2009 Clinical Trial: Thunder God Vine VS Sulfasalazine in RA

2009 Clinical Trial: Thunder God Vine VS Sulfasalazine in RA
December 17, 2017 Nathalie

A Rheumatoid Arthritis natural treatment

Medicinal Thunder God Vine is a common Rheumatoid Arthritis natural treatment in China for the past 30 years. It is also a first intention prescription for a number of other autoimmune conditions.

It is considered a natural DMARD that is both safe and usually more efficient than the 5 common DMARDs. Although medicinal Thunder God Vine is not known outside of China, many studies have been carried out and published in English.

Thunder God Vine = TGV = Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F = Lei Gong Teng = TwHF

The study

This study is quite interesting to illustrate the safety and efficacy of Thunder God Vine in Rheumatoid Arthritis VS that of Sulfasalazine (a first intention DMARD back then) over a period of 6 months.

  • The primary goal was to compare results in terms of ACR20 (20% improvement of RA symptoms at 24 weeks).
  • Secondary goals were safety; radiography scores of joint damage; and serum levels of inflammation.

If you would like to consult the full study, it is available from the US National Library of Medicine / National Institutes of Health website (publisher): Comparison of Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F Versus Sulfasalazine in the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

121 patients with active RA during 6 months

Patients 6 or more painful and swollen joints. Those who were taking a DMARD were asked to stop taking it 28 days prior to trial. The use of oral Prednisone up to 7.5 mg/day, and of NSAIDs (Naproxene…) was allowed to continue taking on the condition to not stop or change dosing during the whole study.

  • 60 patients took Thunder God Vine of the CEA type : 3 times a day X 60mg = 180mg / day. From these 60 patients 62% completed the 24 weeks treatment.
  • 61 patients took Sulfasalazine at the dose of 2 times a day 1mg = 2mg/day. From these 61 patients, 41% completed the 24 weeks treatment.

Here I quote the discussion of the study:

“Our results indicate that patients with active rheumatoid arthritis can be effectively treated with a standardized extract of the roots of TwHF, a medicinal plant that has been widely used in Chinese traditional medicine. During the 6-month study, treatment with TwHF extract resulted in rapid improvement in clinical signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, including joint pain, joint swelling, and measures of overall well-being, and in markers of inflammation…”

The clinical efficacy

I have used the data from the study to highlight the results in terms of the clinical efficacy of this Rheumatoid Arthritis natural treatment VS Sulfasalazine.

Thunder God Vine clinical efficacy VS Sulfasalazine

Clinical efficacy of Thunder God Vine VS Sulfasalazine in terms of ACR 20, ACR 50 and ACR 70

The ACR is the American College of Rheumatology criteria. It’s a standardized score indicating how much a person’s rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has improved. The ACR score represents a percentage. An ACR20 score means that a person’s RA has improved by 20%. ACR50 score means it has improved by 50%, and an ACR70 score means it has improved by 70%.

Thunder God Vine CEA extract ?

The study utilized one of the 2 modern versions of medicinal TGV: the CEA extract.
The dosage of the CEA extract is about the double than the T2. It is of 180mg/day ( T2 dosage is a maximum of 90mg/day) and has a comparable efficacy and safety than T2. This Thunder God Vine CEA extract is nowadays it seems no longer available commercially in China.

Here I quote the conclusion of the study:

“In summary, our study demonstrates that treatment with a standardized extract from the peeled roots of the Chinese herbal remedy TwHF administered over 24 weeks may be both effective and safe in treating patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. The rapid improvement in function and pain and the profound effect on inflammation may make this extract an attractive and affordable alternative to currently available agents.”


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