Devil’s claw is used to relieve pain and inflammation among arthritis sufferers. Scientific evidence backs such uses, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). You’ll also see it used as an appetite stimulant and digestive tonic. However, some side effects can occur when you take devil’s claw. Also, while devil’s claw generally is considered safe for short-term use at recommended doses, it’s not known whether using it for longer than four months is effective or safe, advises the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
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Minor Side Effects
Some folks who take devil’s claw experience vomiting or nausea, according to “The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide.” Other minor side effects may include headaches, loss of taste or appetite or ringing in the ears, according to NIH.
If you have a stomach ulcer, gallstones or a duodenal ulcer, you should avoid devil's claw unless being supervised by a health care professional, advises UMMC. That’s because it can affect acid levels in the gastrointestinal tract, according to NIH.
Devil’s claw may alter the force and rate of your heartbeats, according to NIH. If you have heart disease or abnormal heart rhythms, consult your cardiologist or primary care physician before trying devil's claw.
Blood Sugar Effects
If you have diabetes or hypoglycemia, be careful because devil's claw theoretically can lower blood sugar levels, according to NIH. Also be careful if you’re taking supplements or herbs that can affect your blood sugar, or if you take drugs that affect blood sugar. NIH advises you to have your serum glucose levels monitored by a health care provider who can determine if adjustments to your medication are necessary.
Devil’s claw may increase your risk of bleeding. You should stop taking devil’s claw prior to some surgeries, and discuss your devil’s claw use with your doctor, according to NIH. If you have a bleeding disorder or take drugs that raise risk of bleeding, such as warfarin or aspirin, you need to be monitored by a health care provider when taking devil’s claw. Your doctor might need to adjust your dosing, advises NIH.
Be careful if you take beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers or diuretics, as devil’s claw can interact with these medications, advises UMMC.
Effects on Pregnant Women
Avoid devil’s claw if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, advises Drugs.com, because some adverse oxytoxic effects have been documented. An oxytoxic effect means childbirth is stimulated due to uterine contractions.
An allergic reaction is possible when taking devil’s claw, according to NIH. If you have an allergy to Harpagophytum procumbens, you need to avoid products with devil's claw in them.