Scientists Have Found That A Traditional Chinese Herbal Remedy Is An Effective Treatment For Rheumatoid Arthritis

A traditional pharmacy in China. China Photos/Getty Images

A traditional Chinese herbal remedy used to relieve joint pain and inflammation works as well as standard drug treatments usually prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis, according to new research.

And combining the herbal remedy with methotrexate, the disease modifying drug most commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, was more effective than treatment with the drug alone, the findings show.

Triptergium wilfordii Hook F, or TwHF for short, is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat joint pain, swelling, and inflammation, and is already approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in China.

More than 300 compounds have been identified in TwHF, sometimes known as Thunder God Vine, including diterpenoids, which experimental research suggests can suppress genes controlling inflammation and dampen down the immune response.

And an extract of the root has recently been investigated for its potential to treat autoimmune diseases and some cancers, say the researchers.

The researchers suggest that TwHF could be a promising approach to the treatment of active rheumatoid arthritis, particularly as not all patients respond to expensive drugs.

The study is published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, one of more than 50 titles published by BMJ.

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