Devil’s Claw forms the common name for a relatively small genus of hardy plants which also comprise a unique part of the sesame family. All of these evolved as endemic to the southern portions of Africa.
The descriptive name derives from the unique physical appearance of the fruit of the plant. This fruit grows highly elongated and formed in a hook shape, considered to be reminiscent of an animal’s claw.
At the height of the colonial period, Europeans also imported the plant to Europe.
Devil’s Claw has no discernible odor, yet the taste remains considered to be rather bitter.
Devil’s Claw Endemism and Description
The plant evolved as principally endemic to only four distinct regions of Africa. Primarily, this plant occurs in the Kalahari region of South Africa. The other three native locations are southeastern Namibia, southern Botswana, and southern Angola.
The plant lists as a leafy perennial and possesses many shoots and branching roots. It also produces secondary roots, known as tubers. These tubers grow out of the main roots.
The Devil’s Claw also naturally produces a number of chemical compounds used in medical research.
Devil’s Claw Medicinal Uses
As we saw, Devil’s Claw produces several natural compounds now used in a variety of medicines. From the dried tubers, researchers derived compounds which have excellent anti-inflammatory properties.
Other compounds remain recognized as being rather effective as sedatives, analgesics, and diuretics. Consequently, research also indicates that several compounds within the plant appear highly effective against the pain of osteoarthritis.
Additionally, many herbal remedies now exist using compounds found in this plant. Many of these base their composition on formulas used traditionally by local inhabitants since ancient times.