Herbal remedy may improve arthritis symptoms

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A traditional herbal remedy may treat rheumatoid arthritis as effectively as an FDA-approved drug treatment, according to a preliminary study published this week in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Triptergium wilfordii Hook F, also known as the “Thunder God Vine,” has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat joint pain and inflammation, though no U.S. manufacturer currently sells the root extract, according to the NIH.

“It actually does show a clinical benefit,” said Dr. Eric Matteson, rheumatology chair at Mayo Clinic, who was not involved with the study.

“I think it is something that deserves further evaluation, without a doubt.”

More than half of the patients taking nothing but Triptergium wilfordii (TwHF) in the study experienced a 50% or greater improvement in their symptoms, as measured by the American College of Rheumatology’s standardized assessment criteria.

By contrast, 46% of patients taking the standard drug treatment methotrexate experienced the same improvement in symptoms.

Patients taking both TwHF and methotrexate showed the greatest improvement of all, with nearly 77% of them experiencing a 50% or greater improvement in symptoms.