Herb to Know: Devil's Claw

This wild African plant combats joint pain.



  • Photo by ©2011 Steven Foster

  • Photo courtesy Henri Pidoux at fr.wikipedia

Devil's Claw
• Genus:
Harpagophytum procumbens
• Harpagophytum means hook plant in Greek.
• Procumbens means prostrate in Latin.
• Also known as grapple plant or wood spider
• Grows in the warm African savanna or grasslands

• Try These: Beat Joint Pain With These Products 

Devil’s claw. You only have to take one look at the grasping fingers extending from its fruit to understand the name. Despite the ominous sound of its common name, Harpagophytum procumbens is an attractive perennial valued for its healing powers.

See an image of devil's claw growing. 



This member of the sesame seed family can be found in southern Africa, where it grows wild in the savannas. Its grayish-green leaves trail the sandy terrain of the Kalahari Desert, sometimes reaching a length of several feet. It produces red, purple or pink trumpet-shaped flowers from November through April, and its flat, oval fruit produces dark brown or black seeds. However, it’s the plant’s roots and potato-like tubers that are valued the most and harvested for medicinal purposes.

How to Use Devil’s Claw

For centuries, Africans have used devil’s claw to treat ailments of all kinds: liver disorders, malaria, diabetes, fever, high cholesterol, toxins in the blood, and the pain of pregnancy, arthritis and rheumatism. Externally, it has been used in ointments to help heal ulcers, boils, wounds and skin rashes. An early 20th-century German, G. A. Menhert, reported witnessing African tribesmen using devil’s claw for insect bites and stomach ailments.



Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Get the latest on Natural Health and Sustainable Living with Mother Earth News!

Mother Earth News

Your friends at Mother Earth Living are committed to natural health and sustainable living. Unfortunately, the financial impact of COVID-19 has challenged us to find a more economical way to achieve this mission. We welcome you to our sister publication Mother Earth News. What you sought in the pages of Mother Earth Living can be found in Mother Earth News. For over 50 years, “The Original Guide to Living Wisely” has focused on organic gardening, herbal medicine, real food recipes, and sustainability. We look forward to going on this new journey with you and providing solutions for better health and self-sufficiency.

The impact of this crisis has no doubt affected every aspect of our daily lives. We will strive to be a useful and inspiring resource during this critical time and for years to come.

Best wishes,
Your friends at Mother Earth Living and Mother Earth News

Save Money & a Few Trees!

By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of Mother Earth News for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Classifieds