Written by: Charoula Dontopoulos
There is an herb which I have never grown myself, not sure it would adjust to the winters of Ohio, but I have been fascinated with it for a long time.

Its common name is enough to “catch” my interest in it!

Devil’s Claw!

The botanical name is very exciting as well:



That probably wouldn’t mean much to anyone who is not familiar either with Greek or Latin—but as my Greek is excellent (!) I immediately recognized the meaning of It:  The plant that grabs! (Phyto= plant/Harpago=I grab!)

Left Photo by Henri Pidoux at French Wikipedia. Right Photo by Roger Culos

And if you have come into contact with Devil’s Claw, you would agree that it has: clawy leaves:

AND clawy fruit:



Devil’s Claw comes to us from South Africa , Namibia, and Botswana,  where it is native, and a traditional medicinal plant of the different tribes of South Africa, who have used it as a laxative—but mostly for treating inflammatory conditions like arthritis, rheumatism, fever, fibromyalgia,  and pain in general, as well as Diabetes.

Harpagoside is a specific preparation of the plant chemicals which has been known to help with lower back pain, as well as all the above.


Devil’s Claw is approved by the German E-Commission for self use in low back pain and in Osteoarthritis cases. It is however very bitter, so it probably is contraindicated in anyone with gastric issues.


It is also considered as a Digestive, for Fever Reduction, and Migraines.


As an Herbalist (who got into Herbs because of severe issues such as back pain when I was much younger!) I have personally used Devil’s Claw as an Anti-Inflammatory/Pain Relief Tincture, in combination with other herbs, such as Turmeric, Black Cohosh, White Willow, Ginger, & St. Johnswort, with plenty of success.


I originally read a lot about all these plants actually, and decided to make a tincture and try it for myself. I named it my “Anti-Inflammatory” Tincture  (Anti–Inflammatory here meaning plainly Anti-Pain, as Inflammation is the root of all pain!), and it has been a great success!


I must insert here that I personally (and different herbalists have different ideas on this matter) prefer using herbs that work together, rather than single herbs.  I have tried both single herb tinctures AND tinctures with up to (sometimes) 6-8 herbs each, and found the latter very impressive!


So anyway, since I always felt better with its pleasing effects, I also began sharing it with friends and family, then, later, with clients!

I think we all felt great about/because of my “Anti-Inflammatory Tincture!!

And we have, primarily, the wonderful herb Devil’s Claw to thank for this!

Do give it a try!


If you have questions on any of the above herbs and their use, please contact me:

Ask Charoula about Herbs

All answers are posted on our website E-Wellness.com, on the following Friday.

Thanks for reading!

Charoula Dontopoulos
Certified Herbalist
Holistic Health Advisor
BC Polarity Therapy Practitioner


Questions and Answers

Q: If Devil’s Claw is combined, as you suggest, with other herbs such as White Willow and Ginger and St. Johnswort, which are milder and actually help with digestion (I believe), wouldn’t that overcome some of the fear of gastric issues?

A: You make a lot of sense! And yes, if combined with some of the above herbs, it would become less bitter and more appropriate to take even for people with gastric issues.

Q: So you are saying, really, that any sort of pain is brought about by an inflammation, somewhere in the system/body? That would make sense, if I understand it right.

A: Yes, you do understand it right: Inflammation, whether in a joint, or a  body organ like the Liver, or the Stomach, etc., is the beginning, the cause, and the reason we get into trouble! Something we ate, some stress we went through, some anomaly in the general functioning of our system—any of that can begin to fire up an inflammation in us, which, if gone unnoticed for a while, and allowed to grow internally or externally (a wound of some sort etc.), will bring on pain, fever, and other  consequences.

So it is important that we are able to read our system/body etc., and promptly  take the appropriate measures to reverse the situation with the appropriate herbs etc.


Please do consult your Holistic Health Practitioner, and most importantly your Herbalist before you use any herb, whether as a tincture, a tea, or a standardized extract.  Herbs are powerful!!!

I would love to hear more of your questions on any of our blogs, and specifically on any Issues you are wondering about!  Thanks for sending in your questions!

Ask Charoula about Herbs