Phytochemistry Reviews

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 47–53 | Cite as

Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens): An Anti-Inflammatory Herb with Therapeutic Potential

  • Gerard McGregorEmail author
  • Bernd Fiebich
  • Andrea Wartenberg
  • Sarah Brien
  • George Lewith
  • Tankred Wegener


Extracts of the secondary roots of the southern African plant, Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) provide a herbal drug with a variety of traditional indications. One area of its use that has become very popular in recent years is in the treatment of inflammatory disorders of the musculoskeletal system and of low back pain. There have been several clinical studies recently published that generally support its use in treating osteoarthritis although more studies are required in order to establish this drug as a definite therapeutic option. Here in this review, the pharmacological properties of Devil’s Claw are reviewed in detail and the clinical evidence is briefly summarised. There is good in vitro and in vivo pharmacological evidence of the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of this drug, although some negative findings have also been reported. Generally, the pharmacological properties of Devil’s Claw is supportive of its therapeutic potential, but more evidence from clinically relevant models, as well as at the cellular and molecular level, should be sought. Such studies may provide evidence in support of additional indications, both traditional and novel. The clinical data on Devil’s Claw is also very promising.


analgesic anti-inflammatory Devil’s Claw Harpagophytum procumbens osteoarthritis 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerard McGregor
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bernd Fiebich
    • 3
    • 4
  • Andrea Wartenberg
    • 2
  • Sarah Brien
    • 5
  • George Lewith
    • 5
  • Tankred Wegener
    • 6
  1. 1.Philipps-University of MarburgMarburgGermany
  2. 2.Pascoe pharmaceutical Preparations GmbHGiessenGermany
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Freiburg Medical SchoolFreiburgGermany
  4. 4.VivaCell Biotechnology GmbHDenzlingenGermany
  5. 5.School of MedicineUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  6. 6.Consulting Herbal Medicinal ProductsRheda-WiedenbrueckGermany

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