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Devil's Claw - not perhaps the cuddliest or most reassuring name to give to a product sold to ease pain but one that comes from the shape of the South African plant's fruit and also how fingers and joints suffering from arthritis can all too often feel.
The active ingredient contained in the capsules comes from the root rather than the fruit but definitely helps my joints when they start hurting. I am not an alternative medicine only person. If I did, I'd have to give up my inhaler and so probably die. I am more than happy to use modern medicine and fill my prescriptions at Boots. But I am also open to using the experience of other cultures of their plants and herbs to supplement and or replace the chemicals I have to take for my varying ailments.
This plant has been used in what is now Namibia and South Africa for much longer than the usual clinical trials, which is actually reassuring given that some side effects do take time to show up. It also gives me an alternative to asprin and ibuprofen, which I have to be careful of due to my asthma and paracetamol which my liver worries about.
It is sold as a pain and fever reliever and is often used here to help deal with arthritis and back-ache. Studies have shown it to more effective than a placebo. It certainly helped ease the sharp and chronic pain I can get when my joints play up.
It is also said to aid digestion, which can be really helpful when conventional painkillers upset it. Though as it does increase stomach acids, it should not be used by those with peptic ulcers or gastritis. Gall stone owners should also be careful. I have a delicate stomach but have experienced no adverse side effects from taking Devil's Claw.
It can interfer with Warfarin and Ticlopidine and anyone taking these should certainly consult their doctor before trying this. Children and those breastfeeding children should avoid the product.
Devil's Claw - perhaps appropriately - cause redness, though it does not do this to side-effect prone me and if it did the pain relief would be worth it.
Reassuringly it is actually in both the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia (for analgesic, sedative and diuretic purposes) and the European Pharmacopoeia. It is also often found in over the counter meds for rhuematism though the advantage of buying these capsules is that you get the full monty of Devil's Claw rather than a fraction of the goodness.
You need to take it twice a day and with water. Morning and evening are, therefore, the ideal times to swallow the capsules. These are suitible for both vegans and vegetarians.
The strong plastic bottle comes with an easy open lid and in a somewhat unecessary cardboard box detailing the product and how to take it. Both can be recycled, though it would be better if they had not used the carboard in the first place.
The biggest downside is the cost. Holland and Barrett sell this in two sizes both in their shops and on their website. 50 capsules cost £12.99 and 100 a steep £23.45 - considerably more than generic paracetamol from Boots. That price differential cannot be ignored and I am taking two stars away from the five I would otherwise give the product because of it.
But I am giving it three stars as when my knuckles start to hurt or the damge to my knee, ankle, wrist and back play up taking these for a few days will usually stop the pain and let me move and sleep and that makes the investment worth it. And my liver loves me for not making it metabalise even more paracetamol than my headaches and sinuses usually demand.
All in all, it is expensive, but being pain free is worth it.
When it comes to alternative medicines I am a bit of a dabbler really. Having a whole list of illnesses and plenty of medication from my Doctor to keep it in check I do like to take supplements to see if they help too as medication doesn't always help me as much as I feel it should.
Devils Claw is something I was made aware of a while ago now in Holland & Barrett. I suffer with sciatica and a lump in my spine and at the time was recovering from whiplash so I was in a pretty bad way and I got talking to one of the fabulous shop assistants and explained that really, I could do with something to help ease my aches and pains. She directed me to Holland & Barretts Devil Claw gel or these capsules and at the time the gel was on offer so I opted for that and to save a few pennies. Since then I use the gel daily and have got through lots and lots of tubes of the stuff and even got a couple of tubes of it for Christmas gifts from people as I'm so well known for using it and telling people to buy it!
One present I asked for from my bestmate/flatmate for Christmas when quizzed about what I would like was these capsules. Knowing I like the gel so much I had high hopes for the capsules too but at £6.19 for a 100 capsules or £10.79 for 200 (these at the time of writing this review are actually on offer and cheaper than buying 100 capsules at £5.39 by the way) I always just went for what I knew helped me and that was the gel, so I was really pleased to see these in my Christmas stocking as it meant I could try them without spending my own cash on them! Result!
The capsules come in a dark green, transparent, plastic tub with a flip top green lid to the top of it. Around the tub there is a light green and white label and on the front of that there is a photograph of a devils claw and we are told that they are Good 'N' Natural, Select Herbals, Devil's Claw, 510mg, Natural Herb Food Supplement and of course the amount of caspules is written on there to (As I have stated there are 2 sizes to choose from). Other information on the tub includes being told a bit about the brand and capsules, directions for use are given as is nutritional values, ingredients, allergy advice and contact details for Holland & Barrett. The packaging is nice enough, though informative? Not really it doesn't say on the tub at all what they are meant to help with but then vitamins, minerals and supplements very rarely do to be fair!
First off lets talk about Devil's claw shall we? Sounds exotic but what is it? Well if your thinking that question I may be able to help! Devil's claw is a plant native to Southern Africa and it is also known by other names which are Harpagophytum procumbens, Grapple Plant and Wood Spider. It gets its name devil's claw (which is what it is most commonly called out of most out of the names I have just listed) because it has little things that look like hooks all over it. The active ingredients in devil's claw are believed to be iridoid glycosides called harpagosides, which are found in the secondary root and thats what is meant to help relieve our symptoms.
It is meant to be able to help with fever, rheumatoid arthritis, skin conditions, and conditions involving the gallbladder, pancreas, stomach and kidneys (for that most commonly nowadays though drinking it as tea as you can with these) to help aid digestion and for back pain, neck pain, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and tendinitis (take them as capsules). There have been the object of numerous different studies carried out to see the effectiveness of this plant extract on the symptoms I have listed however like anything its swings and roundbouts as to whether they work or not really. You need to be careful when drinking or taking these as they have been known to cause allergic reactions in people and some studies have reported stomach upset, a sensation of fullness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and headaches!
These capsules can be either swallowed whole or you can put the powder from the see-through plastic they come in into hot water and drink it as tea. The recommended dosage for these is to take one capsule two to four times a day, preferably with meals or as I have just mentioned have that dose in water. Basically its up to you how to take them of course!
I prefer to simply swallow mine and get them gone. The outer plastic is full of light brown powder, they are large but plastic coated so they slide down the throat with total ease and I take the maxium dose of four a day. I'm not keen on drinking this mixture, it just makes a clear hot water looking drink with a slight bitter taste to it and to my way of thinking why draw the job out when I just wanna live my life and get on with it lol!
Now I really hoped these would help me in many ways. I have neck ache/back and spine ache, I have pains running up and down my legs all of the time and a really sore feeling achilles heel. Also I thought these, as they are a natural appetite surpressant and are meant to help aid digestion may help with my eating disorder binges (I wanted less of them!) and I also suffer with kidney issues and get stones far to often stuck inside of me!
However as easy as they are to take, I have taken these for a few weeks now (I bought another tub myself to continue on with the process in the hope they would work after taking them a whiile) and I can rather honestly say that although I don't think I have had any adverse side effects at all from these, I haven't felt any benefit from taking them either! Nothing at all. I can't say my pains are better as they are not and not in any way shape or form either and my eating disorder is the same and ok I have no kidney stones pop up but then I don't know one would have without them either!
Sadly these have been a waste of a time experiment wise for me. I feel no better just lighter in my purse!
Only available in Holland & Barrett stores and not a good remedy for me personally!