Chinese Herb Proves Effective in RA
Written by Editor   
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 12:38 PM

A plant extract used in traditional Chinese medicine was as effective as methotrexate for the short-term treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and was superior when the two agents were given in combination, an open-label randomized trial showed.

At 6 months, 46.4% of patients receiving methotrexate had improved by at least 50% on the American College of Rheumatology (ACR50) criteria, as had 55.1% of those receiving extracts Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F (TwHF) and 76.8% of those given both.

The study "showed that TwHF monotherapy was not inferior to, and combination therapy of methotrexate and TwHF was better than, methotrexate monotherapy in controlling disease activity in patients with active RA."

"The findings are definitely of interest, as there was a clear treatment effect. This is a compound of interest for further study and development," reports the source of this article. 

T. wilfordii, known in the West as thunder god vine, has long been utilized in China for its effects on joint pain, local inflammation, swelling, and fever, and is approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.  The plant contains many active compounds, with diterpenoids being of primary interest.

"Many of the anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory activities of extracts of TwHF relate to the ability of the major diterpenoids to suppress the transcription of cytokines and other proinflammatory genes."