Devil’s claw, a potent medicinal herb used to treat back pain, headache, osteoarthritis and muscle pain, is generally safe when it is used by healthy adults for short periods of time. However, devil’s claw can cause side effects ranging from mild to severe, especially in susceptible individuals.
The following side effects of devil’s claw may make it inadvisable to use the herb, particularly if you have certain medical conditions. Consult your health care provider if you experience severe or persistent side effects.
Diarrhea is by far the most common side effect of devil’s claw. In fact, almost one in ten people taking devil’s claw will develop this uncomfortable side effect. If you have certain medical conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea or inflammatory bowel disease, devil’s claw may worsen these conditions and lead to severe complications.
Nausea and vomiting are sometimes associated with the use of devil’s claw herbal supplements. Other naturopathic remedies, such as ginger and turmeric, may mitigate these effects. If you experience severe vomiting as a side effect of devil’s claw, you may be at an increased risk of dehydration or electrolyte imbalance. Discontinue use and drink extra water if you vomit while using devil’s claw supplements.
Devil’s claw has been used traditionally to treat headaches, particularly migraines. However, some evidence suggests that devil’s claw might cause or worsen tension headaches. If you are prone to tension headaches, use devil’s claw with caution. Other herbal treatments, such as white willow and topical peppermint, may be more effective.
Ringing in Ears
Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is one common side effect of devil’s claw. While using devil’s claw, you might hear a high-pitched whining, ringing or buzzing sound. Many other conditions can cause tinnitus, including anxiety, ear infections and neurological disturbances.
Loss of Appetite
Some people temporarily lose their appetite or their sense of taste while using devil’s claw. Devil’s claw supplements may weaken your body’s ability to perceive pleasant tastes and fragrances, making food less appealing. This side effect of devil’s claw generally remits within a day of stopping use of the supplement.
Visit the National Institutes of Health for complete information about the side effects of devil’s claw.