Chinese Herbal Remedy May Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis
Posted May 18 2010 2:41pm
Although recent advancements in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) therapies have led to a increased number of available treatments, quite a few of those therapies have side effects that result in some users discontinuing treatment or seeking complementary and alternative medicines.
A recently published study shows that the Chinese herb Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F (TwHF), also known as “lei gong teng” or “thunder god vine,” improved joint tenderness and pain in a small sampling of people treated with the medicinal plant.
The report says that people who took an extract of the herb’s roots for 6 months experienced significant improvement in RA symptoms compared to those who took the anti-inflammatory drug sulfasalazine.
Thunder God Vine
Scientists say that thunder god vine has been used for centuries in China to treat an assortment of inflammatory diseases, and a few small clinical trials have suggested that the thunder god vine may benefit people with rheumatoid arthritis.
This study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine,
To perform the analysis, 121 people with rheumatoid arthritis were randomly assigned to take 60 milligrams of TwHF 3 times a day or 1 gram of sulfasalazine twice a day for 24 weeks.
Dr. Christine Laine, an internist who edited the study, said
“It is too early to say whether or not the study defines a specific role for the therapy. The finding brings forward convincing evidence that thunder god vine has an effect similar to that of sulfasalazine.”
However, the thunder god vine may also cause unwanted side effects, and has the potential to significantly reduce male sperm.
Sixty-two patients dropped out before prior to completing the study. But after 24 weeks of treatment, researchers found 67% of the people taking TwHF experienced at least 20% improvement on a standard measure of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms than the other group.
Researcher Raphaela Goldbach-Mansky, MD, MHS, of the National Institutes of Health, and colleagues say the study was not long enough to demonstrate if thunder god vine also helped to hinder the progression of joint destruction from RA. But if additional studies confirm these results in larger numbers of people, thunder god vine may provide an affordable natural treatment option for rheumatoid arthritis.