Devil's claw was traditionally used by tribes in sounthern Africa and it has been adopted in modern western herbalism for pain management and for digestive disorders to a lesser degree.
The root contains a variety of phytochemicals, and in particular the iridoid glycosides (harpagosides), that possess antiinflammatory action. They work by inhibiting multiple enzymes involved in inflammation including inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). Its anlagesic properties may improve opioid analgesic efficacy thus reducing dependecy for pain management. Devil's claw is primarily used to dcrease pain associated with osteoarthritis and low back pain and is supported by research. Also it appears to inhibit degradation of the cartilage therefore possibly playing a role in slowing the progression in joint degeneration and the development of arthritis.
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