What Is Thunder God Vine and Can It Treat Arthritis?

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  • What Is Thunder God Vine and Can It Treat Arthritis?

    What Is Thunder God Vine and Can It Treat Arthritis?

    Lie gong teng, or thunder god vine (Tripterygium wilfordii) is a vine-like, flowering plant native to China, Japan, and Korea. The plant has been used in Chinese traditional medicine for more than 2,000 years to treat many conditions, including inflammation and problems with the immune system.

    Only the skinned root of the thunder god vine (TGV) is used for medicinal uses. The leaves, flowers, pollen, and skin are poisonous.

  • Thunder God Vine Shows Potential

    Thunder God Vine Shows Potential

    Some studies have shown that TGV may lower inflammation and pain levels in patients. It may even lower the immune response in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). And it may help people with lupus, psoriasis, nephritis, and Crohn’s disease.

    Researchers from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine have discovered that triptolide, the active ingredient in the plant, stops cell growth. It has worked against cancer, arthritis, and skin-graft rejection in animals.

  • More Studies Are Needed

    More Studies Are Needed

    Despite early positive evidence regarding the possible benefits of TGV for people with RA, more high quality studies must be performed to show definitive results.

    Like other natural remedies, TGV isn’t certified by the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Many TGV products come from other countries, where federal oversight may be less vigorous.

  • Unpleasant Side Effects

    Unpleasant Side Effects

    There are several less-than-pleasant side effects to watch out for when taking TGV. They include:

    • indigestion
    • diarrhea
    • nausea
    • skin rash
    • hair loss
    • headache
    • menstrual changes
    • reproductive toxicity in men
    • increased risk of osteoporosis in women

    Keep in mind that TGV may be toxic if not carefully prepared.

  • Natural Remedies and You

    Natural Remedies and You

    Natural remedies have been used for thousands of years. Not surprisingly, many medicines that we use today are derived in part from natural sources. For instance, salicylic acid, one of the main ingredients in aspirin, comes from willow bark.

    Always talk to your doctor before you take any alternative or “natural” remedy. Some complementary therapies can interfere with other medicines you may be taking.

  • A Natural Remedy for Everyone

    A Natural Remedy for Everyone

    If you have RA, eating a healthy diet with limited salt and sugar may make you feel better overall. Try incorporating the following foods in your diet:

    • vegetables and fruit
    • lean meat
    • dairy
    • nuts
    • beans
    • whole grain breads, cereals, and pastas

    A healthy diet and sensible portions can help you lose weight. It can also help you maintain your ideal weight, lessening the pressure on your weight-bearing joints.

  • Exercise to Feel Good

    Exercise to Feel Good

    Exercise can be difficult if you have arthritis. However, it’s important to get some exercise to maintain good health. Try doing gentle stretches and move the joints that aren’t hurting through their full range of motion. Walk for a half-hour, or do light exercises with resistance bands.

    Be sure to drink plenty of water. It can help control your appetite, keep your bowels moving, and even lubricate your joints.

  • Add TGV to Your “Watch” List

    Add TGV to Your “Watch” List

    TGV may be a remedy for the inflammation and pain characteristic of RA. Studies are still looking at how it works, what it can do, and how it can be used.

    In the meantime, check with your doctor before trying thunder god vine, particularly if you’re already taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs).