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Devil's claw is a native of South Africa, so named because of its rather peculiar appearance. Its large tuberous roots are used medicinally, after being chopped up and dried in the sun for 3 days.
Native South Africans used the herb to reduce pain and fever and stimulate digestion. European colonists brought devil's claw back home, where it became a popular treatment for arthritis.
In modern Europe, devil's claw is used to treat all types of joint pain, including osteoarthritis , rheumatoid arthritis , and gout . Devil's claw is also used for soft tissue (muscle-related or tendon-related) pain.
Like other bitter herbs, devil's claw is said to improve appetite and relieve mild stomach upset.
Devil's claw appears to be safe, at least for short-term use. In one study, no evidence of toxicity emerged at doses many times higher than recommended. 1 In a review of 28 clinical trials dating back 20 years, researchers found no instances where adverse effects were more common than those associated with a placebo. Minor adverse effects, most gastrointestinal in nature, occurred in roughly 3% of patients. 2 Devil's claw is not recommended for people with ulcers. A 6-month open study of 630 people with arthritis showed no side effects other than occasional mild gastrointestinal distress. According to one case report, the herb devil's claw might increase the potential for bleeding while taking warfarin . 3 Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women,...