Devil’s claw was first bought to the attention of the western world by European colonists in South East Africa during the 18th century.
Of course, it wasn’t “discovered” at that time.

The plant has a long history of use among the peoples of Africa and has been widely used to treat pain, malaria, fever, kidney and liver problems, and is also used in ointment form to treat skin problems.

The antiarthritic and anti-inflammatory benefits of Devil’s claw come from compounds called  iridoid glycosides, and are mainly behind its growing reputation in the arthritis community.
A reputation I think it deserves, because it really does work.

The emergence of devil’s claw onto the internet has made it widely available both online and on the high street. Being inexpensive and easy to take (you can buy capsules, tinctures, and liquid extracts) has only increased the clamor for this effective natural arthritis remedy.

Devil’s claw and disease

Devil’s claw can be used to treat a number of ailments including:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Gout
  • Bursitis
  • Tendonitis
  • Loss of appetite
  • Digestive disorders.

The German commission has approved devils claw as a “non prescription medicine” for relieving:

  • Arthritis
  • Lower back pain
  • Knee pain
  • Hip pain

Does it work?

The simple answer is yes! However, everyone is different and some people report mixed results.
I find devil’s claw beneficial for reducing inflammation, but that is just my personal experience.  Some users I have talked to swear by it and use it daily, others find it less effective.

To settle this argument we have to look to science for the answer.

Evidence from some studies suggests devil’s claw is as effective as conventional medicines (Vioxx) for managing symptoms of osteoarthritis and other conditions.

Truth is some people react differently to different substances and devils claw is no exception. This is simply because every body is different, and some people have more going on with their condition(s).

Due to the scientific evidence backing Devil’s claw it is a good bet it will be of some benefit.
Despite the 
conflicting reviews on performance we have concrete evidence that devil’s claw contains chemical compounds which inhibit inflammation. There is no doubt about it, we also have the blessing of a German medical body.

Devil’s claw inhibits NF-kappaB activation

The action of devil’s claw isn’t fully understood, but recent work has revealed the root extracts are responsible for blocking several important inflammatory pathways.

The most potent active ingredient is harpagoside- the well known anti inflammatory inhibitor of NF-kappaB activation.
Harpagoside has been shown to inhibit the expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS,) and to reduce lipopolysaccharide-induced mRNA levels. All markers of or precursors to inflammation.

Of most interest for us is the powerful role harpagoside plays in the suppression of NF-kB activation.  This is thought to provide the clearest evidence of devil’s claws anti inflammatory power, and this is the pathway science has studied the most.

How do I use mine?

I like to use Devil’s claw as a reserve firefighter. On call and ready to attack when my regular “A team” of inflammation firefighters are exhausted.
Inflammation is a tricky thing to pin down, and sometimes it’s good practice to keep a remedy or two in reserve for when the inevitable “bad day” arrives.

Using supplements and herbs daily can lessen their effectiveness, so I like to rotate them and use as many different combinations and plants as I can find.

Devil’s claw is one of the healing treasures I keep aside” just in case.” It really can help you out of a tight spot, but please be aware that it can take time to be effective.

Some people who feel great benefit take devils claw all the time. I guess that choice depends on your budget, and willingness to constantly load one supplement above the choice of eating a wide and varied anti arthritis diet.

There is no judgment there, but as always you should try to use a wide variety of products and keep rotating their use. Just because one supplement or method works doesn’t mean you should stop trying different things.

Keeping some “fire fighters” in reserve for those days or times when you just can’t shift the inflammation gives you the option to unleash more power when it’s needed. That is the time when I unleash the devil on inflammation.

The game of anti-inflammatory Ker-Plunk

Inflammation can be very subtle and difficult to overcome, but there’s lots you can do to undermine it.

Some of you will remember the “ball drop” game Ker-Plunk. This giant mess of straws suspending the steel ball bearing in a clear tube, it  seems solid enough at first.  Pull the straws out of the tower at the beginning of the game and nothing seems to happen to the ball?

