Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) Reduces Arthritis Pain – Director’s Choice

Abstracted by Tatjana Djakovic, MS. Using at 480mg twice a day reduced pain and stiffness by 32.7% in eight weeks in patients with mild to moderate arthritis. Posted March 28,2013.

Arthritis and other conditions characterized by inflammation or pain in muscles and joints are the leading cause of disability. The condition is expected to increase by 2030, which can have a large impact on the economy (1). The current treatment is the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, however there have been gastrointestinal problems reported. There is a need for herbal therapies that are effective and do not produce an unfavorable or potentially damaging side effects (2).

An herbal supplement derived from a South African plant known as Devil’s Claw has been used as a traditional relief for arthritic symptoms (3). A single group open study investigated the effectiveness and safety of Devil’s Claw tablets in the treatment of patients with arthritic disorders (4). The study consisted of 259 patients with mild to moderate arthritis in at least one joint or body area. The total daily intake of Devil’s Claw was 480 mg twice daily for a period of 8 weeks. The parameters analyzed included: the effectiveness in treating arthritis associated pain, general assessment of the treatment including safety and tolerability, and changes in the quality of life.

The pain and stiffness were significantly reduced by 24.5 % at week 4 and by 32.7 % by week 8 when compared to baseline (p< 0.0001). The pain reduction in soft tissues was reduced by 38.3 % (p<0.01).  The general effectiveness was rated as being excellent by 54.1 % of the patients while 21.2 % reported no change in the effectiveness. The blood samples showed no significant changes in the clinical outcomes such as white and red blood cell count. In addition, the patients that took the pain medicine at the beginning of the study, 44.8 % decreased their dosage by week 8, 16.9 % had the same dosage, 9.1 % increase their dosage while 26.0 % had completely stopped taking pain medicine. 

Adverse effects were reported in 17 % of the patients. They were mainly mild gastrointestinal complaints which were considered to be only possibly related to the intake of Devil’s Claw. Tolerability of treatment was rated “good” by 87.4 % of patients which is an important factor in the overall effectiveness of the supplement.  Pain reduction also significantly improved overall quality of life in the physical and emotional aspect (p<0.0001). Based on the results of the study, it is suggested that 480 mg of Devils Claw twice daily is an effective and well-tolerated treatment for arthritis associated pain (4).

Abstracted from “Effectiveness and Safety of  Devil’s Claw Tablets in Patients with General Rheumatic Disorders” published in the September 2007 issue of  Phytotherapy Research.

References:

  1. Hootman JM, et al., Projections of US prevalence of arthritis and associated activity limitations. Arthr Rheum. 2006; CG 54: 226-229.
  2. Sostres, Carlos, et al. “Adverse effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, aspirin and coxibs) on upper gastrointestinal tract.” Best Practice & Research Clinical Gastroenterology 24.2 (2010): 121-132.
  3. Grant L., et al.  A review of the biological and potential therapeutic actions of Harpagophytum procumbens. Phytother Res 21: 199-209.
  4. Warnock, Mary, et al. “Effectiveness and safety of Devil’s Claw tablets in patients with general rheumatic disorders.” Phytotherapy Research 21.12 (2007): 1228-1233.

Arthritis, Devil's Claw