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Harpagophytum or devil’s claw: a natural anti-inflammatory

What is Harpagophytum?

The harpagophyte, devil’s claw or devil’s claw refers to Harpagophytum procumbers which is a creeping plant originating in the savannas of Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.

The name “devil’s nail” comes from its shape and the fact that the fruits of this plant are attached to animals that pass by so that the seeds can be distributed throughout the territory. But it is in the root and tubers that medicinal effects are found.

The active constituents of this plant are iridoids, namely harpagoside and harpagido but it also has flavonoids and phytosterols among other compounds.

It is to the active compounds that the anti-inflammatory action is due. Harpagoside and other iridoid glycosides act to reduce inflammatory mediators such as COX 2, TNF-alpha and Interleukin-6, a function that is also carried out when we take anti-inflammatory medication.

What is it for?

Harpagophytum extract is anti-inflammatory and its best effects are at the joint level, especially in cases of osteoarthritis. Scientific studies reveal a reduction in pain, resulting from a reduction in inflammation.

It is described that there may be a decrease in the intake of anti-inflammatory drugs since joint pain is relieved. Less relevant effects are also found in the relief of migraines, increased appetite, improvement of digestion, muscle pain and even improvement of the skin when used directly .

Before taking it, inform yourself well. Confirm that you are not taking medication that could interact with the supplement.

Some drugs are specifically broken down in the liver and may be metabolized more slowly during Harpagophytum supplementation, thus enhancing their desired and unwanted effects.


  • Drugs metabolized by Cytochrome P450 2C19 (CYP2C19) – examples: omeprazole and other gastric protectors, diazepam;
  • Drugs metabolized by Cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) – examples: anticoagulants, Voltaren;
  • Drugs metabolized by Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) – examples: Lovastatin, Nizoral.

What dosages?

  • For osteoarthritis it is suggested to use about 2.5g/day of Harpagophytum. Supplements of this strength will have about 50-60 mg of harpagoside and 80-90 mg of total iridoid glycosides.
  • For back pain: A supplement with 50-100mg of harpagoside will be most suitable.
  • For relief of back pain or pain in any part of the body from osteoarthritis, Harpagophytum seems to be a very viable natural option and is a way to escape the side effects of anti-inflammatory medication.

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