mTGV vs Sulfasalazine in Rheumatoid Arthritis (2009)

This study is quite interesting to illustrate the safety and efficacy of medicinal Thunder God Vine (mTGV) in Rheumatoid Arthritis vs that of Sulfasalazine (a common first intention DMARD in 2009) 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.

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

Download the full study for free:

Quoting 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 (mTGV) 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.”

Medicinal Thunder God Vine is an established treatment in active Rheumatoid Arthritis

mTGV is a common Rheumatoid Arthritis natural treatment in China for the past 30 years. It is considered a natural DMARD that is both safe and usually more effective than the 5 conventional DMARDs.

Summary of the study

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.

121 patients with active RA during 6 months

The patients had 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 (Naproxen…) 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.

Quoting 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 (mTGV), 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

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%.