Study Shows Devil’s Claw Safe for Horses

Last Updated on February 24, 2022 by Allison Price

Devil’s claw extracts have been used to treat chronic pain and inflammation in horses due to the increasing popularity of alternative therapies. It has been hard to find the right doses because little is known about the horse’s response to the active ingredients. Recent research has evaluated the horses’ responses to harpagoside (the active ingredient in Devil’s claw )

Karin Zitterl–Eglseer of the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria said that devil’s claw was used for many years to treat inflammatory or degenerative disorders in horses. However, there are no pharmacokinetic data. Pharmacokinetics refers to the study of drug absorption and distribution.

Zitterl Eglseer stated that this data is crucial in determining the appropriate dosages and treatment regimens.

She said that “Devil’s claw” has earned an international reputation for its potent anti-inflammatory, analgesic properties. It is suggested as an alternative to NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) for chronic pain in horses that require continuous, daily pharmaceutical support. These cases may limit the use of NSAIDs like phenylbutazone or Bute due to their potential long-term side effects, such as gastric ulcers and intestinal ulcers.

Zitterl–Eglseer, along with colleagues, used six Warmblood horses that were clinically healthy in their study. A single dose of Harpagoside was administered via a nasogastric tube to each horse at a rate 5 mg/kg (in Trial 1) and 10 grams (in Trial 2). To determine the harpagoside concentrations at different time points, blood samples were taken over time (0.5, 1.5, 2, 2.5 and 3, 6, 8, 12 and 24 hours following administration).

Devil’s Claw Safe for Horses

Zitterl Eglseer stated that harpagoside was detected in horses’ plasma within 30 minutes of administration. It reached its maximum concentration one hour later. It could be detected up to nine hours after it was administered.

She added that the plasma concentrations reached their maximum levels in one hour after administration in Trial 1 at 25.59 ng/ml and Trial 2 at 55.46 mg/ml.

Zitterl Eglseer stated that an anti-inflammatory drug should be suitable for long-term therapy. Understanding pharmacokinetic parameters is key to determining these factors. Understanding how a body responds to drugs, in this instance the horse’s body, allows us to use data from clinical trials and in vitro assays to create dosage regimens and information for clinical treatment.

Researchers found no evidence that harpagoside is being secondary metabolized in the liver. Zitterl Eglseer stated that the rapid absorption of harpagoside into the bloodstream indicates its likely effect on the horse patient.

She said that horses treated with Harpagophytum oil did not experience any side effects, such as gastrointestinal irritation, in her study.

In vitro studies are increasing in number, which have confirmed the anti-inflammatory, antioxidative and analgetic properties of devil’s claw. However, this was the first study to present pharmacokinetic data for Harpagoside. Zitterl Eglseer stated that devil’s claw was safe and well-tolerated by oral administration.

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!