Devil’s club is a medicinal plant that has been used for centuries to treat a wide variety of ailments.

It’s claimed to help soothe inflammation, heal skin infections, and stabilize blood sugar levels.

In recent years, devil’s club has become a popular supplement that’s available online or at many natural health stores.

This article takes a closer look at devil’s club, including the potential benefits, side effects, and uses of this powerful plant.

Devils club plantShare on Pinterest
Ferenc Cegledi/Getty Images

Also known as devil’s walking stick, Alaskan ginseng, or Oplopanax horridus, devil’s club is a large shrub native to the Pacific Northwest.

Devil’s club is notable for its unique appearance, including its large leaves and sharp, needle-like spines.

It’s often used medicinally and has long been used by Native Americans to treat a range of conditions, including cancer, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis (1).

Traditionally, the stems, leaves, bark, and berries of the plant were harvested and made into teas, tinctures, ointments, and salves (1).

Today, devil’s club is widely available over the counter and consumed or applied directly to the skin to relieve pain, soothe inflammation, treat infections, and boost immune function.

summary

Devil’s club is a plant native to the Pacific Northwest. It’s often made into teas, tinctures, ointments, and salves to treat a wide range of health conditions.

Devil’s club has not been studied in human research. Still, animal and test-tube studies have indicated that it may help reduce inflammation, exert antimicrobial properties, and even help fight cancer.

May reduce inflammation

Devil’s club is often used to treat inflammatory conditions like arthritis, eczema, and psoriasis.

According to one test-tube study, extracts from the leaves of devil’s club reduced multiple markers of inflammation (2).

What’s more, the leaves were found to contain several antioxidant compounds, including gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, and protocatechuic acid (2).

Another older test-tube study observed similar findings, reporting that extracts of devil’s club exhibited powerful antioxidant properties, which could help prevent inflammation by neutralizing harmful compounds known as free radicals (3, 4).

That said, more research is needed to determine how devil’s club may affect health and inflammation in humans.

May exert antimicrobial properties

Some studies show that devil’s club may help block the growth of certain types of fungi and bacteria.

According to one older test-tube study, extracts from the plant’s inner bark were effective against eight fungal strains, including several that can cause infections in humans (1, 5).

Other test-tube studies suggest that devil’s club may also help fight a specific type of bacteria that causes leprosy and tuberculosis in humans (1, 6).

Further research should be conducted to evaluate whether using devil’s club may help treat these conditions in humans.

May help slow cancer cell growth

Although studies in humans are limited, test-tube studies suggest that devil’s club may help block the growth of certain types of cancer cells.

For example, one test-tube study showed that a specific compound extracted from devil’s club inhibited the growth of pancreatic cancer cells (7).

In another test-tube study, devil’s club extract increased the cancer-fighting activity of chemotherapy drugs like cisplatin and gemcitabine (8).

Other test-tube and animal research has suggested that devil’s club may also be effective against other types of cancer cells, including colorectal cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, breast cancer, and acute myeloid leukemia (9, 10, 11).

Still, studies in humans are needed to determine whether devil’s club affects cancer growth when used as a supplement.

summary

Test-tube studies show that devil’s club may help reduce inflammation and have cancer-fighting and antimicrobial properties. Still, human research is needed.

Despite the potential benefits of devil’s club, it’s important to keep in mind that little research has been conducted on how it may affect human health.

In fact, most available studies are focused on the effects of highly concentrated extracts of devil’s club when administered to animals or applied directly to cells.

Thus, no information on the potential efficacy, benefits, or adverse effects of devil’s club in humans is available.

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, taking medications, or have any underlying health conditions, consult your healthcare provider before using devil’s club.

summary

Little to no research has been conducted on devil’s club’s effects in humans. Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, taking medications, or have any underlying health conditions should talk with their healthcare provider before using devil’s club.

Devil’s club is available in several forms and can be purchased from many natural health stores, pharmacies, and online retailers.

It’s often found as a salve, which is an ointment that typically contains a blend of herbal ingredients and essential oils.

Devil’s club salve can be applied directly to the skin or consumed as liquid extracts and tinctures, which can be mixed into your favorite beverages and consumed.

The dried root bark of devil’s club can also be steeped in boiling water for several minutes and brewed into a tea.

Currently, no official guidelines on the recommended dosage for devil’s club are available.

However, liquid supplements like extracts and tinctures typically contain 600–1,000 mg of devil’s club, which can be taken 1–4 times daily.

If you have any underlying health conditions or are taking any medications, be sure to consult a trusted healthcare provider before using devil’s club.

summary

Devil’s club is available in many forms, including salves, teas, liquid extracts, and tinctures. There are no official dosage recommendations, but most supplements contain 600–1,000 mg per serving.

Devil’s club is a medicinal plant that has been used to treat a wide array of ailments and health conditions.

Although there’s little to no research in humans, test-tube and animal studies suggest that it may help reduce inflammation, slow cancer cell growth, and block the activity of certain strains of fungi and bacteria.

Devil’s club is widely available at health stores, pharmacies, and online retailers and can be found in many forms, including salves, teas, tinctures, and extracts.

Due to a lack of human research on an appropriate dosage and its potential side effects, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider before trying devil’s club.