This study is about comparing existing clinical trials: conventional DMARDs VS medicinal Thunder God Vine.
Rheumatoid Arthritis = RA
What is a meta-analysis ?
It’s a study of studies, in other words it’s a statistical analysis that combines the results of multiple scientific studies.
Health regulatory agencies require this type of study to decide on new drug approvals. In fact, researchers in all fields, (medicine, sociology, finance, education, genetics…) use the power of meta-analysis to evaluate evidence and good practices.
Disease-modifying anti rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are pharmaceuticals that lower the inflammation level in RA. Unlike other medications that temporarily ease pain and inflammation such as NSAIDs and corticosteroids, DMARDs can modify the progression of RA over time.
This 2016 study compares Thunder God Vine with the 5 most commonly prescribed synthetic DMARDs to treat RA:
- hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)
- leflunomide (Arava)
- methotrexate (Trexall)
- sulfasalazine (Azulfidine)
- minocycline (Minocin)
22 clinical studies (5255 patients)
The study evaluates 5 different conventional synthetic DMARDs and Thunder God Vine, 3 studies for each. The 3 studies on medicinal Thunder God Vine represent a sample size of 149 patients. This sample is small but highly significant statistically, as the study shows.
Hereafter is the link to the full study available from the BioMedCentral website (publisher):
Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F versus conventional synthetic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs as monotherapy for rheumatoid arthritis
Summary of the study conclusions
As a result, the study conclusion is that medicinal Thunder God Vine may be used as the first line DMARDs agent in the treatment of RA. It states that it is probably the best treatment option of all 5 conventional DMARDs for ACR 20 and ACR 50. For instance, it ranks second best treatment option for ARC70 after Leflunomide (Arava). ACR is a score to measure RA level of activity.
It also shows that it’s a safe treatment.
Here, I quote a part of the study discussion :
Various extracts of TwHF (Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F. or Thunder God Vine) has been widely used in China for hundreds of years for various symptoms. The chloroform-methanol extract of the roots of TwHF (medicinal T2 extract) has been investigated as a potential treatment for autoimmune diseases.
Over the past 30 years, extracts of TwHF (Thunder God Vine) have become a standard therapy for rheumatoid arthritis in China. Recently, extracts of TwHF were tested in the West and shown good efficacy.
Ranking by the SUCRA values showed that TwHF had the greatest probability for being the best treatment option according to ACR 20 and ACR 50, and the highest probability to be in the second ranking position after leflunomide (Arava) according to ACR 70.
More importantly, the result of the current analysis found that TwHF is safe, causing no more drug-emergent withdrawals than the placebo.
Our findings suggest that this Chinese herbal remedy is both effective and safe in treating active RA, offering RA patients a potentially effective and safe alternative to conventional synthetic DMARDs whose efficacies are hampered by untoward effects.
Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F versus conventional synthetic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs as monotherapy for rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review and network meta-analysis – Wang et al. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2016) 16:215 – DOI 10.1186/s12906-016-1194-x
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