Chinese Herb May Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis
‘Thunder God Vine’ May Work as Natural Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
WebMD News Archive
Aug. 17, 2009 -- A Chinese herbal remedy may help ease symptoms in people
with rheumatoid arthritis.
A new study shows that the Chinese herbal remedy Tripterygium
wilfordii Hook F (TwHF), also known as “lei gong teng” or "thunder god
vine," helped decrease joint tenderness and pain in a small group of people
treated with the medicinal plant.
Those who took an extract of the herb's roots experienced greater
improvement in rheumatoid arthritis symptoms
than those who took the anti-inflammatory drug sulfasalazine.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes pain and
swelling of the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis also leads to joint damage and destruction.
There is no cure for the condition, and currently available treatments are
designed to ease the symptoms and disability caused by the disease.
Although recent advancements in rheumatoid arthritis treatment
have led to a greater number of available therapies, many of those therapies
come with side effects that prompt some users to discontinue treatment or seek
complementary and alternative treatments.
Thunder God Vine for RA
Researchers say thunder god vine has been used in China for centuries to
treat a variety of inflammatory diseases, and some small clinical trials have
suggested that the Chinese herbal remedy may benefit people with rheumatoid
This study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, compared
the benefits and side effects of treatment with thunder god vine and a
conventional anti-inflammatory drug used in rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers
randomly assigned 121 people with rheumatoid arthritis to take the 60
milligrams of the Chinese herbal extract three times a day or 1 gram of the
anti-inflammatory drug sulfasalazine twice a day for 24 weeks.
Nearly half of the participants dropped out before the study was complete.
But after 24 weeks of treatment, researchers found that a greater proportion of
people in the Chinese herbal remedy group experienced at least 20% improvement
on a standard measure of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms than the other
Researcher Raphaela Goldbach-Mansky, MD, MHS, of the National Institutes of
Health, and colleagues say the study was too short to show if thunder god vine
also helped to slow the progression of joint destruction from rheumatoid
arthritis. But if further studies confirm these results in larger numbers of
people, thunder god vine may provide an affordable natural treatment option for