It’s a herbaceous, perennial, vivacious plant with a root that goes underground around a meter. The root is divided into two types: primary and secondary. The primary root is very long and the brown or reddish secondary roots come out from it and are formed by tubercles. The tubercles are 6 cm diameter of up to 20 cm long reservoirs. They extend down under 0.3-1 m in a diameter of 1.5 m around the plant, which makes it difficult to cut. They accumulate up to 95% of water during the rainy season in order to survive in the desert. The stem trail upon the ground (procumbent), might go up to 150 cm long. Leaves are opposite or alternate, petiolate and lobed. At the axil in the leaves the drupaceous flower is located. Flowers are up to 5 cm, tubular or trumpet-shaped of a violet-red color. Fruits are of 15 cm in ligneous capsule and have sharp hook-shaped excrescences. It belongs to the Pedaliaceae (Bignoniaceae) family.
It’s native of South Africa and tropical zones, especially in red sand regions that surround Kalahari Desert, Namibia, and Madagascar. It’s located at roadsides and water spots. Devil’s claw blooming varies depending on its location. Harvesting, when for medicinal purposes are of the secondary roots. These should be dried and segmented in circular irregular slices. It shows a reddish-brown color with longitudinal crease.
Secondary tubular roots, of bitter taste, characterized by their radial and concentric macroscopic groove.
- Rheumatic disorders (arthrosis, arthritis, lumbago, sciatic, etc.), chronic rheumatic processes of different etiology, fibromyalgia, non-specific muscle and back pains, osteoarthritic hip and knee pain, traumatisms, tendinitis, bursitis, fibrositis, epicondylitis, neuralgias.
- Digestive disorders: loss of appetite, dyspepsia, digestive spasms, constipation, enteritis, duodenal diverticulitis, hepatobiliary dyskinesia, cholecystitis, etc.
- Post-surgery inflammation and edema.
- Prostatitis, prostate adenoma, oophoritis, etc.
- Increased cholesterol.
- In folk medicine it’s been used in: constipation, anorexia, migraine, allergic reactions, febrile diseases (teas), child delivery.
- Painful and inflammatory conditions of the muscles or articulations (sprains, contusions).
- Skin inflammatory processes (ointment, fresh root)- psoriasis, dermatitis, cutaneous injuries, cutaneous ulcers, etc.
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Wegener T. Degenerative diseases of the musculoskeletal system--overview of current clinical studies of Devil's Claw (Harpagophyti radix). Wien Med Wochenschr. 2002;152(15-16):389-92.
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