Posted September 11, 2015

Thirteen Manufacturers Ordered to Stop Selling Devil's Claw Supplements

On September 9, 2015, the New York State Attorney General ordered 13 manufacturers, including Thorne Research Inc., NBTY, Inc. (Puritan's Pride) Inc., and Now Foods, to stop selling devil's claw supplements which were found to contain the incorrect species of the plant. Devil's claw extracts may have anti-inflammatory effects and are often promoted for joint pain and osteoarthritis, although evidence for this is preliminary. 

In the U.S., supplements labeled as devil's claw must be derived from the species Harpagophytum procumbens; however, DNA testing conducted by the New York Botanical Garden revealed that, out of 16 products labeled as devil's claw, 100% were found to contain a different but related species, Harpagophytum zeyher (which is a much less expensive ingredient) either alone (13 products) or in combination (3 products) with the correct species.

The two species contain many of the same compounds, however, some of these compounds occur in different amounts, and some may occur in one species but not the other. Many of the clinical studies on devil's claw appear to have used the procumbens species, although some animal research suggests the two species have similar effects (Baghdikian, Planta Med 1997). The American Botanical Council has argued that the two species are considered to be "equally effective" and that devil's claw extracts sold in other countries commonly contain a mixture of both. 

Manufacturers ordered to stop selling their devil's claw supplements are listed below: 

  • Nutraceutical International Corporation (Soloray)
  • Alternative Remedies Health & Herbs
  • The Kroger Co., as parent of Vitacost.com
  • FoodScience Corporation (Food Science of Vermont & DaVinci Labs)
  • Biopower Nutrition
  • Thorne Research Inc.
  • NBTY, Inc. (Puritan's Pride)
  • Olympian Labs, Inc. (Prescribed Choice)
  • Now Foods
  • Nature's Sunshine Products, Inc.
  • RHG & Company Inc. (Vital Nutrients)
  • The Natural Healing Room & End Time Essentials
  • Shine Supplements

In response, Nature's Way has agreed to sell devil's claw products containing only Harpagophytum procumbens and perform DNA testing when possible. The company has promised to refund consumers who purchased its devil's claw products between January 1 September 10 of this year and complete the form provided on the New York State Attorney General's website. 

Earlier this year, another investigation by New York State Attorney General's office found a number of other herbal supplements sold by major retailors (GNC, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens) to be adulterated, based on DNA testing.

To read the New York State Attorney General's press release, use the link below.