- Nature has provided us with an abundancy of effective herbs which have been used as rheumatoid arthritis treatments for many people who suffer with rheumatic symptoms. The use of herbs for arthritis treatments are practiced more often today because of harmful drug reactions and because people are more concerned about their overall health.
A surprising US survey revealed that nearly 90% of patients diagnosed with arthritis use alternative medicine in the form of herbal remedies.
Although there are many herbs for use, there is a powerful Chinese herb native to southern China called Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F (TwHF), also known as thunder god vine or lei gong teng that has been effectively used in the treatment of numerous rheumatic diseases and autoimmune disorders since the 1960’s . Accumulated data of clinical studies has proven the efficacy of TwHF to be an immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory herbal remedy.
Triptolide (diterpene triepoxide) is one of the major components of TwHF which has been verified as being responsible for the anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive results.
Treatment with the extracts of TwHF must be properly prepared to avoid side effects (skin rash, GI tract disturbance) and the correct dosages administered to patients in order to be effective. Most of the unfavorable side effects stopped spontaneously or ceased after dose adjustment during clinical trials. A sustained release tablet was prepared to reduce GI tract disturbance ( mainly diarrhea) since it was recorded as the most frequent adverse reaction. Current data supports solid evidence signifying TwHF as an effective and safe treatment for inflammatory and autoimmune disorders.
Sulfasalazine is a well known drug used to reduce joint inflammation and to slow down disease progression in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. According to The American College of Rheumatology criteria, a study was conducted of 121 patients with active rheumatoid arthritis which showed a higher response rate and improvement in patients receiving TwHF than the sulfasalazine group.
Chinese Description of Arthritis and How it’s Treated.
In China arthritis is known as an ancient syndrome and countless herbal formulas have been designed for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Traditionally Chinese medicine divided arthritis into medicine groups:
- hot and cold category
- upper and lower body association
- pain specifics (severity and variability of pain)
- fixed or moving (pertaining to the arthritis site or location)
- excess or deficiency syndrome
According to Chinese culture both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are categorized under the bi syndrome… a disruption of qi (energy) and blood circulation resulting in symptoms of pain… stiffness… and swelling.
There are three pathological elements considered when developing herbal formulas:
- Wind (feng) – relates to the sudden onset of the disorder… mobility of affected site… sensitivity to the environment… and the severity of symptoms.
- Damp (shi) – relates to the intensification of symptoms especially when exposed to a wet or damp environment.
- Cold (han) – corresponds to the increased sensitivity of symptoms when exposed to cold.
Classification of the rheumatoid arthritis syndrome is the wind-damp invasion of the joints. Osteoarthritis is characterized as the liver/kidney deficiency syndrome… producing weakness… stiffness… and painful joints in the legs.
Wishing you an enjoyable and pain free life!