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Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) as a treatment for osteoarthritis: a review of efficacy and safety

Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) as a treatment for osteoarthritis: a review of efficacy and safety
Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) as a treatment for osteoarthritis: a review of efficacy and safety
BACKGROUND: Osteoarthritis (OA) is a highly prevalent musculoskeletal disorder. Conventional treatment (i.e., the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs-NSAIDs) is associated with well-documented adverse effects. Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) a traditional South African herbal remedy used for rheumatic conditions, may be a safer treatment option. To date, 14 clinical trials have assessed its efficacy/ effectiveness in OA. AIM: To address the two main questions of importance to clinicians: (1) Does Devil's Claw work for the treatment of OA, and (2) Is it safe?
METHODS: A review of the literature on Devil's Claw and OA from 1966 to 2006 was performed using multiple search databases, monographs, and citation tracking. Relevant trials in all languages were identified and included. Both internal validity (i.e., adequacy of the dosage and period of treatment for this condition, reporting of randomization, rates of dropout, blinding, and statistical analysis) and external validity (i.e., inclusion/ exclusion criteria, baseline characteristics of the study populations, trial setting, and the appropriateness of the outcome measures of the trials) were assessed.
RESULTS: Fourteen studies were identified: eight observational studies; 2 comparator trials (1 open, the other randomized to assess clinical effectiveness); and 4 double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized controlled trials to assess efficacy. Many of the published trials lacked certain important methodological quality criteria. However, the data from the higher quality studies suggest that Devil's Claw appeared effective in the reduction of the main clinical symptom of pain. The assessment of safety is limited by the small populations generally evaluated in the clinical studies. From the current data, Devil's Claw appears to be associated with minor risk (relative to NSAIDs), but further long-term assessment is required.
CONCLUSIONS: The methodological quality of the existing clinical trials is generally poor, and although they provide some support, there are a considerable number of methodologic caveats that make further clinical investigations warranted. The clinical evidence to date cannot provide a definitive answer to the two questions posed: (1) Does it work? And (2) is it safe? A definitive high-quality trial that addresses the necessary methodologic improvements noted is needed to answer these important clinical questions.
drug therapy, adverse effects, clinical trials, randomized controlled trials, methods, research, databases, pain measurement, health, dose-response relationship, phytotherapy, analysis, humans, risk, plants, treatment, population, drug, literature, clinical-trial, pain, review, evidence-based medicine, female, osteoarthritis, clinical trials as topic, research support, analgesics, male, plant extracts, drug administration schedule, therapeutic use, harpagophytum, medicinal, safety, research design
1075-5535
981-993
Brien, S.
4e8e97cd-7bc3-4efd-857e-20790040b80f
Lewith, G.T.
0fc483fa-f17b-47c5-94d9-5c15e65a7625
McGregor, G.
8e1aedbd-17ec-43ac-a38b-d31d5e6e2093
Brien, S.
4e8e97cd-7bc3-4efd-857e-20790040b80f
Lewith, G.T.
0fc483fa-f17b-47c5-94d9-5c15e65a7625
McGregor, G.
8e1aedbd-17ec-43ac-a38b-d31d5e6e2093

Brien, S., Lewith, G.T. and McGregor, G. (2006) Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) as a treatment for osteoarthritis: a review of efficacy and safety. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 12 (10), 981-993. (doi:10.1089/acm.2006.12.981).

Record type: Article

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Osteoarthritis (OA) is a highly prevalent musculoskeletal disorder. Conventional treatment (i.e., the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs-NSAIDs) is associated with well-documented adverse effects. Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) a traditional South African herbal remedy used for rheumatic conditions, may be a safer treatment option. To date, 14 clinical trials have assessed its efficacy/ effectiveness in OA. AIM: To address the two main questions of importance to clinicians: (1) Does Devil's Claw work for the treatment of OA, and (2) Is it safe?
METHODS: A review of the literature on Devil's Claw and OA from 1966 to 2006 was performed using multiple search databases, monographs, and citation tracking. Relevant trials in all languages were identified and included. Both internal validity (i.e., adequacy of the dosage and period of treatment for this condition, reporting of randomization, rates of dropout, blinding, and statistical analysis) and external validity (i.e., inclusion/ exclusion criteria, baseline characteristics of the study populations, trial setting, and the appropriateness of the outcome measures of the trials) were assessed.
RESULTS: Fourteen studies were identified: eight observational studies; 2 comparator trials (1 open, the other randomized to assess clinical effectiveness); and 4 double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized controlled trials to assess efficacy. Many of the published trials lacked certain important methodological quality criteria. However, the data from the higher quality studies suggest that Devil's Claw appeared effective in the reduction of the main clinical symptom of pain. The assessment of safety is limited by the small populations generally evaluated in the clinical studies. From the current data, Devil's Claw appears to be associated with minor risk (relative to NSAIDs), but further long-term assessment is required.
CONCLUSIONS: The methodological quality of the existing clinical trials is generally poor, and although they provide some support, there are a considerable number of methodologic caveats that make further clinical investigations warranted. The clinical evidence to date cannot provide a definitive answer to the two questions posed: (1) Does it work? And (2) is it safe? A definitive high-quality trial that addresses the necessary methodologic improvements noted is needed to answer these important clinical questions.

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More information

Published date: 2006
Keywords: drug therapy, adverse effects, clinical trials, randomized controlled trials, methods, research, databases, pain measurement, health, dose-response relationship, phytotherapy, analysis, humans, risk, plants, treatment, population, drug, literature, clinical-trial, pain, review, evidence-based medicine, female, osteoarthritis, clinical trials as topic, research support, analgesics, male, plant extracts, drug administration schedule, therapeutic use, harpagophytum, medicinal, safety, research design

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 61682
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/61682
ISSN: 1075-5535
PURE UUID: 02f96fdb-942d-43f8-a8c4-cf2fb4c06dcf

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Date deposited: 04 Sep 2008
Last modified: 13 Mar 2019 20:28

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