Devil’s claw is indigenous to the deep, sandy soils of South Africa and Namibia. It is a perennial plant with a single, primary root and numerous storage tubers. Tubers are used by the plant for water storage since there is not a lot of water in the savannas where it grows. There are many oval-shaped stems. It has dark green leaves with white, hairy undersides. A single, reddish-purple flower, shaped like a trumpet appears in spring. The fruit appears after the flower. The name devil’s claw comes from the hooks that cover its fruits. Devil’s claw roots are dried quickly after harvest and usually prepared in alcohol tinctures. Internally, Devil’s Claw was sued by South African Natives as a digestive stimulant due to its bitterness. Externally, poultices of Devil’s Claw were used to aid in the reduction of arthritis pain.
History and Folklore:
The scientific name, Harpagophytum, comes from the Greek harpagos, or grappling hook due to the shape of the fruit. It has long been used by African people as a digestive aid, and as an aid to childbirth.
Cultivation and Harvest:
There is one main root and several tubers that branch off of the main (mother) root. The tubers are the most desired part of the plant. You can harvest the roots and tubers by digging deep in the sand when the plant is thriving. If you harvest later in the fall when the fruit is on, then you can help preserve the plants by allowing the fruit to reseed the area.
Do not use if pregnant or nursing. Devil’s Claw should not be used with blood thinners.
Traditional Herbal Actions:
Anti-inflammatory, Analgesic, Antirheumatic, Cholagogue, Antipyretic
Devil’s Claw, Grapple Plant, Wood Spider, Harpago, Sengaparile (Tswana), Duiwelsklou (Afrikaans)
Tincture Ingredients: Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens)
*These statements have not been verified by the FDA and is only referenced here as a fun fact and/or for historical commentary, is not to be used as medical advice in any way. Consult your doctor before ingesting any herbal product.
None of these items or statements are approved by FDA. Consult your physician before taking any supplement. Do not take herbs or tinctures during pregnancy without consulting your healthcare provider. This product is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. All information here is for entertainment and educational purposes only.