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Devil's claw trials for osteoarthritis

Systematic review 1

This review reported five RCTs dating from 1980 into the use of devil’s claw for osteoarthritis of the hip or the knee.

Three studies (two of which were considered to be of high quality) compared devil’s claw with a placebo. Participants who were given devil’s claw had a significant improvement in osteoarthritis-related pain compared to those who were on a placebo.

One high-quality study compared the level of pain improvement in participants randomly selected to receive devil’s claw with that of participants assigned to take phenylbutazone (an non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug). Participants taking devil’s claw reported fewer side-effects and had slightly better pain improvement.

Another high-quality study compared the overall disease-related symptoms in two groups of participants who were randomly assigned to take either devil’s claw or diacerhein*, a conventional therapy for osteoarthritis. Improvements were similar in both groups following treatment, but participants given devil’s claw experienced fewer side-effects.

Systematic review 2

The above trials were reviewed in a more recent scientific article. It found that results of the high-quality trials suggest that devil’s claw is effective in the reduction of osteoarthritis-related symptoms.

*NB: Diacerhein can be spelt with or without the ‘h’.

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