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Other Names:

Huang-T'eng Ken, Lei Gong Teng, Lei-Kung T'eng, Taso-Ho-Hua, Threewingnut, Tonnerre de la Vigne de Dieu, Tripterigium Wilfordii, Tripterygium wilfordii, Vigne du Tonnerre Divin, Yellow Vine.

THUNDER GOD VINE Overview Information

Thunder god vine is an herb. Its leaves and root are used to make medicine.

Thunder god vine is used for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), heavy menstrual flows, multiple sclerosis, and as a male contraceptive. It is also used for pockets of infection (abscesses), boils, fever, swelling (inflammation), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), HIV/AIDS, a skin condition called psoriasis, and a blood vessel disease called Behcet's disease.

Thunder god vine is sometimes applied to the skin for rheumatoid arthritis.

Thunder god vine has also been used non-medicinally as an insecticide against maggots or larvae, and as a rat and bird poison.

How does it work?

Thunder god vine might help rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by relieving swelling (inflammation) and by changing the way the immune system responds to the arthritis. Thunder god vine contains chemicals that might decrease male fertility by changing sperm.

THUNDER GOD VINE Uses & Effectiveness What is this?

Possibly Effective for:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Taking thunder god vine by mouth seems to relieve joint pain and swelling and improve physical function in people with RA. It also seems to improve the effectiveness of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) when taken for RA symptoms. Taking thunder god vine extract by mouth along with methotrexate seems to be as effective as taking methotrexate alone for RA symptoms, but with fewer side effects. Applying a liquid preparation (tincture) of thunder god vine to the skin over affected joints seems to decrease joint tenderness, stiffness, and swelling. However, serious side effects may occur in people taking thunder god vine for RA symptoms, so talk with your healthcare provider before starting thunder god vine.

Insufficient Evidence for:

  • Male contraception. Taking thunder god vine by mouth might be effective as a male contraceptive. Fertility returns about 6 weeks after men stop taking thunder god vine.
  • A kidney condition called nephrotic syndrome. Early research suggests thunder god vine may be effective for nephrotic syndrome in children.
  • Kidney transplant. Taking thunder god vine before a kidney transplant and for 5 years thereafter might prevent transplant rejection and improve survival in some people undergoing kidney transplantation. Other research suggests that taking thunder god vine along with cyclosporine and prednisone might improve the function and 1-2 year survival rate of the transplanted kidney compared to treatment with azathioprine, cyclosporine, and prednisone.
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Some early research shows that thunder god vine may be effective for kidney problems (nephritis) associated with SLE. However, taking thunder god vine along with prednisone does not appear to improve symptoms better than prednisone alone.
  • Menstrual pain.
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS).
  • Pockets of infection (abscesses).
  • Boils.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of thunder god vine for these uses.

THUNDER GOD VINE Side Effects & Safety

Thunder god vine is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth or applied to the skin in appropriate amounts. It can cause many side effects such as stomach upset, skin reactions, missed menstrual periods, vomiting, diarrhea, and kidney problems.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Thunder god vine is LIKELY UNSAFE to take by mouth during pregnancy. It might cause birth defects.

Not enough is known about the safety of using thunder god vine during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Weakened immune system: Large doses of thunder god vine might weaken the immune system. If you already have a weakened immune system due to HIV/AIDS, medications used to reduce the chance of organ transplant rejection, or for other reasons, avoid using thunder god vine. It might decrease your body’s ability to fight off infection.

Weakened bones (osteoporosis): Thunder god vine can reduce bone strength. If you have osteoporosis or are likely to develop it, don’t use thunder god vine.

THUNDER GOD VINE Interactions What is this?

Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination

  • Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants) interacts with THUNDER GOD VINE

    Large doses of thunder god vine might decrease the immune system. Taking thunder god vine along with other medications that decrease the immune system might decrease the immune system too much. Avoid taking thunder god vine with medications that decrease the immune system.
    Some medications that decrease the immune system include azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), corticosteroids (glucocorticoids), and others.


The following doses have been studied in scientific research:


  • For rheumatoid arthritis (RA): 180-570 mg of thunder god vine extract per day for up to 20 weeks.
  • For kidney problems (nephrotic syndrome) in children: 1 mg per kg of body weight daily for up to 20 weeks.
  • For rheumatoid arthritis (RA): a tincture of thunder god vine applied over affected joints five to six times daily.

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Conditions of Use and Important Information: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2009.

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