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04 Jun
Posted By: Anastasiya Times Read: 1167

LATIN NAME: Harpagophytum Procumbens

COMMON NAMES: Martinia, Devil’s Claw, Harpagophytum prostrate, Forest Spider, African field Buttercup.

ORIGIN: South Africa

BOTANICAL INFORMATION: Devil's Claw is a perennial plant, genus Garpagophytum (Harpagophytum), belonging to the Martinian family (Martyniaceae), previously - the Sesame family or Pedal. The family includes 5 genera and approximately 17 species. Devil's Claw is a perennial plant with hollow, strongly branching stems that extend along the ground. They can reach up to 100 cm in length. Large, tuber-like thickening are formed on the roots of the plant. The leaves are long, large, up to 20 cm in length, with large teeth along the edge. All parts of the plant are covered with sticky downiness. During the rainy season, aboveground shoots can grow up to 1 m in length. Devil's Claw blooms with single bright red, purple flowers, which are formed in the axils of the leaves. The fruit of the Devil's Claw is a box with stiff, long branched outgrowths that have hooks bent back, hence the name of the plant originated. The young fruits of the plant are oblong and fleshy. As they ripen, they become black-woody, narrowed, ribbed. After drying, the fruit of the Devil's Claw splits into two sharp, curved Claws - hooks. The seeds of the plant are flat, brown, black or coal in color and of elongated shape. Sharp Claw-like outgrowths on the seed box are a kind of adaptation of the plant for dispersal. In nature, they serve to cling to the fur of wild mammals. Animals shake off the fruits, breaking them down with their hooves, thereby promoting the germination and spread of new young plants.

CHEMICAL COMPOSITION: Devil's Claw is the source of a number of important macro-and microelements: calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, tin, potassium, cobalt, selenium, sodium, zinc. The devil's Claw’s root contains iridoid glycosides (harpagid, harpagoside, procumbin, verbascoside), triterpenes, quinones, flavonoids (luteolin, kempferol), fats, phytosterols, gavinon, phenolic acids (caffeic acid, cinnamic acid), aromatic acids, carbohydrates, oleanolic acid and alkaloids.

ACTIONS: It is assumed that Devil’s Claw can produce a number of positive actions on the human’s body, such as alterant, analgesic, hepatoprotective, lithotriptic, nervine, antiarthritic, antidiabetic, sedative, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, stimulant, immunity booster, autirheumatic, brain enhancer, cardio tonic, circulatory, tonic, digestive and diuretic.


  • A number of scientific researches proved that the use of this plant has a positive effect in diseases of the joints of the degenerative-dystrophic nature of the chronic form: arthritis, deforming osteoarthrosis, osteochondrosis of the spine. The active substances in the composition of the plant improve the mobility of joints, reduce swelling and relieve pain.
  • Lowers cholesterol. Devil's Claw has the ability to reduce the absorption of cholesterol from the intestines. It contains beta sterols. These substances are not absorbed from the intestine into the bloodstream and prevent the absorption of bad cholesterol.
  • Wounds. The herb may be topically used to treat wounds, burns, ulcers, and other skin damages.
  • A remedy for migraines. The causes of these headaches are still not exactly known, but the analgesic properties of the herb make it possible to prevent migraine attacks.
  • Water decoctions of plants have long been used as an excellent means to increase appetite, it helped with digestive disorders, colitis and constipation.
  • The inhibitory effect of the components of the plant extract on the mediators of the inflammatory process has also been revealed. Devil's Claw has pronounced antimicrobial activity.
  • It can also be used during pains in muscles and joints, sports injuries, sciatic nerve neuralgia, neuritis, neuralgia, catarrhal diseases, inflammatory diseases of the reproductive organs, skin diseases.

CONTRAINDICATIONS AND POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS: Possessing many useful properties, the Devil's Claw has some contraindications:

  • Devil's Claw is not recommended for use in case of stomach ulcers, duodenal ulcers, gastralgia, heartburn;
  • The active substances in the plant have a stimulating effect on the muscles of the uterus, which can lead to miscarriage or premature birth. Thus, it is not recommended to use during pregnancy;
  • The use of the plant is contraindicated for nursing mothers;
  • People with heart problems, high or low blood pressure should be cautious when consuming Devil’s Claw;
  • Patients with diabetes should be aware of the fact that Devil’s Claw can lower blood sugar levels;


 In some regions, fragrant Devil’s Claw is grown as a decorative culture and to produce horned boxes, which can be used as an original amulet.

The natives of South Africa use the plant for diseases of the gall bladder, kidney and liver.

Fruit boxes were used by the Arizona aborigines to protect them from enemies.

The Indians laid out a lot of horrific type of baskets, woven from the fruits of the plant, on the trails, masking their terrible structures under the leaves. The sharp outgrowth-hooks of the fruits of the Devil's Claw caused unbearable pain, penetrating the skin of human feet or piercing the body of an animal.

The name "devil's Claw" is derived from the appearance of the fruit of the plant, since the fruits of the harpagophytum have two straight long spikes and many oblong hook-shaped protrusions. Garpagofitum from the Greek. harpage - "hook" and phyton; lat procumbens - in translation - "lying", "adjoining".

*Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.


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