Its natural habitat is steppe-like areas of the Kalahari desert in Namibia and parts of adjacent South Africa, Botswana, Angola and Zimbabwe. Nowadays devil's claw is being cultivated as a medicinal plant.
Devil's claw contains mainly iridoid glycosides (up to 3 %). Further constituents are glycosides of the flavonoids kaempferol and luteolin, chlorogenic acid and cinnamic acid, the phenylethanoid acteosid, quinone,
harpagoquinone, triterpenes like ursolic and oleanic acid and derivatives, phytosterols like sitosterol and stigmasterol, and esters; sugars, mostly in form of stachyose, sucrose and monosaccharides.
The secoiridoid glycoside fraction, consisting of harpagoside, procumbide, harpagide and 8-para-coumaroyl-harpagide, is supposed to contribute to the pharmacological actions and clinical efficacy.
Devil's claw extract is a herbal preventive and therapeutic agent for painful arthritis (osteoarthritis) and tendinitis.
Treatment results in relief of pain and improves functionality and mobility. It gives most patients relief from symptoms within the first few weeks of treatment.