That is how inflammation is for many.
A big tangled mess which doesn’t seem to shift the ball (inflammation) no matter which straws you pull.
It takes practice, patience, observation and skill to win, but it can be done! Unfortunately, most people just don’t pull enough straws, or they start with way too many straws in the first place.

What I mean is this-If you start with less straws (sources of inflammation) you have less work to do to get to your goal.
Devil’s claw is a multiple straw puller! It acts on multiple inflammatory pathways (COX-2, iNOS, lipopolysaccharide-induced mRNA ) and removes them.

Taking devil’s claw may not drop the ball (inflammation) for you every time, but what if you had less inflammation in the first place.
Eating a plant based diet can give you have a greater chance of devil’s claw being effective.
If you use it in combination with good lifestyle habits you maximise its potential by removing a whole host of other complications that cause inflammation.
The same goes for all products, foods, herbs, anti-inflammatories, drugs. If you create less inflammation, you need less product to reduce or eliminate it.

How much  You Take Devil’s Claw?


A common daily dose usually contain 2500 mg of the plant. This is the average dose you will find is suggested by the manufacturers and is referred to in most of the academic studies.

I have tried doubling the dose and taking two of these simultaneously, but it didn’t seem to have any extra effects, and is considered to be dangerous in some people.
It didn’t seem to help me, but I didn’t feel any negative affects either.

I keep Devil’s claw around and take it to help me vary my supplement schedule.  If I have more inflammation I tend to use something else like serrapeptase.

Why Devil’s?

The name devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) isn’t at all sinister. It got its name from the tiny hooks that cover its fruit.
And since this converstaion is about Devil’s…. I find it appropriate to remind everyone that the very best way to combat inflammation is to remove the four “white devils,” sugar, white flour, salt, and dairy from our diets.

Avoiding white devil’s and inflammation before it starts is a way better approach to auto immune disease than taking any herbal supplements or pills in the long term.

Conclusions on my experiences with Devil’s claw

Over the years I have tried Devils claw in many different combinations and inflammatory situations.
My recorded journals and experience show me that devils claw is a good inflammation fighter, but it doesn’t have the sufficient power to fully clear my system of widespread inflammation.

I have to say during my worst experiences of inflammation devils claw didn’t seem to have a massive effect on inflammation or pain.  it would be unfair to judge devils claw on that assessment alone because I had a staggering amount of inflammation at that time and nothing would shift it.
I was  highly toxic and full of the wrong types of foods, not to mention a rampant new disease.

My continued use of devils claw is a strong enough indication that I get benefit from this supplement, and to this day I always keep some around.
Devil’s claw isn’t my number one buy or my number one anti inflammatory weapon, you may have a different experience, but It’s not that weapon for me?

Devil’s claw isn’t necessarily a go to supplement for instant relief either, it’s beneficial effects are more often felt when taken over a long period of time.
Many of the studies for this and other herbal remedies seem to show a gradual build of efficacy. This means we must use use them in a way that allows them to build in our system without becoming toxic.  but also in sufficient quantity to allow then to be beneficial.

Final thoughts

As much as we know when we have massive inflammation it can be equally difficult to detect small changes in the reduction of inflammation.

I mean, if you can’t feel something is happening how do you know if a supplement is affecting the problem? Simple answer is that you don’t, but if you keep a food diary and log all of your supplement taking you will soon see a path to lower inflammation.

Devil’s claw is on my path to lower inflammation and despite it’s slow acting effects and inability to stop massive inflammation, I still consider it to be a vital component in my overall arthritis treatment mix.

Put simply, it can stop the early rumblings of inflammation when used with the right foods and in combination with other supplements.


In some cases devil’s claw can cause serious side-effects and should be avoided.  If you are pregnant, have gallstones, ulcers, or take diabetes medication it is advised that you seek your doctors opinion before taking devil’s claw.

There have been cases of abnormal heart rhythm, and bleeding, along with these less serious side-effects:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Rashes
  • Stomach upsets

Interactions have also been reported with anticoagulants, painkillers, heart drugs (including digoxin,) and stomach acid drugs.



One thought on “Devil’s claw inhibits NF-kappaB activation

  1. Jonn Prezzo says:

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