Living with arthritis often means living with chronic aches and pains that prevent you from being as active as you used to be. One such therapy currently being studied is devil's claw, and researchers are hoping it may be the answer for arthritis patients.
What Is Devil's Claw?
Devil's claw (Harpagophytum procubens) is a type of plant that is native to Africa, where it has been consumed for centuries as a natural herbal remedy. The reason it's referred to as "devil's claw" is because of the appearance of the fruit this plant bears -- it's covered with little hooks so it becomes attached to animals that will help spread its seeds. The fruit, however, isn't used to make medicine, but rather the tubers and roots of the plant.
Devil's Claw for Arthritis
The type of arthritis devil's claw has shown the ability to help with is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is considered degenerative arthritis, which means it's the result of a past injury or long-term wear and tear on the joint(s). It's the most common form of arthritis. According to The Arthritis Society, more than 10 percent of Canadian adults are affected by this type of arthritis.
In recent studies, a daily dosage of devil's claw helped reduce the pain associated with this condition, allowing patients to move more freely and comfortably, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, based on a review of all published research. Devil's claw contains compounds known as iroid glycosides, which help reduce inflammation and swelling in the joints, which are characteristic of osteoarthritis. It was shown to be especially beneficial for those with arthritis in the knees.
Devil's claw's anti-inflammatory benefits have also been shown to help relieve headaches as well as back pain. It has yet to be determined if devil's claw is beneficial in any way for those with rheumatoid arthritis.
Treatment with Devil's Claw
Devil's claw supplements are available in varying strengths in both liquid and capsule form. Liquid extracts and tinctures (which contain alcohol) can be added to a beverage like tea to make taking them easier. The most common side effect of taking devil's claw is diarrhea.
More research is needed to confirm the exact actions of devil's claw within the body in order to determine a standard recommended dosage. For now, it's not advised for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding to take devil's claw. Individuals with chronic medical conditions, like heart disease or diabetes, shouldn't take it without a doctor's recommendation and supervision. Talking to your doctor before adding any new supplement to your routine is crucial for those on prescription or over-the-counter medications as well.
Other Tips for Managing Arthritis
Be sure to stay in communication with your doctor about any changes in your arthritis symptoms, as they can help you determine the best treatment. Here are some additional ways to manage arthritis pain naturally:
Exercise daily with activities that don't put too much strain on the joints, like walking or swimming.
Gently stretch to help yourself stay flexible, or try yoga.
Try relaxation techniques like meditation or aromatherapy.
Eat a balanced diet rich in antioxidants, which can help combat inflammation. Turmeric and ginger are two spices that have amazing anti-inflammatory benefits.
A natural anti-inflammatory for osteoarthritis may be the answer you've been looking for. Give devil's claw a try at eVitamins Canada and check back for all the latest health news. Have a great weekend!