As the global population ages, consumers are looking for solutions to staying healthy and active. Joint health appeals to older people, whose joints are suffering from the ageing processes and many joint health studies therefore involve this older demographic. Harpagophytum procumbens D. and Harpagophytum zeyheri Decne, also known as Devil’s claw, are traditionally used to maintain joint health.
The harpagophytum root contains 12 glycosides of iridoides, mainly harpagoside, harpagide and procumbide. Harpagoside is the main active component from the Devil’s claw root (Moussard et al, 1992), however, the harpagide has also demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties (Ebrahim et Uebel, 2011). Some components may also have a synergistic effect as pure harpagoside solution provides less relief than a harpagophytum extract (Circosta et al, 1984; Lanhers et al, 1994; Loew et al, 2001; Fiebich et al, 2001; Kaszkin et al, 2004; Hostanska et al, 2014).
Iridoides contained in harpagophytum act at several levels and their main action is the inhibition of gene expression coding for lipoxygenase, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and iNOS. Harpagophytum is understood to act mainly on fibroblasts, macrophages and chondrocytes. This inhibition could happen directly or through the NF-KB or AP-1 path (Fiebich et al, 2012).
Harpagophytum is understood to act on the production of tumour necrosis factor (TNF-α) and interleukines (Fiebich et al, 2001) and harpagoside has demonstrated anti-COX1 activity (Anauate et al, 2010).
More than 100 publications study harpagophytum. Damien Guillemet, scientific and innovation manager at Nexira, reported the mechanism of action from 13 clinical studies: ‘Harpagophytum has clinically proven effects on joint health through the modulation of pro-inflammatory mediators—TNF, COS, Interleukines and reactive oxygen species (ROS).’ These studies also confirmed harpagoside is not the only active component as iridoides also play a role in this modulation. Harpagophytum has shown properties helping consumers with mobility, flexibility and joint comfort when 50 mg are taken each day.
There are three pending health claims for Harpagophytum procumbens in Europe: ‘Helps to maintain joint health’, ‘Helps to maintain flexible joints and tendons’, and ‘Helps to maintain good mobility’.
At Vitafoods Europe 2017, Nexira launched its new FlexiGO™, dedicated to natural solutions for joint health. FlexiGO is a range of harpagophytum using extracts from 1 to 40 percent harpagosides, allowing simpler formulation and delivery.
Julie Imperato is marketing manager at Nexira.