Thunder God Vine for Arthritis

Did You Know…that a Chinese herbal remedy works just as well—if not better than—a standard prescription drug treatment for arthritis?

Researchers from Peking Union Medical College Hospital in China found that an ancient, potent herb works just as effectively against rheumatoid arthritis as methotrexate—the standard prescription drug used for this debilitating condition.

This new study comes as exceptionally good news to the 1.3 million Americans who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.  With this chronic inflammatory disorder, the small joints in the hands and feet succumb to painful swelling and eventual bone erosion and joint deformity.  Now, sufferers have hope of an effective natural treatment.

Thunder God Vine 

Known as thunder God vine in the West, Triptergium wilfordii Hook F, or TwHF for short, grows wild in southern China and Taiwan.  Its leaves and flowers are poisonous, but when extracted from the skinned root of the plant, TwHF offers powerful protection against rheumatoid arthritis.  TwHF is already approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis in China, but researchers were curious to see how it matched up to more costly prescription drugs.  Results confirmed that thunder god vine is as powerful as its name implies!

207 patients received one of three treatments:

  • A 12.5 mg dose of the prescription drug methotrexate one time per week (a significantly lower dose than the amount prescribed in the United States)
  • A 20 mg dose of TwHF three times daily
  • A combination of both TwHF and methotrexate


To analyze results, researchers used a standard score scale determined by the American College of Rheumatology.  A score of 50 is defined as a 50% improvement in the number of tender, swollen joints and the degree of pain and disability, as well as doctor’s evaluation of disease severity.  Results indicate that TwHF surpassed the performance of methotrexate by 8.5%!

   46.5% of methotrexate patients achieved a score of 50
   55% of TwHF achieved a score of 50
  77% of the combination group achieved a score of 50

Published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, these findings suggest that a combination of TwHF and methotrexate has the most significant impact on rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.  There was little variation in type or frequency of side effects.  However, patients on TwHF did tend to have somewhat irregular periods. 

A Promising Future 

Thunder God vine has a promising future as an alternative treatment for rheumatoid arthritis patients who either can’t afford or do not respond to prescription drugs.  Made up of more than 300 compounds, TwHF is highly concentrated with diterpenoids, which research suggests can act against the process that triggers inflammation.  The Annals of Internal Medicine published a groundbreaking report that showed how TwHF acts as a pain reliever by blocking an enzyme that indirectly triggers the inflammatory response.

More recently, TwHF has been explored as a potential treatment for other autoimmune diseases like lupus and multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, and certain types of cancer.  Such a potent herb does come with a few noted side effects:

diarrhea
upset stomach
hair loss
headache
skin rash
loss of bone mineral density when taken long term
reduced sperm count

Experts advise that you should always consult your physician or a qualified natural health practitioner before adding TwHF to your health and wellness program.

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