Thunder God Vine: A Potential Cancer Breakthrough

Although the name of this remarkable plant sounds more like a new brand of energy drink than the latest cancer treatment breakthrough, don’t be fooled. Cancer breakthrough is exactly what researchers believe thunder god vine may be.

Previously known only to practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the thunder god vine, or lei gong teng, has been shown to eliminate pancreatic tumors in mice.

“This drug is just unbelievably potent in killing tumor cells,” said Ashok Saluja, study leader and vice chairman of research at the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Cancer Center. Mice treated with the thunder god vine compound were tumor free after 40 days… and they remained so after treatment ceased. “You could see that every day you looked at those mice, the tumor was decreasing and decreasing,” Saluja said, “and then just gone.”

The results of the research—funded by the university and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and published in Science Translational Medicine—were so impressive that the plant has been fast-tracked for human trials. Known scientifically as Tripterygium wilfordii, thunder god vine contains tripotolide, an extract used successfully to kill cancer cells in earlier studies.

Jun O. Liu, a professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences at Johns Hopkins, commented: “triptolide has been shown to block the growth of all 60 U.S. National Cancer Institute cell lines at very low doses, and even causes some of those cell lines to die.” Lui and other scientists believe triptolide works by impeding the production of new RNA.

Studies have shown triptolide extracts can prevent the spread of colorectal… pancreatic… ovarian and other types of cancers.

Evening the Odds Against Pancreatic Cancer

The team from the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota hopes to begin human studies with the thunder god vine extract in 6 months. Initial trials will most likely focus on pancreatic cancer, according to one of the researchers. Statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) indicate about 44,000 new cases are diagnosed annually in the United States, making it one of the most lethal kinds of cancer. Only aout 20% of patients survive one year after a diagnosis or pancreatic cancer, said Saluja.

The earlier the diagnosis, the better the odds—but only slightly. According to the American Cancer Society, of those diagnosed in the earliest stages of the disease, only 14 percent survive 5 or more years. The current treatment protocol for pancreatic cancer is a drug called Gemzar. “It adds 6 weeks—it’s nothing,” said Saluja. “There’s definitely a need to discover and develop more strategies for pancreatic cancer.”

The Sell-Out Scenario

As exciting as it is to see all the coverage of thunder god vine, an inexpensive, all-natural and incredibly effective cancer treatment, the news isn’t all good. The scientists at the Masonic Center plan to develop the triptolide extract into pharmaceutical drug. Anthony Gucciardi of Natural Society, offers the worst case (and all-too-likely) scenario: the researchers will seek FDA approval so that the drug can “be patented, nutritionally ruined, and sold for exorbitant amounts of cash.”

Instead of waiting on the manufactured, FDA-approved version of thunder god vine, seek out the source. But experts strongly advise you to use caution. Nutrionists and herbalists warn that the herb can cause serious side effects, and advise against self treatment with this plant. Instead, they recommend that you consult with a qualified TCM practitioner who is experienced with using thunder god before you attempt to use it yourself.