Devil’s Club is a spectacular plant that grows in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. It’s highly valued by the native people of this area for its mystic and medicinal qualities. A fisherman I know in Alaska wildcrafts the roots for me in his yard in Cordova. I use it as one of the main ingredients in a warming salve for arthritis, joint and muscle pain. Devil’s Club targets joint pain and cleanses deep into the muscles and tissue walls. Devil’s Club also helps harden the vascular walls and provides more elasticity with regular use. It also helps relieve the system of toxic impurities and cleanses the blood. In addition, it has been used by Northwestern Natives to treat diabetes.
While hiking in the northern Cascades in August, I came across a little spring and the area around it was filled with the giant umbrella leaves and bright red berries of Devil’s Club. The plant gets its name for the sharp, dangerous spines under the leaves and on the stems. The plant is in the ginseng family and most resembles Siberian ginseng from Asia. The roots and inner bark of Devil Club are most commonly harvested for medicinal use. They are dug up in the fall when they are the most potent.
Devil’s Club, like other herbs in the Panax family, is an adaptogen, which helps the body deal with stress. According to herbalist Michael Moore, “Devil’s Club seems to be an aid in times of body/mind stress and a means of increasing one’s feeling of wellbeing.”