids.
Appearance: This plant, which
is native to Africa, gets its name from the appearance of its fruit,
which is covered with hooks meant to attach onto animals to spread the
Parts Used: The roots and tubers
Common Uses: Devil’s claw is
used for “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), arthritis, gout,
muscle pain (myalgia), back pain, tendonitis, chest pain,
gastrointestinal (GI) upset or heart burn, fever, and migraine headache.
It is also used for difficulties in childbirth, menstrual problems,
allergic reactions, loss of appetite, and kidney and bladder disease.
Multiple studies suggest that devil’s claw tuber may
help alleviate the pain of osteoarthritis, primarily through the
iridoid glycoside constituents it contains. Devil’s claw has become very
popular in recent years, and appears in numerous arthritis relief
formulas for dogs and other animals. However, despite its popularity,
there has been many mixed reviews from veterinary practitioners and dog
owners regarding its efficiency. The reasons behind this controversy may
be related to how the herb is harvested. The tubers of this
bizarre-looking little African plant must be selectively harvested from
mature plants that are at least four years old, and the harvest must be
done during a very specific stage of the plant’s growth cycle. The most
sustainable practice is to harvest only one to a few of the tubers that
extend from the plant’s base, leaving enough to assure the plant’s
survival and the re-growth of new tubers. Unfortunately, increased
demand for this herb has led to the premature harvest of too many
tubers, and in many areas, we are seeing declining populations of the
Because tubers from immature plants lack sufficient
concentrations of active iridoid glycoside constituents, much of the
devil’s claw sold on the North American market is functionally useless.
With that said, there are sustainable sources for those who seek it out;
aside from its bitter flavour, properly-harvested devil’s claw is an
excellent joint pain remedy.
Its main ingredient are iridoid (mainly
harpagoside), as well as harpagide, phenolic glycosides (acteoside and
isoacteoside), procumbide together with their cinnamic and coumarin acid
Alternatives and Adjuncts:
Topic Specific Research:
PLEASE NOTE that herbal and
other natural products can harm your animals – not all plants are safe
and gentle! Do not attempt using any of the ingredients listed, or any
other plant matter, without the guidance of a qualified herbalist.
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