Pain relieving benefits of Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens)

Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) Native to southern Africa, gets its name from the tiny hooks that cover its fruit. Historically, devil’s claw has been used to treat pain, liver and kidney problems, fever, and malaria. It has also been used in ointments to heal sores, boils, and other skin problems around the world.

Devil’s claw was introduced to Europe in the early 1900s, where the dried roots have been used to restore appetite, relieve heartburn, and reduce pain and inflammation.

Today, devil’s claw is used widely in Germany and France to fight inflammation or relieve arthritis pain, headache, and low back pain.

Medicinal Uses and Indications

Osteoarthritis

Several studies show that taking devil’s claw for 8 to 12 weeks can reduce pain and improve physical functioning in people with osteoarthritis. One 4-month study of 122 people with knee and hip osteoarthritis compared devil’s claw and a leading European medication for pain relief. The people who took devil’s claw had as much pain relief as the people who took the medication. Those who took devil’s claw had fewer side effects and needed fewer pain relievers throughout the study.

An analysis of 14 studies using devil’s claw to treat arthritis found that higher quality studies showed devil’s claw may relieve joint pain. And a review of 12 studies using devil’s claw for treating arthritis or low back pain found that devil’s claw was at least moderately effective for arthritis of the spine, hip, and knee.

 

Back and neck pain

Preliminary evidence suggests that devil’s claw may help relieve neck and low back pain. In a small study of 63 people with mild-to-moderate back, neck, or shoulder pain, taking a standardized extract of devil’s claw for 4 weeks provided moderate relief from muscle pain. In a larger study of 197 men and women with chronic low back pain, those who took devil’s claw every day for a month said they had less pain and needed fewer painkillers than those who took placebo.

A 54-week study compared 38 people who took devil’s claw with 35 people who took the pain reliever rofecoxib (Vioxx). For these people, devil’s claw worked as well as Vioxx to relieve pain. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took Vioxx off the market because it increases the risk of heart problems.

 

Other uses

Many professional herbalists suggest that devil’s claw can help treat upset stomach, loss of appetite, headaches, allergies, and fever. Topical preparations of devil’s claw are also applied to the skin to heal sores, ulcers, boils, and skin lesions. However, there are not any definitive scientific studies that show using devil’s claw to treat these conditions is effective.

Precautions

The use of herbs is a time-honored approach for strengthening the body and treating disease. However, herbs can have side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs under the supervision of a health care provider qualified in the field of botanical medicine.

If taken at the recommended dose for a short time, health practitioners consider devil’s claw non-toxic and safe, with few side effects. High doses can cause mild stomach problems in some people. Researchers do not know if it would be safe to take devil’s claw for a long time.

People with stomach ulcers, duodenal ulcers, or gallstones should not take devil’s claw. Studies show taking devil’s claw may vause gastrointestinal side effects.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take devil’s claw since studies in these populations are lacking.

People with heart disease, high blood pressure, or low blood pressure should ask their doctors before taking devil’s claw.

 

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5 natural alternatives to painkillers

When you experience chronic pain, you may try just about any remedy that will lessen the debilitating physical pain. Multiple trips to the health store will fill your cupboards with bottles of supplements thinking that you will avoid more trips to your pain management doctor. 

Did you know that more than 1 in 10 adults suffer from some form of  chronic pain. To get through the day, many resort to taking painkillers – some of which are powerful drugs that interfere with the nerve signals responsible for perceiving pain. Surprisingly, in 2015, more adults used prescription painkillers than tobacco, cigars and cigarettes combined.

Painkillers powerful strength

Painkillers vary in strength for different levels of pain. For example the prescription fentanyl – an opioid – is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine. In addition, drug morphine is up to 360 times more powerful than aspirin (acetaminophen ).

Opioid overdoses accounted for more than 42,000 U.S. deaths in 2016, more than any previous year on record. An estimated 40% of opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription opioid. In most recent years, opioid addiction has resulted in a deadly drug epidemic in both Canada and the U.S. Currently, Canada ranks as the world’s second largest consumer of prescription opioids.

Drug overdose deaths in the United States rose 4.6% in 2019 to 70,980, including 50,042 involving opioids, according to preliminary data released yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released preliminary data last week that suggests U.S. drug overdose deaths have fallen for the first time in 20 years. There were an estimated 68,557 deaths from overdoses in the U.S. in 2018 copared to a preliminary figure of 72,224 in 2017. The 5.6% decline marks the first drop in overdose deaths since 1999.

5 pain management options

Many pain sufferers use painkillers shows an urgent need for effective and safe alternatives for managing chronic pain. Fortunately, several natural alternatives exist and may help control daily pain. Below are some pain management options that can be incorporated into your lifestyle:

  1. Acupuncture. Acupuncture is an integrative health modality that applies Traditional Chinese Medicine. Licensed practitioners insert very thin needles into the skin to stimulate specific points on the body. Acupuncture has been found to be effective in reducing chronic pain for many health conditions.
  2. Change your diet. It may sound questionable, but what you eat has a significant influence on your pain levels. Inflammatory foods high in arachidonic acid such as red meat, dairy, eggs, and other animal fats should be on your radar. – These foods release of a variety of  substances in the body that produce pain or inflammation – Try to eat foods that are high in omega 3 fatty acids into your diet, like avocados, nuts and seeds, chia, and green leafy vegetables, all of which have been found to help lower inflammation.
  3. Exercises. Studies have found that people who exercise daily are able to better manage their pain than those who don’t. And, keeping the weight off by regularly exercising can relieve pressure on the joints.
  4. Get symptomatic relief. The root of Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) contains powerful analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties and has traditionally been used for joint and muscle pain of all types.
  5. De-stress. Chronic stress leads to inflammation in the body, which can contribute to pain, and vice versa. Relaxation exercises such as meditation, tai-chi, and breathing exercises may help reduce stress and pain.

If you suffer from chronic pain or find yourself taking painkillers, it is important to work with your primary healthcare provider to find a treatment plan that works best for your pain.

References

https://nccih.nih.gov/news/press/08112015
https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/fentany
https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FFR2-2015/NSDUH-FFR2-2015.htm
https://www.nhms.org/sites/default/files/Pdfs/Opioid-Comparison-Chart-Prescriber-Letter-2012.pdf
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22965186
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16805330
http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/features/exercise-relief#1