Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the UK. It initially affects the smooth cartilage lining of the joint – this makes movement more difficult than usual, leading to pain and stiffness. Although the condition is incurable, making certain lifestyle tweaks can help to reduce the severity of symptoms. Increasing evidence suggests natural remedies may offer people respite.
Research supports the case for taking Devil’s claw supplements.
Devil’s claw, scientifically known as Harpagophytum procumbens, is an African plant mainly used to ease joint pain.
According to the Arthritis Foundation: “Harpagoside, the active ingredient in devil’s claw, appears to reduce pain and inflammation in joints.”
The health benefits are potentially manifold, as Holland Barrett reported, the European Medicines Agency says that devil’s claw can be used to relieve minor joint pain and mild digestive disorders, such as bloating or flatulence.
“As a traditional herbal medicine, it’s used for the relief of backache, rheumatic or muscular pain, and general aches and pains in the muscles and joints,” said Holland and Barrett.
Some studies suggest stomach acid may counteract benefits, so take the supplement between meals when less stomach acid is released, notes the health body.
The evidence is promising. In 2002, Phytomedicine published a study of 227 people with non-specific low back pain or osteoarthritis of the knee or hip treated with devil’s claw extract.
After eight weeks of taking 60 mg daily, between 50 and 70 percent of people reported improvement in pain, mobility and flexibility.
A study published in the journal Phytomedicine in 2002 found that patients with hip or knee arthritis taking a supplement containing devil’s claw over eight weeks saw a 54 per cent and 39 per cent improvement respectively in their pain levels.
Commenting on the growing body of evidence, Versus Arthritis, the UK’s leading arthritis research charity, said: “Evidence suggests that devil’s claw may be as effective as conventional medicines for osteoarthritis.”
Devil’s claw can be found in teas, tablets and capsules.
It’s also available in beauty products such as herbal bath soaks, gels and massage oils, says Holland Barrett.
“While there is no set upper limit, the European Medicines Agency guidelines do not advise exceeding 800mcg to 1g of devil’s claw a day,” cautioned the health site.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, people that are pregnant, have gallstones or ulcers, or are taking an antacid or blood thinners should rule out taking the supplement.
“It can affect heart rate and may interfere with cardiac, blood-thinning and diabetes medication. It may also cause diarrhoea,” warned the health body.
Ginger extract may also help to ease joint pain. One study found that highly concentrated doses of ginger extract were effective in treating people with osteoarthritis of the knee.