The medicinal herb devil’s claw is a highly effective treatment for many medical conditions, including arthritis and back pain. In general, devil’s claw is safe, and it may be a viable holistic alternative to prescription drugs for managing these conditions. When taken as directed for short periods of time, devil’s claw is unlikely to cause serious problems. The most common side effect is diarrhea, which tends to remit with continued treatment.
However, devil’s claw can be dangerous to some individuals. If you are in any of the following high-risk groups, do not take devil’s claw.
Devil’s claw may harm a developing fetus, leading to birth defects and congenital organ problems. In theory, devil’s claw may also increase the risk of preterm labor and miscarriage. Because of this, most obstetricians and midwives regard pregnancy as a devil’s claw contraindication. Consult your health care provider about other options for safely managing pain during pregnancy.
People with Blood Pressure Problems
If you have hypertension (high blood pressure) or hypotension (low blood pressure), do not use devil’s claw. These conditions are considered to be devil’s claw contraindications. Devil’s claw can affect blod pressure, leading to severe spikes and drops in blood pressure. Additionally, you should avoid devil’s claw if you have tachycardia (fast heart rate) or bradycardia (slow heart rate) unless otherwise directed by your health care provider.
People wih Gallstones
Gallstones are a devil’s claw contraindication because devil’s claw appears to increase bile production. This could worsen symptoms of gallstones, necessitating surgical intervention or other treatments. Avoid devil’s claw if you have gallstones or a history of gallstones.
People with Stomach Ulcers
Devil’s claw can trigger an increased production of acid in the stomach, thereby worsening the symptoms of stomach ulcers. It is best to avoid any herb, drug or supplement that increases stomach acid if you have ulcers. Your health care provider can give further information about foods and supplements to avoid until your stomach ulcers are eliminated.
Visit the National Institutes of Health for more information about devil’s claw contraindications.